The Life of Spice

A Spice Weekend at The Ballantyne with Chef Garrett Merck

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Later this month The Ballantyne will be hosting Chef Lior for a Spice Weekend, where he will work together with Chef Garrett Merck to produce a Dinner Under the Stars. In this month’s interview Chef Garrett answers our questions about the event, the hotel, and himself.

photo by Ray Sepesy

Thank you Garrett for taking the time to speak with us, we’re very excited about this upcoming Spice Weekend, can you tell us a bit more about the meal you are planning?

We’re planning a beautiful dinner under the stars. It’ll be a three-course meal featuring fresh and in season ingredients, and of course, spices. I don’t want to give too much away but I can say we are very excited about the dessert Lior is working on.

Do you have a dish or component you are particularly excited about?

Lior is exceptionally talented and creative, so initially it was hard to pinpoint one item that I was particularly excited about; however, now I am really looking forward to incorporating the spice blend into plans for bread service. We are going to bake our bread in-house, and this effort will highlight all the subtle nuances of the spice blend. The floral aromatics and herbs are going to shine against the backdrop of honey and the spice from the Aleppo chili flake, and I can’t wait for our guests to try it.

That sounds great! So do you have a favorite spice or blend? Why?

I enjoy roasted garlic and acidic flavors. My favorite spice is dehydrated roasted garlic, blended with salt and pepper, and a little chili for heat along with citric acid.

Nice, incorporating a wide range of flavors there. So what’s your favorite thing about your vocation?

Having the ability to mentor young cooks and seeing the light bulb go off in their head when they bridge the gap of knowledge. I continue to be inspired by my passionate, dedicated and talented team members and strive to create an environment that is conducive to positivity and respect while constantly exploring the ever-changing culinary realm.

Thank you. And what’s something not everyone knows about you that you’d love for people to know?

I did not go to culinary school. I have always appreciated culinary arts, and from a young age, I wanted to be in the kitchen. I used to ask my grandmother if I could help her and she would say, “yes, pull a chair up to the sink and wash these pots for me.” So being a sous chef came naturally to me, and I love to learn. My love for nature and learning, as well as creativity and the opportunity to teach, is ultimately the fuel that feeds my fire as a chef.

Wow that’s very cool, we love to see passionate people like you succeed through hard word and dedication. Thanks again for helping create and exciting Spice Weekend, we heard even your spa is getting in on it by incorporating a blend into a treatment.

Yes, The Spa is working with Chef Lior on integrating the Ballantyne blend into spa treatments soon.

© Critsey Rowe Photography

Love it! We are looking forward to it!

The events take place at The Ballantyne October 19-21, 2018. For more information please call the hotel at 866-248-4824

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Garrett Merck
Originally from Rock Hill, SC, Garrett Merck has spent the past 18 years serving in the hospitality industry. Learning to cook at a young age, Merck was inspired by the ever-changing world of culinary arts.With 14 years of culinary adventures defining his present approach to gastronomy, Merck brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to the role of executive chef at The Ballantyne. Committed to sourcing local food, practicing sustainable measures and influencing creativity, Merck directs food preparation for all culinary outlets of the hotel and works to ensure the highest level of quality, consistency and presentation.

Earlier in his career, Merck worked at The Ballantyne as sous chef of Gallery Restaurant, Charlotte’s only Forbes Four-Star recognized culinary destination at the time, working under his mentor, Chef de Cuisine David Moore. Leading the team to several distinguished awards within the local community, Merck found the resources and determination to continue his passion for culinary and press for higher standards within the hotel. Merck joined The Ballantyne in 2010, where he was involved in the daily operation and production of Gallery Restaurant.

About The Ballantyne
Experience Southern hospitality, curated experiences and resort amenities in a distinctive luxury setting at The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Charlotte. The Forbes Four-Star, AAA Four-Diamond award-winning hotel offers a welcoming and relaxing environment throughout your stay. An approachable elegance permeates The Ballantyne with warmth and establishes a unique sense of place. Escape to the pools, spa or play a round of golf or tennis. Savor artfully presented, regionally inspired new American cuisine, and sample one of the Carolinas’ largest whiskey collections. Guests enjoy curated experiences like afternoon tea. A complimentary Ballantyne-area shuttle is available for nearby dining and conveniences. Explore this dynamic city, exceptional outdoor recreation or venture out to wander idyllic country roads.

The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Charlotte
10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway
Charlotte, NC 28277
866-248-4824 │ Reservations 888-627-8048

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