Ready, set, cook

Milford’s Chris Viaud to appear on Top Chef

Milford chef Chris Viaud will appear as a contestant on Season 18 of Bravo’s cooking competition series Top Chef, which will premiere Thursday, April 1. He’ll compete in several challenges with 14 other executive chefs and restaurateurs from across the country, preparing dishes for celebrity judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons, as well as previous Top Chef finalists. Filming for the show took place in Portland, Oregon, late last year. As they say on the show, the winner receives $250,000, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, an appearance in the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado, and the title of “Top Chef.”

Viaud is the executive chef and owner of both the farm-to-table restaurant Greenleaf (54 Nashua St., Milford, 213-5447, greenleafmilford.com) and the sandwich and pastry shop Culture (75 Mont Vernon St., Milford, 249-5011, culturenh.com). He grew up in Massachusetts and attended Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., where he studied food service management. Prior to opening Greenleaf and Culture, Viaud spent three years as a chef at Deuxave, a fine-dining French restaurant in Boston, where he honed many of the creative techniques and skills he still practices today.

How were you approached for the show and what was the casting process like?

One of the prior chefs at Deuxave, Adrienne Wright, was actually a contestant on Season 16 of Top Chef. She was the one who kind of inspired me and motivated me to toss my hat into the ring. She sent in my name and then somebody from casting reached out to me to begin the interviewing and auditioning process. There were many steps involved, and I had to think a lot about how to best express my talent to get to the point of being chosen for the show.

Had you been a previous Top Chef viewer? Were you familiar with the show’s format?

I’ve been watching the show since around Season 10 or 11. It’s definitely one of my favorite cooking shows to watch, because I often feel a deep connection to the chefs. This is all raw talent and their real struggles and self-battles that come through on the show.

Do you remember the moment you learned you had been selected to be a Top Chef contestant and what was going through your mind at that time?

Yes, actually. So just before Culture had opened [in August 2020], I was sitting in the empty building doing paperwork, and I got a call from an unknown number. Typically I don’t pick up unknown numbers, but I just had a feeling. … I was told that I had been selected to compete in the new season. I ran around the building and drove from Culture to Greenleaf. My wife Emilee was working the line at Greenleaf, and I took her aside and told her the news, and then I was just speechless after that.

You learned soon after that you’d be traveling to Portland, Oregon, for filming. Did you have to familiarize yourself with the food scene over there as part of your overall preparation?

I had not been there before, so it was also a bit of a surprise for me to learn that I would be going to Portland. I wasn’t too familiar with it, so I did have to do some research on the food community out there and what grows around that area. In New England, for example, we focus a lot on the four distinct seasons when we think about produce, but over there, there is a lot of produce that is grown year-round. So those kinds of things definitely took me outside of my comfort zone.

Did the experience make you realize anything you hadn’t noticed before as a viewer?

I’ve done cooking competitions before, but nothing quite like this at all. You get that realization that this is all really happening once the clock starts ticking. That 30 minutes you get is a real 30 minutes, and it flies. … All of us on the show became very well-connected, and being able to share our expertise with one another was one of the most rewarding things about the experience.

What was filming like in the midst of Covid?

There were multiple Covid tests before leaving but also throughout the course of filming. The production company took several extra measures to make sure the judges and the contestants were staying safe. We had to wear masks whenever we weren’t filming and we had to keep our distance from one another.

Top Chef: Season 18 premiere
The episode will air on Bravo and will feature Milford chef Chris Viaud
When: Thursday, April 1, 8 p.m.
How to tune in: Check your television service provider’s listings for the channel number, or stream the premiere online at bravotv.com/live

Feautred photo: Chris Viaud. Photo by Stephanie Diani/Bravo.

The Weekly Dish 21/03/25

News from the local food scene

Get ready for Easter: Still wondering about what to do for Easter Sunday this year? Visit hippopress.com for our annual Easter listings (available for free to everybody thanks to our members and supporters), which include details on local restaurants and function centers serving special brunches or dinner menus, as well as bakers, chocolatiers and candy makers offering unique creations of their own. Easter Sunday is April 4, so be sure to place those orders or make those reservations soon. For the most up-to-date availability, check the websites or social media pages of restaurants, bakeries and function centers, or call them directly.

Chili chowdown: The Amherst and Merrimack Lions Clubs are now offering recipes available for purchase from contestants that participated in their “virtual” chili cook-off on March 2. According to Amherst Lion and event co-captain Joan Ferguson, there were 10 entries total, with submissions divided into two categories of either individuals or Lions Club members. Each chili was judged by three local celebrity chefs for its taste, smell, heat, creativity and presentation. Visit e-clubhouse.org/sites/amherstnh to access the virtual cook-off and download the recipe list. Bonus recipes from previous cook-off winners are also available for purchase. The cost is $10 for five recipes, $15 for 10 recipes or $20 for all of them, with proceeds benefiting the Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation of New Hampshire.

A drink to history: Join New Hampshire Humanities for The Hot Drinks Revolution, a virtual event happening on Friday, April 2, at 5 p.m. Dr. Whitney Howarth of Plymouth State University will talk about history’s role in making drinks like tea, cocoa, coffee and Coca-Cola the popular beverages they are today, discussing Atlantic slave-sugar trade, cafe culture in colonial days, the indigenous resistance to tea plantations and the tale of the coffee bean in Latin America. Visit nhhumanities.org to register via Zoom.

