February 25, 2010

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New chef for the Granite
Corey Fletcher brings his own style to Concord cuisine

By Linda A. Thompson-Odum food@hippopress.com

The Granite Restaurant and Bar in the Centennial Hotel in Concord gained a reputation for high quality and creative cuisine under Chef Matt Lee. Now new chef Corey Fletcher, who took over in early February when Lee decided to move closer to family in Williamsburg, Va., plans to continue that standard while adding his own personal style to the menu.

Fletcher graduated from the culinary programs at Southern New Hampshire University and New Hampshire College. He’s worked in a number of restaurants in the New England region, and is best known in this area for his time at 55 Degrees in Concord and Colby Hill Inn in Henniker. The Hippo asked the chef about his culinary style and what he has planned for the Granite.

When did you know you first wanted to be a chef?
I just kind of fell into it. I enjoyed cooking growing up. I cooked Christmas cookies and stuff with my mom. Helped out with dinner and cooked stuff on the grill. When it was time for me to get a job I started working as a dishwasher. I got sucked in by this huge culinary vacuum. I just kind of fell into it at that point. I liked the camaraderie, the passion and the energy of the kitchen, especially on busy nights when all systems are working and smooth. It’s fun. It has to be. I wouldn’t work these long hours if it wasn’t fun.

What kind of hours do you usually work?
Last week I worked 60. I know people in this industry who work far more, and people who work less. It’s rewarding in its own sense. It helps the week go by fast. Besides, it’s not like I’m cooking for 12 hours straight. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that happens. My day is really broken up into office stuff in the middle of the day, and then the nighttime crew starts getting there and I start working on the specials with them and going over any reservations and functions. It’s really broken down into three parts.

People are familiar with you from 55 Degrees and Colby Hill. What are some of the differences [between] what you did at those other two places and what you do here at the Granite?
It’s going to be almost full circle for me. There’s a different clientele at the inn — people who traveled a little bit more. Plus the menu had to be created in such a way [as] to allow locals to still have some comfort food and some familiarity with the dishes. So I couldn’t do crazy stuff. Here I’m probably going to do things similar to 55 Degrees. Obviously Matt did a great job creating the basis for the menu here, and I want to keep that so it doesn’t detour people who are used to coming here. But I’ve got a good group of guys who are going to allow me to be more creative. At 55 Degrees I was often limited by the staff because it was me and only one other person in the kitchen. Here I’m going to be doing the same number of covers [meals] with almost twice the amount of staff. So I can put a lot more detail into the food and make sure the guys cooking are doing the exact same thing.

How much of the menu is going to stay the same, and how much are you going to change?
Eventually I want to create the menu to my style. Matt’s ideas aren’t too far off. I haven’t done too much in the Latin, Caribbean, Pacific Rim stuff — doesn’t mean I don’t like it. But I’m going to try to make it more regional and more seasonal.

What is your style?
I’d say New American Regional Seasonal. Taking classic standard dishes and making them 10 times better. An example would be a chowder I did at the inn. The inspiration was clam chowder, but I did a house-smoked haddock chowder. New England fish for a New England dish, but the ingredients were prepared a little different to create a different style of chowder.

Do you have dishes you consider your specialty?
I’ve always enjoyed cooking scallops and duck. From 55 Degrees, people have known me for cooking duck. I’ve always done the same spice rub — cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, salt and pepper. I had a waitress once, she remembered it as a pumpkin pie spice with salt and pepper. Originally I put it on a fall menu, so that’s why those warmer fall spices are in there, but it’s such a good blend that it doesn’t really taste like fall, so those flavors can really go with anything. I cook it in a hot pan so it renders out the skin and it gets nice and crispy and dark.

Anything else that you want people to know about you?
I’m just really excited to be here. It’s a great opportunity. And I look forward to seeing a bunch of regulars from 55 Degrees. It’s good to be back in Concord.



