Chef Kevin Cottle

Kevin Cottle has been to hell and back on the hit show Hell’s Kitchen and has hit the slopes as Executive Chef of the new destination restaurant Fire at the Ridge at Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort. Located in Middlefield, CT., the full-service restaurant will serve up artfully-inspired regional cuisine. The Fire is our passion that can be seen throughout the mountain. It comes through in our food, our dedication to teaching adventure sports and our resolve to create unique experiences.

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Well-known in the Connecticut food scene, Kevin will bring his elegant cooking style and passion for local ingredients to Fire at the Ridge. “I am really looking forward to returning to a public restaurant atmosphere,” says Kevin “My goal is to guide a guest through a natural progression of flavors and textures using locally-grown products. It should be a simple experience, never over-barring or over-complicated.” As a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and New England native, Kevin was exposed to cooking at a young age and brings his love for seafood and fresh produce into many of his signature dishes.

Getting to Know Chef Cottle

What inspired you to become a chef?

I wanted a dirt bike and I got my first job when I was 14 as a restaurant dishwasher to pay for it. I guess you could say that a dirt bike was the reason I choose the culinary arts! The restaurant was a mom and pop place in my hometown of Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was called Daffodils and served Colonial style food. They had old maple booths, pewter plates and loads of stuff hanging on the walls, typical old New England charm. I liked the chaos that was going on in the kitchen. There was one Chef and I would watch him push out food all alone, I thought wow that guy is really good at his job.

What would you say is your favorite cuisine to cook?

To me that is like asking a painter what is your favorite color? I enjoy so many different cuisines but if I had to go in a single direction I would have to say seafood would be my preference.

We have to ask, what was it like working with Chef Ramsey from Hell’s Kitchen?

Hell’s Kitchen was a roller-coaster ride of insanity. I made it all the way to the end so I must have done something right for Chef Ramsey. I enjoyed the attention to detail he hammered on us. It makes every bit of sense when it comes to consistency. I loved the fast pace and the surprise turns, It was a lot of fun… after the fact!

The restaurant or catering business is very competitive how do you make sure you stay ahead of today’s culinary trends?

I don’t overly worry about trends.  I try to play a little of course but my goal is to make incredibly tasty food in new and different ways. I try to stay simple with great quality food cooked to perfection and artfully served.

What accomplishments are you most proud of in your career this far?

I’ve had a lot of great opportunities along the way and learned from each of them. It was an honor to cook to a jammed packed crowd at the Annual “Soft Shell Crab Extravaganza” held at the James Beard House in NYC. I was also asked to cook my interpretation of a “New England Summer Dinner” at the Culinary Vegetable Institute in Huron, Ohio. I was very influenced by this experience; the Culinary Vegetable Institute initiated the farm to table concept. 12 years ago it was strange to see odd parts of vegetables and plants on a plate. I brought this concept back to CT. and have used sustainable agriculture as a cornerstone of my cooking philosophies ever since.

Fast forward a bit and it brings us to your current project, Powder Ridge Mountain Park & Resort.    Can you tell us more about this?

This is where I bring all my experiences together, to the Mountain! O.k., a bit dramatic but I’m extremely enthused about creating two long standing dreams of mine in one location. Sean Hayes and the team of Investors at Powder Ridge are behind the launching of my American Tavern vision, which will be The Ridgeside Tavern and an upscale contemporary restaurant, Fire at The Ridge. We want to create a destination for Connecticut.

One last question, did you get the dirt bike?