Lemon freeze: Salem limoncello producer Fabrizia Spirits has recently introduced new frozen versions of its ready-to-drink canned cocktails, according to a press release, in three flavors: Italian lemonade, Italian margarita and Italian breeze. The frozen cocktails follow the same exact recipes as their canned counterparts, made with limoncello, freshly squeezed Sicilian lemons, premium vodka and tequila and all-natural fruit juices. They’re sold in mixed 12-packs and are currently available in retail stores across several states, as well as online. The introduction of canned cocktails to Fabrizia’s product line a few years ago has been a major sales driver for the company, according to the release, as it has enjoyed a nearly 250 percent increase in profits since 2018. In the several months since launching the Fabrizia Lemon Baking Co., it has expanded its offerings to include limoncello-infused blondies, biscotti and whoopie pies. Visit fabriziaspirits.com.

Eats for Easter

Where to go for dine-in or takeout brunch for Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday is fast approaching (Sunday, April 4), and if you’re wondering where to go to celebrate it this year, check out this list of local restaurants, bakeries and homestead companies offering specialty items. Many that are accepting dine-in reservations for brunch or dinner are also offering takeout orders to go this year. Do you know of a local eatery offering Easter specialties that’s not on this list? Let us know at food@hippopress.com.

603 Charcuterie (Derry, 603charcuterie.com) is taking orders for Easter-themed charcuterie boards, featuring Bell and Goose Cheese Co. cheeses, assorted meats, preserves, jams and jellies, nuts and candies. A larger-sized option also includes Easter-themed cupcakes and doughnuts from the Bearded Baking Co. of Manchester. Pickups will be on Saturday, April 3, and Sunday, April 4, at Creative Chef Kitchens (35 Manchester Road, Derry).

Alan’s of Boscawen (133 N. Main St., Boscawen, 753-6631, alansofboscawen.com) will serve an Easter brunch buffet on Sunday, April 4, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call to make a reservation.

Ashley’s Eats & Sweets (Raymond, ashleys.eats.and.sweets@gmail.com, find them on Facebook) is taking orders for a variety of specialty items for Easter, like macarons, iced sugar cookies, crinkle cookies, M&M cookies, cookie kits and cocoa bombs. Specialty Easter baskets are also available, featuring one cocoa bomb, three iced cookies, three crinkle cookies and three M&M cookies. Order by March 30.

Atkinson Resort & Country Club (85 Country Club Drive, Atkinson, 362-8700, atkinsonresort.com) is accepting Easter Sunday reservations now for both Merrill’s Tavern and the Stagecoach Grille, featuring specialty menu items like baked ham, baked haddock, prime rib, stuffed filet mignon, seared scallops, grilled vegetable ravioli and more.

Bedford Village Inn (2 Olde Bedford Way, Bedford, 472-2001, bedfordvillageinn.com) will serve an Easter brunch buffet in its Great Hall on Sunday, April 4, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., as well as a three-course prix fixe dinner from 2 to 7 p.m. The brunch menu will include chef-attended omelet and Belgian waffle stations, charcuterie and cheese displays, smoked ham and roasted leg of lamb carved to order, and other assorted breakfast and lunch items. The dinner will include your choice of a first course (celery root bisque, New England clam chowder, pea tendril and watercress salad or spring bean and arugula salad); an entree (grilled tournedos, pistachio and matcha-crusted Icelandic cod loin, smoked North Country ham, herb crusted leg of lamb, herb-marinated Scottish salmon, or house-made casarecce); and a dessert (Irish cream torte, vanilla bean creme brulee, buttermilk panna cotta, strawberry Charlotte royale, or lemongrass ice cream). The cost for the brunch buffet is $65 for adults and $32 for kids ages 10 and under. The cost for the dinner is $65 for adults and $34.95 for kids ages 10 and under. Reservations are required for both.

The Black Forest Cafe & Bakery (212 Route 101, Amherst, 672-0500, theblackforestcafe.com) is taking orders for a variety of items for Easter, including pies (apple, Dutch apple, strawberry rhubarb, cherry, grasshopper or chocolate cream); cakes (carrot, coconut, chocolate mousse, lemon daisy and Black Forest gateaux); Easter egg or bunny shortbread cookies, lemon tarts and more. Order by March 27. Pickups will be on Friday, April 2, or Saturday, April 3.

Buckley’s Bakery & Cafe (436 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 262-5929) and Buckley’s Market & Cafe (9 Market Place, Hollis, 465-5522) are taking orders for several items for Easter, including cakes (carrot, hummingbird, double chocolate or gluten-free lemon blueberry); and pies (chocolate cream, key lime or mixed berry crumble); as well as assorted breakfast and dessert pastry trays, Parker House rolls, cinnamon rolls and hot cross buns. Order by March 31 via phone or online at buckleysbakerycafe.com.

Buckley’s Great Steaks (438 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 424-0995, buckleysgreatsteaks.com) will be open on Easter (Sunday, April 4) from noon to 5 p.m.

Caroline’s Fine Food (132 Bedford Center Road, Bedford, 637-1615, carolinesfood.com) is taking orders for dinners of either maple-glazed pork loin or herb and Dijon-encrusted leg of lamb for Easter, both of which can come in two sizes (servings of four or of six to eight) and feature shallot whipped potatoes, lemon honey caramelized carrots and sauteed asparagus. Order by March 29 at 2 p.m.

Castleton Waterfront Dining on Cobbetts (58 Enterprise Drive, Windham, 898-6300, castletonbcc.com) is taking orders for a variety of to-go items for Easter, including dinner packages of spiral glazed ham or roast leg of lamb with herbs. Both serve eight to 10 people and come with various sides, like roasted red bliss potatoes, spring peas, pan gravy and dinner rolls. Other a la carte items include tenderloin of beef, roast pork loin with cranberry apple stuffing, sides by the quart, assorted hors d’oeuvres like scallop and bacon skewers and crabmeat stuffed mushrooms, and desserts like carrot cake or ice cream pie with Kahlua sauce. Order by March 31 at noon. Pickups will be on Saturday, April 3, from 9 a.m. to noon.

