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November 5-7, 2021: Identifying and Collecting Plants in the Wild

If rugged scavenger hunts, exclusive dinner parties and culinary classes facilitated by one of the most knowledgeable in the business pique your interest, then The Inns at St. Albans is where you need to be later this summer. 


In conjunction with the grand opening of the new digs of the International Choux Co., the cooking school of The Inns at St. Albans, artisan chef and educator Jeff Ross assumes the role of chef-in-residence for a weekend culinary camp this fall focused on foraging the edible plants around us – or, more specifically, the rich woods surrounding our historic property. The session will also touch on fresh ideas for holiday menus and entertaining.

Ross has been gardening since the ripe age of 8, and that first crop he harvested as a child – radishes – still tops his list of favorite vegetables. But Ross, an expert gardener who’s headed up the organic vegetable garden at a luxury resort and now serves as foodways educator in Tennessee says his true passion is to go beyond the boundaries of a garden bed in search of wild plants – weeds included – that he can incorporate in his kitchen adventures.

“Wild foods … sustained the native population for many centuries,” Ross reminds us. “By identifying and thoughtfully gathering native plants, as well as eating parts of plants we normally discard, we can eat more colorfully in every way.”

Through a series of “hunts” in the woods and gardens on premise as well as a trip to the nearby Shaw Nature Reserve, camp attendees will learn how to identify and properly collect greens, mushrooms and other plants growing in the wild but safe for eating. Classroom demonstrations will cover how to make (oftentimes with the assistance of the wild ingredients students have found while foraging): 

  • chicken leg confit
  • semifreddo
  • gnocchetti
  • mushroom stock
  • vinaigrette and
  • pesto.

Ross will be assisted throughout the weekend by fellow culinary team member Kameron Burrack who has represented the United States in the Bocuse d’Or World Competition as part of the highly competitive Ment’or program. Burrack’s resume includes stints as chef de cuisine at the Four Bears Casino based in Newtown, North Dakota; executive sous chef under Chef Michael Lamping at the Lake Quivira Country Club in Lake Quivira, Kansas; and sous chef at the Mountain Brook Club in Birmingham, Alabama.

Scheduled for November 5-7, 2021, the three-day course includes Friday and Saturday foraging excursions and cooking demonstrations; A Friday evening lesson in cocktail-making; a Saturday night chef’s dinner at The Studio Inn; and a Sunday breakfast and group activity with the chefs.

Saturday’s dinner will mirror the dishes and skills taught earlier that day. The completely custom menu dreamed up by Ross includes a gathered salad with herbs and preserves vinaigrette; gnochetti with grilled wild mushrooms and foraged greens pesto; pan seared chicken supreme with confit and rich mushroom stock; and for dessert, a fruit and leaf semifreddo.

Camp attendees also are invited to attend the Porch Party at Head’s Store on Friday night and SipINN Sunday at Old Barn Inn Pavilion from 1 to 4 p.m. These popular events include great food, drink and live music. The chefs plan to be in attendance as well!

Onsite luxury accommodations are included in the camp reservation, but class sizes are limited to maintain an intimate, hands-on learning experience.