Whipping up hundreds of dishes for a wedding is a feat not for the faint of heart. Dan Murillo, executive chef for Newport-based Plantation Catering, is no stranger to producing a high volume of edible creations using fresh ingredients. Now, Dan is bringing his love of art and quality cuisine to the recently opened Plantation at the Bay, a Jamestown restaurant featuring many seasonal, farm to table treats.
Plantation at the Bay’s menu includes many farm to table dishes. Do you work with local Rhode Island farmers?
We work through our primary vendors for produce, meats and poultry from around southern New England. This guarantees the quality, availability and certified products we seek.
How often does the menu change?
Our menus change with the season so that we can give our guests a feeling of New England foods year round. I take these ingredients and add a flair of creativity to them so that our food will never get boring. The true test of a chef is that he or she can develop a menu that stays consistently great while implementing new ideas and combinations.
How long have you been with Plantation Catering/Plantation at the Bay?
I have been with Plantation Catering for five great years. I have learned a few key parts to being successful as a chef: always stay calm, cool and collected. Planning and organization is key to expressing my artistic talent and creativity through my food. Growing up I was a skilled artist and now my painters pallet is culinary ingredients.
How does catering-style cooking differ from creating meals in a regular kitchen?
With catering you have the ability to personalize the food for your clients; it’s all about them. We give our clients the feel that we are their personal chefs for their occasion. Whereas in a restaurant, there is a set menu and the ability to give guests that feeling can be challenging. At Plantation at the Bay we try to cater to our guests to the best of our ability.
Does severe weather affect your choice of ingredients?
It can during the winter months when local farmers are not producing large quantities of product that we need. This can drive prices higher and in return makes it more challenging to create a menu that will stay cost effective. Raising prices is not always the answer. Plantations seek to deliver a quality product at the best price we can.
Where do you find your inspiration when it comes to crafting a dish?
My inspiration stems from the wide range of products that I am able to work with. When I am approached with an ingredient I automatically start thinking of combinations of flavors and ways to highlight them. To me, anything can be the center of the plate so long as it’s exposed to show off its flavor.
What makes “Chef Dan’s Bolognaise” different from a traditional Bolognese?
Chef Dan’s Bolognaise has been the same recipe I have made for years; I’ve never changed it. I have gotten great feedback from that dish for a long time so why change a recipe that’s great? It’s a perfect dish for the winter months - which means if you read between the lines it won’t be on our next menu, so hurry down to Plantation at the Bay and give it a try!