City Moose Cafe & Catering Co. (30 Temple St., Nashua, 943-5078, citymoosenh.com) is taking orders for Easter dinners featuring maple-glazed ham, garlic mashed potatoes and buttered tri-colored carrots, as well as a “rabbit munch” salad with local hydroponic greens, strawberries, feta cheese, sunflower seeds and balsamic vinaigrette, and pineapple upside-down cake for dessert. Order by March 29 at noon. Pickups will be on Saturday, April 3, from 1 to 2 p.m.

The Coach Stop Restaurant & Tavern (176 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, 437-2022, coachstopnh.com) is taking reservations for dine-in Easter meals on Sunday, April 4, with seatings at 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. or 5:30 p.m., as well as takeout pre-ordering and free delivery. Items include first courses like French onion soup, spinach and artichoke dip and bacon-wrapped scallops; and entrees like chicken marsala, roast prime rib of beef, seafood linguine alfredo and lobster macaroni and cheese.

Colby Hill Inn (33 The Oaks, Henniker, 428-3281, colbyhillinn.com) will serve a three-course prix fixe dinner menu for Easter, with seatings on Sunday, April 4, between noon and 6 p.m. Items include your choice of a first course (lemon chicken noodle soup, slovak beet and buttermilk soup, spring greens salad, asparagus and chioggia beet salad, local farmer’s cheese and spinach pierogi, or red beet deviled eggs); an entree (Greek-style roasted leg of lamb, maple and cider mustard glazed ham, prime rib, scallops, rabbit pot pie or carrot spaetzle) and a dessert (Easter chocolate trio of a chocolate mousse, mini chocolate peanut butter cake and a chocolate bunny, maple walnut carrot cake, strawberry rhubarb pie, lavender creme brulee or rose sorbet).

The Common Man (25 Water St., Concord, 228-3463; 304 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 429-3463; 88 Range Road, Windham, 898-0088; Lakehouse Grille, 281 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith, 279-5221; 10 Pollard Road, Lincoln, 745-3463; 21 Water St., Claremont, 542-6171; Foster’s Boiler Room, 231 Main St., Plymouth, 536-2764; 60 Main St., Ashland, 968-7030; Lago, 1 Route 25, Meredith, 279-2253; Italian Farmhouse, 337 Daniel Webster Hwy., Plymouth, 536-4536; Lakehouse Grille, 281 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith, 279-5221; Camp, 300 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith, 279-3003; Airport Diner, 2280 Brown Ave., Manchester, 623-5040; Tilt’n Diner, 61 Laconia Road, Tilton, 286-2204; 104 Diner, 752 Route 104, New Hampton, 744-0120; thecman.com) is taking orders for Easter dinners for four to go, featuring oven-roasted ham with honey glaze, creamy leek scalloped potatoes, roasted asparagus, cider-infused mashed sweet potatoes, maple-roasted Brussels sprouts, house baked rolls and carrot cake for dessert. Additional optional a la carte items include oven-roasted turkey with pan gravy, macaroni and cheese and a Sriracha deviled eggs kit (makes one dozen). Order by March 29. Pickups will be on Saturday, April 3.

Crosby Bakery (51 E. Pearl St., Nashua, 882-1851, crosbybakerynh.com) is taking orders for several specialty items for Easter, like pies (apple, apple crumb, blueberry, chocolate cream, pumpkin, lemon meringue and many others), as well as pastries, like muffins, doughnuts, cinnamon buns and Danishes; assorted pastry platters, cookies, cheesecakes, and savory offerings, like gorton, meat pie with pork and beef, salmon pie and Boston baked beans. Order by March 31 for pickup on Friday, April 2, or by April 1 for pickup on Saturday, April 3.

The Crust & Crumb Baking Co. (126 N. Main St., Concord, 219-0763, thecrustandcrumb.com) is taking orders for several specialty baked goods and sweet treats for Easter, like hot cross or cinnamon buns, pies (flavors include coconut cream, chocolate cream, lemon meringue, apple streusel, forest berry crumb and many others); cakes (flavors include carrot, blueberry lemon mousse, raspberry coconut and flourless chocolate torte); and quiches available with a variety of filling options, like bacon, sausage, marinated tomato, onion, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, Pepper Jack cheese or goat cheese. Pickups will be on Saturday, April 3.

The Derryfield Restaurant (625 Mammoth Road, Manchester, 623-2880, thederryfield.com) will serve an Easter brunch buffet on Sunday, April 4, with seatings every half hour from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Reservations are required due to limited seating availability.

Fratello’s Italian Grille (155 Dow St., Manchester, 624-2022, fratellos.com) will serve an Easter brunch buffet on Sunday, April 4, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring an egg and omelet station, a carving station with slow-roasted prime rib of beef and baked ham with a honey and maple glaze, various other breakfast and lunch options, and assorted drinks and desserts. Reservations are required.

Frederick’s Pastries (109 Route 101A, Amherst, 882-7725; 25 S. River Road, Bedford, 647-2253; pastry.net) has several specialty seasonal offerings available for Easter, like assorted Easter egg cookies, cottontail bunny cakes, carrot cake cheesecake or cheesecake cups, cupcakes, mini pies, cream puff pastry trays and more.

