One of only two U.S. restaurants new to list; only one in eastern half of the country
Farmington, PA (November 12, 2007) — Take a 29 year-old chef who is self-taught and pair him with a 29 year-old restaurant manager, and what do you get? A Five Diamond rating for Lautrec, the fine dining restaurant at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort located in the mountains of Southwestern Pennsylvania. You also get the only new AAA Five Diamond-rated restaurant in the entire eastern half of the United States, and Pennsylvania’s first new Five Diamond restaurant in 13 years.
Lautrec’s Five Diamond rating marks the second Five Diamond award Nemacolin Woodlands Resort has received – the resort’s Falling Rock boutique hotel received the Five Diamond award in 2007 and again for 2008. Designed on the architectural principles and style of legendary American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, Falling Rock is one of only 100 hotels across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean to achieve the prestigious status. Falling Rock makes the fourth hotel in Pennsylvania to achieve Five Diamond status. The 42-room luxury, boutique hotel offers 24-hour butler service for guests, with complimentary services including unpacking/packing clothes, ironing clothes, shining shoes, wake up service, drawing a bath, and more.
Lautrec restaurant is named after French artist Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, and the innovative cuisine is the culinary artwork of Chef Dave Racicot, Pittsburgh’s Rising Star Chef in 2006 (Pittsburgh Magazine) and one of five Rising Star Chefs in the United States (gayot.com, 2006). Racicot’s education and training is from the school of self-taught, with experience gained working under the chefs at Nemacolin, as well as Le Cirque and Picasso in Las Vegas.
“Excited doesn’t even begin to explain it,” the young chef says when asked what achieving Five Diamond status means to him. “At Lautrec, we put so much focus on the complete dining experience. We think about every aspect of each dish, the flavors and textures of each ingredient, how they mix with each other and – for the Chef’s Tasting and Grand Tasting menus – how each course flows with the course before it and after it. To be recognized and rewarded in this way for what we do is just incredible.”
“This year, there are only 46 restaurants in the entire United States that achieved Five Diamond status,” says Trey Matheu, director of resort operations for Nemacolin Woodlands. “Many of these are located in large metropolitan areas. But here is Lautrec, located at a resort in the mountains of Southwestern Pennsylvania – led by a chef who is only 29 and is the oldest in the kitchen, paired with a dining room manager who is also 29 and leads a team whose average age is just 31. What do you say to that? It is just simply phenomenal.”
Nemacolin’s Executive Chef Jeremy Critchfield – who assembled Lautrec’s award-winning team – takes the Five Diamond’s personally. “I feel like a proud father,” says Critchfield. “Lautrec receiving the AAA Five Diamond rating has been my top goal since returning to Nemacolin as Executive Chef four-and-a-half years ago. Putting together the team that made the Five Diamond dream a reality ranks as the greatest accomplishment in my 18 years in this industry.”
Critchfield has worked at three Five Diamond properties other than Nemacolin and was involved in two of those earning their Five Diamond status. But, he says that as a Pittsburgh area native, none of those compares to bringing this dining distinction to Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Adds Restaurant Manager Michael Scherzberg, “What I am most proud of is how our team, which is small compared to most restaurants of this level, performs service of AAA Five Diamond standards night after night.”
Scherzberg would know – his background includes The Restaurant at Meadowood Napa Valley, The New Orleans Grill at the Windsor Court Hotel (New Orleans), The Patina Group (Los Angeles), and The Inn at Little Washington (Washington, Va.)
Resort President and Owner, Maggie Hardy Magerko, adds “At Nemacolin, we constantly stress to our associates that they are the ones that make the resort successful. Our achievements are always because of our people. I am so very, very proud of Chef Dave, of Michael Scherzberg the restaurant manager, and each member of the Lautrec team. When our Falling Rock hotel achieved Five Diamond status last year, the excitement and pride was over the top. But this time, achieving two Five Diamond awards, it simply is just beyond words.”
“Five Diamond establishments reflect the characteristics of ultimate luxury and sophistication,” said Michael Petrone, director of AAA Tourism Information Development. “The physical attributes of these properties are extraordinary in every manner, and personalized services for guests consistently exceed expectations of even the most refined traveler. To achieve and maintain this level of service is an amazing accomplishment, and AAA is pleased to honor these establishments as Five Diamond Award recipients.”
AAA’s Diamond Rating System is the only ratings system that covers all of North America and one of only two that conduct physical, on-site evaluations. It is the only system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis using a set of guidelines that are made available to all establishments. AAA rates more properties than any other rating entity. AAA considers and investigates member feedback during reviews, but does not depend on guest opinions to derive a rating. In addition, AAA provides travelers the opportunity to post comments about their experiences at AAA Approved establishments.
In celebration of Lautrec’s Five Diamond award, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is offering a special First Seating Package, which includes one night’s accommodations and the Grand Tasting Menu in Lautrec. Pricing is based per person. For reservations, call 1-866.399.6957 or go online to nemacolin.com.
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