Wednesday, September 11, 2013

At 'The Dock' with Chef Ben

With a natural ability and a strong desire, Chef Ben Reynolds began his culinary career at The Dry Dock Restaurant in 1994. Having benefited greatly from being “raised in the kitchen” by his Eastern Shore parents, the then 21 year old landed on the Western Shore and began assisting in the tiny kitchen of what was already a wildly popular Solomons restaurant. A year later, he took the helm as the Head Chef, largely self-taught, wow-ing customers with his creativity.
“The Zahnisers took a risk on me at the start. They are great to work for – honest – fair – and have always been good to me,” stated Ben.

For his first eight years Chef Ben experimented with flavors and food trends, serving up innovative gastronomic delights and building further on The Dry Dock Restaurant’s strong reputation. With an arsenal of cook books and an intuitive sense about food, he was on board when the cozy restaurant with the tiny kitchen expanded to a larger space at Zahniser’s Yachting Center.
Like the siren’s call, the Eastern Shore was beckoning Ben back home, so he packed up and embarked upon the opportunity to start his own restaurant. This experience would prove to be invaluable for him, learning the nuts and bolts of the restaurant business. The learning was not without challenges. After a few years he realized just how much he “needed to get back in the kitchen.” And the kitchen was at his Western Shore “home” - at The Dry Dock. The only other time he wasn’t whipping things up at The Dry Dock - as only he can do - was due to his commitment to family.

Passionate about food and creating great meals, Ben has an enthusiasm about menu planning (practically bubbling over about the new Fall Menu, which will be unveiled later week), private parties, researching recipes online, and working with younger people who bring a refreshing jolt of creativity into the kitchen and to the table.
Throughout his years of experience, Ben has humbly learned that “experience is a double-edged sword. Sometimes I can throw things together and it turns out to be awesome. Other times, I may have forgotten an ingredient or an old rule of thumb and it can be a disaster.” He also feels strongly about buying local as much as possible, offering the very best cuts of meat and the freshest seafood, and making certain that every customer is happy with their meal. He continues to stay current on culinary trends, attracting customers from near and far.
Although many chefs can be competitive by nature, he is not. With the growing number of dining options available on Solomons, he sees the draw of more people to the island as a benefit. The only one Chef Ben competes with is himself, committed to doing his very best work and continuing to build on The Dry Dock’s success every day.
Stay tuned for the Fall Menu from Chef Ben coming very soon!

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