Gauchos Churrascaria Brazilian Steakhouse Butchery (62 Lowell St., Manchester, 669-9460, gauchosbraziliansteakhouse.com) will serve an Easter brunch buffet on Sunday, April 4, with seatings from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring a variety of breakfast and lunch items, a salad bar, pastries, parfaits and more. Reservations are required. Starting March 28, Gauchos will also be opening for brunch every Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Granite State Candy Shoppe (13 Warren St., Concord, 225-2591; 832 Elm St., Manchester, 218-3885; granitestatecandyshoppe.com) has several specialty seasonal offerings available for Easter, like blue, pink and lavender marshmallow Peeps, milk, dark or white chocolate Easter bunnies and eggs, and Easter baskets of assorted chocolate.

Just Like Mom’s Pastries (353 Riverdale Road, Weare, 529-6667, justlikemomspastries.com) is taking orders for a variety of specialty baked goods and sweet treats for Easter, like cakes (carrot, spring sherbert mousse, lemon cheesecake with strawberry topping or raspberry coconut cake); assorted breakfast pastries, like sticky buns, cinnamon sticks and filled croissants; quiches (ham and Swiss, bacon, tomato and onion, spinach and feta or broccoli and cheddar); and fruit pies (strawberry rhubarb, three-berry, raspberry or cherry). Other specialty pies include the Elvis, with peanut graham cracker, chocolate pastry cream, Bananas Foster and a whipped peanut butter topping); and a blueberry and strawberry pie with an oat almond crumb topping. Order by March 27. Pickups will be on Saturday, April 3.

LaBelle Winery (345 Route 101, Amherst, 672-9898; 14 Route 111, Derry; labellewinerynh.com) will serve a three-course plated brunch for Easter on Sunday, April 4, with seatings from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Amherst and one seating at 11 a.m. at its new location in Derry. Menu offerings include your choice of herb-marinated Statler chicken breast, mustard-crusted Atlantic salmon, apricot-glazed smoked ham, and spring vegetable and goat cheese quiche, as well as multiple optional add-ons, like an artisan cheese and charcuterie board, smoked salmon or freshly sliced fruit. Reservations are required. The Easter Bunny will also be in attendance to take socially distanced photos.

Mile Away Restaurant (52 Federal Hill Road, Milford, 673-3904, mileawayrestaurantnh.com) is taking reservations now for Easter, offering special meals that include your choice of one appetizer, salad, entree and dessert. Menu staples include appetizers like tomato bisque, Swedish meatballs, fresh fruit plates with sorbet; Caesar salad or garden salad with blue cheese, house ranch, raspberry vinaigrette or balsamic vinaigrette dressing; entrees like roast leg of lamb, baked honey glazed ham, baked stuffed jumbo shrimp, maple salmon or vegetarian baked eggplant Parmesan; and desserts like lemon mascarpone cake, chocolate ganache cake, carrot cake, tiramisu cake and bread pudding.

MT’s Local Kitchen & Wine Bar (212 Main St., Nashua, 595-9334, mtslocal.com) will be open on Easter (Sunday, April 4) from noon to 5 p.m.

Nelson’s Candy and Music (65 Main St., Wilton, 654-5030, nelsonscandymusic.com) has several specialty seasonal offerings available for Easter, like handmade chocolate egg “boxes” and assorted Easter baskets filled with chocolate foil eggs, gummy bears, jelly beans and other assorted candies.

Oak & Grain Restaurant (Inn at Pleasant Lake, 853 Pleasant St., New London, 873-4833, innatpleasantlake.com) will serve a three-course prix fixe brunch menu for Easter on Sunday, April 4, with open seating between 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by a five-course dinner menu from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Takeout is also available.

Presto Craft Kitchen (168 Amory St., Manchester, 606-1252, prestocraftkitchen.com) is taking orders for a variety of seasonal items for Easter, including pizzagaina (ricotta pie with Italian meats), wood-fired lamb tips, brown sugar glazed ham, chicken Parmesan and shrimp and scallop scampi, plus desserts through its sister company Custom Eats & Sweets, like giant breakable chocolate eggs filled with gourmet treats, Easter egg-sicles, fresh filled cannolis and assorted Italian cookie platters. Order by March 28. Pickups will be on Friday, April 2, and Saturday, April 3.

Van Otis Chocolates (341 Elm St., Manchester, 627-1611, vanotis.com) has several specialty seasonal offerings available for Easter, like milk chocolate-dipped marshmallow Peeps, milk, dark or white chocolate bunnies, and chocolate Easter baskets filled with a variety of treats.

Wolfe’s Tavern (Wolfeboro Inn, 90 N. Main St., Wolfeboro, 569-3016, wolfestavern.com) will serve an Easter brunch on Sunday, April 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring items like pancakes, eggs Benedict, croissant French toast, roasted half chicken, sangria ham, deviled eggs, shrimp cocktail, coconut cream pie, lemon curd bars and more.

Woodstock Inn Brewery (135 N. Main St., North Woodstock, 745-3951, woodstockinnbrewery.com) is offering a two-night Easter getaway package, with an Easter brunch buffet on Sunday, April 4, that will include an omelet bar, a waffle bar, a carving station with ham and prime rib, and other items like eggs Benedict, vegetable lasagna and salmon. Reservations are accepted but not required.

Zorvino Vineyards (226 Main St., Sandown, 887-8463, zorvino.com) will serve an Easter brunch buffet on Sunday, April 4, with seatings at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Offerings will include a carving station with slow roasted prime rib of beef and apricot-glazed Easter ham, plus assorted warm croissants and pastries, stuffed crepes, pan scrambled eggs, smoked bacon and maple sausage, and a dessert display with assorted seasonal cookies and brownies, miniature carrot cupcakes with coconut frosting, bite-size filled cannolis and house made personal-sized pies and tartlets.

