Diners at the Chebeague Island Inn, which opens for the season on May 16, are in for a treat.
Brandon Hicks, whose resume includes Michelin-starred restaurants in New York, California and France, showcased his cooking at an intimate tasting dinner in Yarmouth last night, hosted by the Prentice family, who own the inn.
Hicks studied at the French Culinary Institute in New York City (now the International Culinary Center) and has a BA in Marketing from Missouri State University. He spent the last three years as chef de cuisine at ilili Restaurant; previously, he was chef de cuisine at Brasserie 8 1/2, maitre fromager at Artisanal Restaurant; and chef de partie at Picholine — all in New York City. He has also worked at Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, California; Maison Pic in Valence, France; and Le Grand Vefour in Paris. Hicks is also certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers; one of the wines at the tasting dinner was from his own cellar.
Feast your eyes …
My takeaway from the tasting: Hicks is a confident chef with the skills to deftly combine ingredients in novel ways — such as lamb belly and cuttlefish — without going over the experimental edge. From the pickled ramps with the Belon oyster, to the passionfruit seeds with the baba au rhum, he clearly knows how to effectively balance flavor and texture, giving each dish an element of surprise.
It will be interesting to see what he comes up with for a summer menu at the inn, which is poised to be a serious dining destination.