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Chef brings cooking savvy to Waynesboro Country Club

May 03, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, PA. - A certain irony is present when Geoffrey "Geoff" Sutton casually mentions that he has a lot on his plate.

On top of the expected stresses of moving a family 2,400 miles, Sutton has been developing his menus for the Waynesboro Country Club.

The club's new executive chef doesn't like to associate with just one style of food, but reluctantly classifies his style as American regional. The fare developed from work all over the country.

"From every restaurant in every area, I've learned some style of cuisine," Sutton said.

The first course - the appetizer if you will - in Sutton's culinary career would have to be the summers spent washing dishes in bustling kitchens. There, with youthful curiosity, the New York teenager paid dutiful attention to the efforts of cooks.

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A short stint in Susquehanna University's chemical engineering program ended with Sutton back in Long Island kitchens.

"Cooking was always there," he said.

Sutton graduated from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in 1996, then bounced around the United States for several years. In that time, he cooked at San Francisco's One Market Restaurant, the Annapolis Yacht Club and the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C.

He connected with award-winning chef Bradley Ogden both in San Francisco and more recently in Las Vegas.

From him, Sutton learned that "the simplicity and homegrown feel is very important."

A portion of Sutton's excitement about returning to the East Coast comes from his ability to now use locally grown produce and fresh meats and seafood. He promises fresh ingredients will be a strong part of his menus, which will be debuted for Country Club members on the evening of May 24.

"Having the produce and meats available here ... it adds to the level of quality," said Sutton, who is excited to work with local rockfish and crabmeat.

Sutton's last job, working at Caesars Palace, provided opportunities to open restaurants and observe Food Network personality Bobby Flay. Yet, the desert meant poorer access to the fresh ingredients Sutton craves.

Sin City also was "not conducive to family," prompting the Suttons' move.

"My wife and myself wanted a growing community where there's that sense of family," said Sutton, adding that he has been struck by the helpfulness of people in the greater Waynesboro area.

Sutton's new kitchen has 14 staff members, preparing 50 to 75 lunches and dinners daily for the club's 500 members. They also have special events like the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta and Mother's Day brunch.

Club favorites, like the crabcakes, will stay when Sutton's new menus are put into use, he and Clubhouse Manager Don Harriman said.

Sutton revealed that the menus, which are shrouded in secrecy during development, will include his creamy Brussels sprouts recipe. It's food like that that Sutton encourages others to try at least once.

Sutton, who has sampled ostrich and snake, doesn't consider any request or combination of foods to be weird.

"Someone must've been really hungry to try that first oyster," he said, explaining his justification.

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