This story was possible with the generous financial support of Hippo readers. Hippo is very grateful to have the support of its readers. If you haven’t contributed yet, please consider a small contribution. Your contributions allow Hippo to write more stories and gets you access to additional stories and columns. 

Jeff LeDuc

Jeff LeDuc of Epping is the owner and founder of the Dawg Shed (find them on Facebook @dawgshed), a food stand he runs with family friend Shannon Knox that offers hot dogs, cold subs, salads, soups and other items made fresh daily, including chili dogs as specials on Fridays and Saturdays. LeDuc, who also owns a shed building and delivery company called JD’s Sheds and More, had been running a hot dog cart on the side at local venues for about three years. He started the Dawg Shed last December — you can find it next to Floral Expressions Boutique (252 Calef Hwy., Epping) every Tuesday through Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. and usually until the mid- to late afternoon, depending on the day.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

Definitely a knife. That’s the most important.

What would you have for your last meal?

Something Italian, probably chicken Parm.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

I have three that I visit very frequently that are all right here in town. Telly’s across the street, the Holy Grail Pub and then also DeBernardo’s.

What celebrity would you like to see visiting your food stand?

I’d love to see anyone from the [Boston] Bruins team from the ‘70s or ‘80s, [like] Bobby Orr, Terry O’Reilly or Brad Park. All of them are very supportive of the local hockey teams and are just great professional athletes.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

A sauerkraut dog with spiced mustard.

What is the biggest food trend in New Hampshire right now?

I think the trend is what we’re offering, which is fresh foods like homemade soups and sandwiches made right in front of you. … I think more people now feel the need to support local businesses in their community.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

I love doing omelets in the morning, usually bacon and cheese. In the evening, there’s nothing better than a nice T-bone steak cooked on the grill.

Cranberry walnut chicken salad
From the kitchen of Jeff LeDuc and Shannon Knox of the Dawg Shed in Epping (combine the following ingredients)
Oven roasted chicken breast (quantity depending on preference)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 to 3 cups mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons mixed Italian herbs

Featured photo: Jeff LeDuc of the Dawg Shed in Epping

Neighborhood pies

Elm House of Pizza opens in Manchester

Back in the 1970s, Elm House of Pizza was a downtown favorite among Manchester locals for its grinders, spaghetti dinners and dozens of pizza pie varieties. Decades later, a new Queen City eatery is channeling that nostalgic neighborhood vibe while offering its own spin on a traditional house of pizza.

The latest iteration of Elm House of Pizza, which opened March 15 in the old Theo’s restaurant, is the project of business partners Tim Baines of Mint Bistro and Bob Scribner of The Wild Rover Pub. Last summer the pair took over the 102 Elm St. space, which had most recently been Frida’s Tacos & Tequila but was Theo’s for more than 30 years before that.

Baines said the name was chosen as an homage to its 1970s predecessor — he recently shared a screenshot of its grand opening flyer from December 1973 on social media. The original Elm House of Pizza was a mile up the road at 866 Elm St. While there aren’t the same ingredients or recipes as from years past, what you will find in the new spot is what he calls a modern twist on a traditional house of pizza, featuring everything from house pies and appetizers to fresh seafood dinners, pastas, burgers and more.

“We were taking a look at what we thought might be missing in Manchester, and we really felt that the south end neighborhoods are underserved in the pizza category,” Baines said. “This is kind of an iconic space. Theo’s had a great run here … and we just thought it was a great location away from the hustle and bustle of Elm Street.”

Pizzas come in two sizes, with vegan cheese and gluten-free cauliflower crusts available as substitutes and individual slices likely offered every Monday through Friday until 5 p.m.

There’s a build-your-own option with dozens of toppings to choose from, in addition to several specialty pizzas — the House Pie, for instance, features tomato sauce, Italian sausage, ricotta cheese, a hot honey drizzle, and “cup-and-char” pepperoni, or smaller pepperoni pieces that form into cup shapes to trap the pizza’s natural juices.

“We’re definitely excited about how the House Pie is received. The flavors really come together in a magical way,” Baines said. “The cup-and-char pepperoni is different. … I think you’re starting to see it become more popular.”

But there’s also more to look forward to than the pizzas. Fresh haddock and scallops are served daily, as well as house entrees like spaghetti and meatballs, chicken or eggplant Parmesan, chicken and broccoli alfredo, marinated steak tip dinners or shrimp scampi. Gluten-free zucchini noodles can also be swapped for cavatappi on any of the pasta options.

Sandwiches are served with either hand cut fries, coleslaw, potato salad or a vegetable of the day, and include steak and cheese subs, meatball subs, lobster rolls and several types of burgers. The appetizers menu has unique options of its own, like house pepper jack cheese sticks with marinara sauce, loaded potato skins, bacon-wrapped scallops and garlic Parmesan cheese curds.

Most of the restaurant’s renovations took place in its bar area, which has been expanded. The drinks menu features an assortment of domestic and local craft beers, in addition to a few red and white wines and a selection of house mixed cocktails.

“Even though we’re not a sports bar, I certainly envision it being a great place to come watch a game, [or] maybe grabbing pizzas for the family and having a couple of beers while you’re waiting,” Baines said. “Most pizza places wouldn’t focus as much on the bar, but we want that to be a significant part of what we’re doing here.”

