‘Because the palate tastes passion.’ In an interview with food wizard chef Isaac Olivo, Isaac talks about his own inspirations for the new menu at The Mayflower Grace, and why passion is the difference between extraordinary dining experiences, and those that pass without a thought.
With his flair, originality and passion, Chef Isaac has created dishes using seasonal and local ingredients – including many grown in the hotel’s very own vegetable garden. He’s a man at the top of his culinary game, but here, he carves out time to reveal the mind behind the menu.
What inspired the new menu we see here today at The Mayflower Grace? It’s all about the ingredients, seasonal value and staying true to the region. That’s how you maximise the product, flavour and presentation. Having ingredients that grow right in front of you also triggers ideas and ultimately the direction of the menu. What we have available, and where we are in the year is directly connected to what appears on the menu.
Tell us about some of the ingredients used in the new menu? Heirloom tomatoes heavily feature on the menu. They are a completely natural breed, totally unaltered which ultimately delivers better flavour and colour. We also take full advantage of what is growing in New England, which includes peaches, tomatoes, squash, summer waxed beans and tristar strawberries – the sweetest of the strawberry family. A personal favourite of mine – Bing cherries – also feature in many dishes.
And what do you enjoy most about menu creation? I love all the elements especially the development process. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a talented team and have free rein to create – always keeping in mind that it’s all about making people smile. With the training received over the years, I can also take any ingredient and maximise the natural beauty and flavour. Then, it’s just about having fun, which transpires into beautiful creations. Along with my team, we often turn the kitchen into a laboratory and experiment with flavours until we reach that Eureka moment – it’s a brilliant feeling!
What do you hope for the restaurant in the next five years? It should be one of the top hotspots for destination dining in New England. I would also like to see the restaurant evolve by introducing new concepts that create lasting impressions. We ultimately need to find a balance between keeping our current patrons happy whilst also finding new and exciting ways to attract new guests.
Wine pairing is always a hot topic – what are your thoughts? When it comes to tasting menus, I highly recommend that wines are paired to each dish. It sets you up for the full dining experience and enhances the flavour profiles. You also go on more of a journey which heightens the experience. We also aim to educate guests. Learning how food and wine interact together is a skill in itself and we love to impart that knowledge to guests – in a fun way of course.
Having discussed the menu and what inspires you, what is your favourite dish on the menu? It would have to be the halibut – the presentation and flavours blend as one making it truly memorable. It’s also a big hit with the guests!
Experience Chef Isaac Olivo’s five or seven course tasting menu and allow us to guide you through a memorable dinner. Alternatively select from our a la carte menu of classic, seasonal dishes. For reservations please call +1 860 868 9466. For more information about dining at The Mayflower Grace click here