It’s no secret that we pride ourselves on our Southern-inspired cuisine, which has stood the test of time since we opened our doors in 2011 under owner Ann Kolenick’s watchful eye. Our best-kept secret, however, is our executive chef, Jenn Basanavage, the current steward of our menu.
We sat down with chef Jenn to find out what makes her tick and why she’s happy to have made The Gables at Chadds Ford her home. A woman of few words, Jenn lets her cooking do all the talking.
Why did you become a chef?
I like to make people happy through food. That, and probably a touch of insanity, as well.
Where did you get your formal training?
I attended The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia, and staged at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, California, and Le Bernardin in New York City. I’ve been lucky enough to work with fantastic chefs throughout my years in the business. The best part? I’m still learning.
Who has had the biggest influence on you in your career?
Dominique Filoni, my chef at Savona, and also Gerald Scanlan, my coach on the culinary team at The Restaurant School. I wouldn’t be where I am without their mentoring and guidance.
How did you come to work at The Gables?
I can thank some mutual friends for introducing me to Ann — we knew right away it would be a great fit! Before The Gables, I was a private chef for about a decade after stints at Lacroix at the Rittenhouse, Washington Square and Pif in Philadelphia, as well as Savona in Gulph Mills and Le Mas Perrier and Taquet in Wayne.
What’s your vision for The Gables, both in the dining room and for events?
There’s one goal: To create delicious, simple food using quality ingredients.
What’s your favorite thing about working at The Gables?
It’s really unique here; it’s a very close-knit environment. I enjoy the “family” feeling among the entire staff, from the front of house to the back.
Who’s your favorite celebrity chef?
Eric Ripert. I have the utmost respect for his food and his style — modern French cuisine with a specialty in seafood. I was privileged to work under him Le Bernardin.
What’s your favorite food to make at home?
I enjoy the whole process of making bread. The activation of the yeast, the chemical changes, creating different flavor profiles, kneading and shaping, the smell of it baking — there’s nothing I don’t like about baking bread!
As if being an executive chef at a busy restaurant isn’t enough … don’t you also have another job?
Besides food and cooking, my other passion is dogs. I’m the director of fosters and volunteers at To Love a Canine Rescue. We’re a 501(c)(3) based out of Malvern that works with high-kill shelters in the south to find dogs and foster them into their forever homes.
What else do you like to do in your spare time (if you have any)?
My daughter, Zofia, and I love to paint! I also cut wine bottles to make candles, and enjoy making bath products, too. Check out Zozo Candles and Zofia Rose Bath Products. Of course, I love spending time with my partner, Philip, and our rescue dogs, Wolfgang and Aloyisious.
Seems our Jenn is, indeed, a Jill-of-all-trades! Stop by soon and taste why our favorite “trade” of Jenn’s is what comes out of our kitchen.
The Gables at Chadds Ford is nestled in the heart of the historic Brandywine Valley. Our combination of fresh seasonal cuisine, rustic yet elegant charm and enchanting outdoor dining will keep you coming back time and time again. The Gables is also the perfect venue to host your next special event, whether you are planning a wedding, rehearsal dinner, baby shower or corporate event.
Featured photo: The Gables of Chadds Ford; other photos, top to bottom: Jenn Basanavage; The Gables of Chadds Ford; Jenn Basanavage