An outdoor patio at the rear of the restaurant seats about 40 people, and Baines said there are talks to extend the outdoor dining capacity in the parking lot during the summer. Online ordering and delivery are also expected in the coming weeks following the eatery’s initial opening week.

Elm House of Pizza
Where
: 102 Elm St., Manchester
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
More info: Visit elmhop.com, find them on Facebook and Instagram, or call 232-5522 to place a takeout order

Feautred photo: Meat Lover’s Pizza. Courtesy of Elm House of Pizza.

Flavors of India

Destination India opens in Derry

Mango Lassi. Photo courtesy of Destination India.

A new eatery has brought Indian cuisine to downtown Derry, offering authentic meals from several regions across the country. Aptly named Destination India, the restaurant and bar held a grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony on March 12 following a brief soft launch period.

Co-owner and chef Navanath “Navi” Avhad comes from Mumbai and has cooked Indian cuisine all over the United States. Connections with restaurant owners and friends eventually led Avhad to New England — he worked at Tulsi Indian Restaurant in Kittery, Maine, for a time before opening Destination India with three business partners: Ram Bodke, Megha Bodke and Pranav Ambekar.

Avhad, who currently lives in Manchester, said the four ultimately chose Derry both because of its large population and the lack of an authentic Indian restaurant downtown.

“I always drive on this road, and I see all the cuisines, like Italian, Mexican [and] Chinese,” he said, “but something was missing, and that was Indian.”

Avhad said the menu has some familiar dishes like vegetable samosas filled with potatoes, green peas and spices; chicken tikka masala, which is boneless chicken breast marinated in yogurt and spices and simmered in a tomato and cashew sauce; and multiple curries, with proteins like lamb, goat, chicken thighs or coconut shrimp. You’ll also find some lesser-known items, like chicken vindaloo, or chicken marinated in a vinegar mixture, cooked with potatoes in a hot gravy. According to Avhad, vindaloo is an especially popular dish in Goa, a state on the southwestern coast of India that was once colonized by Portugal. Many Goan dishes were in fact influenced by Portuguese cuisine due to the country’s centuries-long rule of the state — another option on the menu with Goan origins, he said, is shrimp balchao, or sauteed shrimp in a tangy, spicy sauce. It can be ordered as an appetizer or a main course.

Chicken Chettinad, or chicken cubed and cooked in fresh ground pepper, curry leaves, cilantro and spices, is also a traditional Southern Indian dish you’ll see on the menu. Other items are representative of northern Indian states, like paneer butter masala, or sauteed cheese that’s simmered in a tomato cashew cream curry sauce.

“We have the option of mild, medium and hot … for the spice level for our dishes, and people like that,” Avhad said. “We also have many vegetarian options for people.” One such dish is navratan korma, which literally translates to “nine-gem curry.” The different fruits, vegetables and nuts are the “gems” that make up the curry.

Some available items are cooked in a tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven that can reach temperatures of up to 900 degrees. In addition to tandoori chicken, shrimp and salmon, fresh flatbread called naan is baked fresh to order — you can get plain, butter or garlic naan, or a peshawari naan, which is filled with assorted nuts, coconut and dried fruits.

For desserts, Avhad makes his own kulfi, or Indian ice cream, in flavors like mango, pistachio and malai, a type of fresh cream. There’s also rice kheer (Indian rice pudding), gulab jamun (deep fried dumplings cooked in a cardamom syrup) and mango lassi, a smoothie-like blended drink of yogurt, water and spices.

Even though Destination India was open for takeout and delivery only during its initial soft launch, Avhad said his staff were busier than they ever could have expected — they even had to stop taking orders that first Saturday night to get caught up. The eatery is now open for full in-house dining, in addition to takeout and delivery through DoorDash, and is looking into adding more tables outside when steadier warm weather returns.

Garlic, butter and onion naan. Photo courtesy of Destination India.

Destination India Restaurant & Bar
Where
: 14A E. Broadway, Derry
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
More info: Visit destinationindianh.com, find them on Facebook @destinationindianh or call 552-3469

Feautred photo: Navratan Korma (nine-gem curry.) Photo courtesy of Destination India.

The Weekly Dish 21/03/18

News from the local food scene

Greek pastries to go: Join Assumption Greek Orthodox Church (111 Island Pond Road, Manchester) for a drive-thru bake fest on Saturday, March 27, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. An assortment of homemade baked goods and desserts prepared by volunteers and members of the church’s Philoptochos Ladies Society are available to order, like tsoureki (soft round sweet bread), baklava with walnuts and honey syrup, rizogalo (Greek rice pudding), kourambiedes (butter cookies rolled in powdered sugar), finikia (soft cookies flavored with orange zest and topped with crushed walnuts), galaktoboureko (creamy custard with honey lemon syrup) and koulourakia (crisp braided butter cookies), as well as spinach and cheese petas, and pastry sampler platters. Orders are online only and must be placed by March 24. The event is pickup only (no walk-ins) — similar drive-thru fests featuring more Greek meals are also planned for April and May. Visit foodfest.assumptionnh.org.

King Kone to reopen: Soft-serve ice cream stand King Kone (336 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack) will reopen for its 49th season on Saturday, March 20, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., owner George Soffron confirmed. King Kone features around 30 flavors of soft-serve ice cream, more than a half dozen of which are available at a given time. Soffron told the Hippo that the stand will be offering blackberry, coffee and orange flavors of soft-serve during its opening weekend, in addition to the usual chocolate, vanilla and twist — flavors are often rotated out each week on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. This will be the first season that King Kone will be accepting charge cards as a form of payment. The stand will be open Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, from noon to 9 p.m., but Soffron said those hours may extend to around 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays during the summer. Visit kingkonenh.com or find them on Facebook @kingkonemerrimack.

