Jeniffer Sturgis (delightfully, she goes by her last name “Sturgis”), chef at Old Mill Brewpub in Lexington is behind each phenomenally tasting dish at OMB and we were happy to catch up with her! From their long list of huge, mouthwatering burgers to seasonal beers on tap…..full menu here!
Foodie News: Where did you grow up and what influenced you to become a chef?
Sturgis: I grew up in Darlington, SC. I have always enjoyed cooking. Even as a small child, cooking shows were my go-to, over cartoons. As many children do, I learned a lot about the basics from spending time with my grandmother. I am very artistic and inquisitive and I feel that being a chef allows me to incorporate these two attributes into my daily life better than any other profession would.
Foodie News: Did you attend culinary school or learn on the job?
Sturgis: I have no formal culinary training, but I also do not feel that this is necessary in order to be a great chef. Most of my knowledge has come from on the job training as well as reading and television shows. We are living in a time where food/cooking is such a popular culture topic…it is exciting to be able to literally learn more about your job from simply watching TV. I actually plan my vacations around restaurants. My last vacation was in NYC, where I went to Morimoto’s and actually got to meet him – what a chef-fy thing to do!
Foodie News: Old Mill Brewpub offers special seasonal dishes like Eggplant Parmesan Alfredo & Chocolate Stout Braised Brisket Sandwich. What goes into developing these new dishes?
Sturgis: Being an actual Brewpub, we try to incorporate as much beer into our food menu as we can. The chocolate stout braised brisket is one of our menu items that does just that. The brisket is braised in Holy City Pluff Mud Porter and then finished with caramelized onions, white cheddar horseradish-chive cheese, and a citrus hop mayo. We also try to make sure we have several vegetarian and/or gluten free options on our menu for our customers who may have special dietary needs. The Eggplant Parmesan Alfredo is an example of one of these items. The eggplant is panko breaded, then beer battered and fried. It is then smothered in marinara and parmesan and baked before being placed on top of Alfredo penne and served with garlic toast.
Foodie News: What kind of cooking do you most enjoy?
Sturgis: If I had to pick a cuisine that I enjoy cooking most, it would be Northern Italian because it is very similar to southern cuisine…very much seafood, game, and vegetables. It is easy to incorporate the things I have learned about cooking while growing up in the south with the principles involved in Northern Italian cooking.
Foodie News: What is your favorite part of your job at Old Mill Brewpub?
Sturgis: My favorite part of my job at OMB is being able to be creative when developing our weekly specials….essentially, “playing with food”. Not only is it important for our regulars who get to enjoy something new each week, it gives all of our customers something different to try as our specials are usually a little outside of the box, so to speak.