ADAMS - A veteran chef, new to the area, has found her footing at Haflinger Haus on Commercial Street in Adams.
Alexis Girhiny, a former chef in Germany and teacher at Le Cordon Bleu College in Cambridge, took the helm at Haflinger Haus for the restaurant's opening last month, She plans to continue using her experience in the kitchen and love for traditional meals and seasonal ingredients to push the Austrian- styled eatery to the next level.
"I find that I like a good quality product with a definite flavor - I've never been a chef to go along with the trend of the day," Girhiny said. "I'm most comfortable with a hearty, good meal and a splash of something interesting."
And, given the Austrian theme of the restaurant, Girhiny finds herself within a comfort zone of family-recipe goulash, wiener schnitzel using fresh, antibiotic-free pork, cornfed half-chicken, schweine haux, spaetzle, dumplings, sauces, mushrooms, salads, baked goods and more.
For six years, Girhiny lived and cooked at a restaurant in Germany that was a mere 10minute walk from the mountainous skyline of Austria.
"It's a very different culture, and to be able to go from there to France, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, then make the comparisons- it's a very good education for a chef," Girhiny said.
Girhiny graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York before traveling abroad, and counts this year as her 26th in the professional cooking world - coupled with a passion for cooking
"I've been interested in cooking for as far back as I can remember," Girhiny said. "I was the daughter in the kitchen, with grandpa stirring the spoon in the pot when I couldn't reach the stove."
For novices and even cooks of some experience, Girhiny advocates cooking with leftovers - one of her favorite methods when cooking on her own time.
"Just take what you have in the fridge and make something creative out of it," she said.
Now, working with a kitchen she personally staffed, Girhiny intendes to pass on some of her knowledge to these aspiring local cooks.
They can expect to pick up on some of Girhiny's creativity in the kitchen - given the chef's instinct to work with seasonal dishes and ingredients, backed with a knowledge of timeless meals, recipes and know-how, and a care for presentation on the plate - "you want to eat with your eyes, too" Girhiny says.
"I have a well-rounded experience, from big food service to little restaurants, hotel to country, back house to front house - and I like front house, too - but I'm a chef at heart," she added.
In the near future, Girhiny looks forward to a fully operational garden behind the restaurant - the fruits of which the chef is already beginning to employ - establishing connections with local vegetable and meat suppliers, continental breakfasts for patrons of the inn upstairs from the restaurant, potential lunch openings and a continual evolution of the menu and experimentation with nightly specials.
To reach Phil Demers, email firstname.lastname@example.org.