Plant-based palates: The Derry Public Library will hold a virtual presentation on Wednesday, March 24, at 6 p.m., all about plant-based diets. Hannaford dietitian Heidi Tissot will talk about the emerging plant-based eating movement and the foods that fit into this pattern with moderation. She’ll also showcase specific plant-based proteins and other vegan and vegetarian options that you can easily implement in your diet. Visit derry.org to register — a Zoom link will be sent to all participants prior to the program.

Cocktails and craft brews: Get your tickets now for one of two spring craft beer cocktail dinners at each of the Copper Door Restaurant locations (15 Leavy Drive, Bedford; 41 S. Broadway, Salem), the next installment of the eatery’s “Forks & Corks” dinner series. Happening on Tuesday, April 6, in Salem, and on Wednesday, April 7, in Bedford, each dinner will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by a multi-course meal of items paired with a different cocktail using a local or regional brew as an ingredient. Courses will include frisee salad, roast lamb, blackened halibut tostada, steak frites and an espresso mousse for dessert, while the breweries represented in the cocktail pairings will be 603 Brewery in Londonderry, Stoneface Brewing Co. in Newington, Jack’s Abby in Framingham, Mass., SoMe Brewing Co. in York, Maine, and Woodland Farms Brewery in Kittery, Maine. Tickets are $75 per person and must be purchased online in advance. Visit copperdoor.com.

Bryan Leary

Bryan Leary has been the executive chef of the Oak & Grain Restaurant (Inn at Pleasant Lake, 853 Pleasant St., New London, 873-4833, innatpleasantlake.com) since early 2016. In addition to indoor dining open to the public, the Oak & Grain is now offering seasonally inspired a la carte takeout meals. Its menu options change every two to three weeks but often include locally sourced steaks, seafood, soups and appetizers. Three-course brunches are served on Sundays. A New Hampshire native, Leary has amassed experience in all kinds of cooking styles over the course of his career. He graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island and later accepted a culinary position at the Scottsdale Fairmont Resort in Arizona. Before coming to the Inn at Pleasant Lake, he worked as a chef at The Grill Room in Portland, Maine.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

Either [a pair of] tongs, or my two-pound meat cleaver.

What would you have for your last meal?

My wife’s enchiladas with charred grilled chicken, and a Coke slurpee.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

I like The Coach House in New London. I also love The Black Trumpet [Bistro in Portsmouth]. Evan [Mallett] is an incredible chef there.

What celebrity would you like to see eating at your restaurant?

Probably [New York chef] Dan Barber. He’s one of my favorites. He’s incredibly smart in terms of food and expanding our horizons into what we should be eating.

What is your favorite thing that you’ve ever featured on your menu?

I really like being able to use product to create something that’s multi-faceted and just unique and different. … So, for example, we’ve done our own Tahitian buttermilk panna cotta from butter we make from local cream.

What is the biggest food trend in New Hampshire right now?

Switching to more of a family-friendly aspect in fine dining. We were strictly French service my first year here … [but] now the atmosphere is more easygoing and approachable.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

Barbecue food, because there’s a lot of complexity that goes into it. I love ribs especially.

Seared Canadian sea scallops and citrus-braised pork belly, with yellow curry yogurt, burnt leek puree, herbs and chicken kombu grains

From the kitchen of Bryan Leary of the Oak & Grain Restaurant, at the Inn at Pleasant Lake in New London

For the burnt leek puree:

Split a full leek down the middle. Rub with oil and burn on the grill or saute pan until black. Chop each side into quarters and place on a sheet tray. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove leek from the oven. Place it in a blender and puree with olive oil just until it is a smooth paste. Season with salt and a little bit of lemon juice. Set aside for plating.

For the yellow curry yogurt:
½ cup Greek yogurt
½ tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon yellow curry
juice of half a lemon

Mix all ingredients together until incorporated. Set aside for plating.

For the chicken kombu:
1 quart chicken stock (pre-bought or homemade)
2 tablespoons tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
1 sheet kombu seaweed
1 cup mixed grains (quinoa, sorghum, millet or other grain of choice)

Pour chicken stock, soy sauce and kombu seaweed into a saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes.

For the pork cure:
Juice and zest of 1 lime, 1 orange, 2 lemons and 1 grapefruit
½ cup salt
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup bourbon
Pork belly

Mix ingredients together and rub on both sides of the pork belly. Place in a hotel pan, wrap and refrigerate for two days. After removing the cure, line the same hotel pan with foil and parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for an hour and 45 minutes. Let it rest for 20 minutes, then cut up into 1-by-1-inch cubes. Set aside for plating. (Optional: For quicker time, you can use a few strips of bacon and bake at the same temperature for 17 minutes.)

Clean scallops under cold water, then pat dry. In a small mixing bowl, add a little oil and seasoning. Let the scallops sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. Add ½ tablespoon of oil to the pan. Carefully place scallops into the pan until golden brown, then flip and remove pan from heat. Let them sit in the pan for two minutes.

Add a small pile of the kombu chicken stock grains in the center of the plate, followed by a few dollops of burnt leeks puree. Place a few pieces of pork belly on top of the puree. Scatter the scallops around the plate, adding a dollop of curry yogurt on top of each. Sprinkle with fresh herbs.

Featured photo: Bryan Leary of Oak & Grain Restaurant in New London

Soup it up

Order now for outdoor SouperFest

Roasted Red Pepper & Butternut Squash Bisque from O Steaks & Seafood, Hungarian Mushroom Ale from the Concord Food Co-op, Smoked Brisket Chili from Georgia’s Northside — those are some of the soups on the menu for the 12th annual SouperFest, and you can only get them if you order ahead.
The event, hosted by the Concord Coalition to End Homelessness, will be held Saturday, March 20, at White Park in Concord.
In the past, Souperfest was held inside a school and brought in 800 to 1,000 attendees. Thirty-five soups were prepared mostly by home chefs and served to hungry patrons.
“People just had as much soup as they wanted,” said Greg Lessard, board vice chair of the Concord Coalition to End Homelessness.
This year, eight local restaurants will be preparing the soup, which must be pre-ordered on the Concord Coalition to End Homelessness’s website, concordhomeless.org. Anyone placing an order will select a half-hour window of time to pick up their soup.
With last year’s SouperFest getting canceled in March, Lessard said, soup orders are already pouring in for this year. The other five options are Pumpkin Apple Bisque from The Barley House, Clam Chowder from The Common Man, Vegetarian Chili from Hermanos Cocina Mexicana, Lentil Soup from The Works Cafe and Miso Noodle Soup from Col’s Kitchen.
“It’s a wonderful selection. You’re hard pressed to say ‘I’m only taking two of these,’” Lessard said. “The choices are so great you just can’t say no.”
Col’s Kitchen is a new face in Concord’s restaurant scene, having just opened in August. O Steaks & Seafood, meanwhile, has been participating in SouperFest since home chefs made up the bulk of the competition.
All proceeds from SouperFest will benefit the Concord Coalition to End Homelessness.
“[The Coalition] has a number of different programs that support people that are experiencing homelessness,” Lessard said.
These programs include an emergency winter shelter, a resource center and more.

SouperFest: Hosted by Concord Coalition to End Homelessness
When: March 20, 3 to 5:30 p.m.
Where: White Park, 1 White St, Concord
More info: concordhomeless.org/souperfest-2021

Featured photo: Hungarian Mushroom Soup from the Concord Food Co-op. Courtesy photo.

West Side comfort

Hotbox to open soon in Manchester

chicken wrap
Chicken teriyaki wrap. Courtesy photo.

Like many Granite Staters at the onset of the pandemic, Pedro Gonzalez of Manchester started cooking at home more often. Fast forward nearly a year and now he and several of his family members and friends are about to open their own eatery on the West Side, focusing on Latin soul and street foods with a New York City bodega-style storefront.

The concept of the Hotbox — fondly referred to by Gonzalez as simply “The Box” — began on a whim last spring with positive feedback for his family’s home-cooked Spanish meals.

“Restaurants were closed … and so our friends would come over and they’d be like, ‘What are you guys cooking? Can I grab a plate?’ We didn’t expect money or anything, so of course we were like, ‘Sure!’” said Gonzalez, a native of Bronx, N.Y. “Then we started showing our plates on social media, and it just took off after that, like wildfire.”

Gonzalez and his wife Kelli, daughter Ally, mother Sonia and family friends Kelley Richard and Kalley Mihalko all now have a hand in cooking or baking different items for the Hotbox. The original plan, he said, was for them to expand their newfound catering venture into a food truck before that later shifted to a brick-and-mortar restaurant. They found their current spot, most recently occupied by Rita Mae’s Restaurant, last August.

Hotbox’s menu will feature a variety of Latin soul and street food items, some of which will be available all the time, others on a rotating basis. Options may include chicken, beef or pork guisado, or a tomato-based sauce, with servings of rice and beans.

“Guisado is very popular in the Spanish community,” Gonzalez said. “We can do a Jamaican-style jerk chicken guisado, or we can do a hot Mexican guisado with spices. … We can do guisado with any meat, but the most popular one we have is our chopped chicken, which we cook in a sauce with onions and peppers.”

You’ll also find several types of empanadas and burritos, as well as Cubanos and fresh pressed sandwiches called “bobos” — the name, Gonzalez said, is a reference to Joseph “Bobo” Benedetti, who founded Benedetti’s Deli in Haverhill, Mass., in the early 1960s.

“I grew up literally five minutes from Benedetti’s Deli,” he said. “We’ll have massive subs, just like the ones I grew up eating.”

But Hotbox will offer more than just Spanish food — an ever-changing a la carte menu Gonzalez calls the “flip-flop” will be available to those who walk in, where you might find everything from pasta dishes to fried pork belly, half-chicken or shrimp. Once one “flip-flop” option is gone, he said, a new one will take its place.

Gonzalez said all kinds of unique dessert creations are expected too. One of the most popular options among their catering customers has been a layered “Oreo lasagna” cake.

Takeout and curbside pickup will be available, while between four and six tables will be set up in the eatery’s dining room by reservation only. Up to six people per party can reserve a table.

“We’re not trying to rush you out of here. We want to have it be a very intimate experience with your party when you come in to eat,” he said. “Our plates are big, too, so there will be leftovers.”

The front of the store will look similar to that of a bodega in New York City, with a few small grocery and household items for sale, as well as marinated meats, cold cuts and more.

Hotbox will be open for lunch and dinner to start, but Gonzalez said the plan is to branch out to serving continental breakfasts, omelets, breakfast sandwiches and other similar options.

Hotbox
An opening date announcement is expected in the coming weeks. Follow them on social media for updates.
Where: 280 Main St., Manchester
Hours: TBA
More info: Find them on Facebook @hotboxlfe or email hotboxlfe@gmail.com

Feautred photo: Jerk chicken plate with white rice and marinated onions. Courtesy photo.

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