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12/17/2009 Foodie gifts for 2009
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11/19/2009 Barbecue all year
11/12/2009 Ciao Italia at Cotton
11/05/2009 Hops in Hooksett
10/29/2009 A 200-pound meatball in Concord?
10/22/2009 Hops in Hooksett
10/15/2009 A sweet little spot in the Capital City
10/8/2009 30 restaurants, one stop
10/1/2009 T-Bones: 22 new dishes for 25 years
9/24/2009 Sausage seller settles in
9/17/2009 Glendi means good times
9/10/2009 Sunny Side Up in Concord
9/3/2009 The night of 26 restaurants
8/27/2009 Milltowne at the airport
8/20/2009 Feast Day for all
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7/30/2009 And the sippin is easy ...
7/23/2009 South of the border west of the river
7/16/2009 the food is the best part
7/9/2009 Today Pittsfiled, tomorrow the world
7/2/2009 The art of the sandwich
6/25/2009 Kitchens then and now
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6/11/2009 Newly minted
6/4/2009 It's a stretch
5/28/2009 A South End tradition continues in Concord
5/21/2009 Nibbling through downtown
5/14/2009 Gyro, pastichio or spanakopeta?
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4/30/2009 A Taste of old favorites, new dishes
4/23/2009 A week of eats in Manchester
4/16/2009 So happy together
4/9/2009 After candy, brunch and diner
4/2/2009 All made right here
3/26/2009 A sappy story
3/19/2009 Five-course trip to Lebanon
3/12/2009 Irish meals
3/5/2009 Get a peice of the farm
2/26/2009 Before late night eats,an evening at the pub
2/19/2009 Drinks with Dan Akroyd
2/12/2009 Crooked Birch branches out
2/5/2009 Dinner with your sweetheart
1/29/2009 Food for the 50-yard line
1/22/2009 Artisan bread at The Good Loaf
1/15/2009 "Fold, mush, turn"
1/8/2009 Once upon a time at a bistro...
1/1/2009 Zacky's to go
12/25/2008 2008 in small bites
12/18/2008 Manchestert brewing opens in Concord
12/11/2008 Delicious gifts for the foodie
12/4/2008 New chef at UnWine'd
11/27/2008 Corks pops at BVI
11/20/2008 Big plates, big food
11/13/2008 IPA first prize
11/6/2008 You want it? He'll bring it.
10/30/2008 Cooking up a mystery
10/23/2008 Running with the bulls
10/16/2008 Like grandma made it
10/9/2008 The flavor of Concord
10/2/2008 Indie donuts rising
9/25/2008 Buy a bowl, feed the hungry
9/18/2008 Oktoberfest — for a cause
9/11/2008 A slice ofGreece, Asia, France...
9/4/2008 Flavors of Manchester
8/28/2008 D.I.Y. sausage
8/21/2008 Summertime and the living is chilli
8/14/2008 Weekend of festivals
8/7/2008 Going for pizza gold
7/31/2008 Red and juicy, from vine to table
7/24/2008 Meet the Manch-vegans
7/17/2008 Meet the winemaker
7/10/2008 Pupusas, cervesa y batidos
7/03/2008 3C's Cafe opens in Highlander Inn
6/26/2008 Oh, tartar sauce!
6/19/2008 From farm to grill
6/12/2008 450 pounds of lamb
6/5/2008 Travel the culinary world at BVI
5/29/2008 Chocolate throwdown
5/22/2008 Hit the road for some Yum-Yum
5/15/2008 Local, gluten-free and ready made
5/8/2008 The return of brownies and pasta
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4/24/2008 Noshing and shopping
4/17/2008 Celebrating with Greek eats
4/10/2008 Drive-ins open for the season
4/3/2008 Noshing for a cause
3/20/2008 The Easter Bunny brings dinner
3/13/2008 The Irish Spirit
3/6/2008 The sweet season
2/28/2008 Cambodian (or Italian) made easy
2/21/2008 Fresh fish comes to Nashua
2/14/2008 Hearts and fibers
2/7/2008 A romantic dinner for two
1/31/2008 Celebrate Mardi Gras
1/24/2008 Morroccan in Milford
1/17/2008 The chef is inn
1/10/2008 Italian street food in NH
1/10/2008 The contorni approach
1/3/2008 Like Disneyland for foodies
12/27/2007 More food and wine events, a menu for the bar
12/20/2007 Lots of dough
12/13/2007 Gifts for gourmands
12/6/2007 Making spirits really bright
11/22/2007 Just don't ask them to cook
11/15/2007 Easy as pie
11/8/2007 Italian eats, bistro style
11/1/2007 Bringing Italia to New Hampshire
10/25/2007 Trick or treat, the grown-up version
10/18/2007 Shop where the pros go
10/11/2007 Enjoy apple season from orchard to plate
10/04/2007 Tradition on the menu
9/27/2007 Meet your pig
9/20/2007 In search of the right meat
9/20/2007 Vegan blogger branches out
9/13/2007 Get ready to eat
9/6/2007 Fifty years of fair
8/30/2007 The buzz about peach fuzz
8/23/2007 Enjoy the Caribbean, sans hurricanes
8/16/2007 Festival weekend
8/9/2007 Still time to scream
8/2/2007 Perfecting a pound of pasta
7/26/2007 Gourmet Concord?
7/19/2007 Tart treats of a New Hampshire summer
7/12/2007 Reintroducing ratatouille
7/5/2007 Time to hit the grill
6/28/2007 Peanutty dinner delight
6/21/2007 Spicy meat, grilled meat and saucy meat
6/14/2007 Holy Barbecue
6/07/2007 A wine for Red Sox
5/31/2007 Pinot noir romance
5/24/2007 Josh Logan eats (not before shows)
5/17/2007 Baklava, spanakopita and souvlaki ó a.k.a. dinner
5/10/2007 Cremeland celebrates 60 years of burgers and shakes
5/3/2007 New eats in bloom
4/26/2007 Pho sure
4/19/2007 Cakes, cow-free
4/12/2007 Serving up the first square
4/5/2007 More than just a chocolate bunny
3/29/2007 New 'nuches
3/22/2007 A taste of genuine sweetness
3/15/2007 From homemade to home business
3/8/2007 Shop the farmers' market year round
3/1/2007 Feeding Mama Kicks
2/22/2007 Keepers of the vino
2/15/2007 Noodly comfort food
2/8/2007 The luxury of osso bucco
2/1/2007 Super platters for the Super Bowl
1/25/2007 It's a wrap
1/18/2007 The writing foodie
1/11/2007 Where the beef is, piled high and hot
1/04/2007 The healthy foodie
12/28/2006 The return of pasta and fall of the diet: the year in eats
12/21/2006 Organic on the ice
12/14/2006 French but not fussy
12/07/2006 Southeast U.S. culture, in sandwich form
11/30/2006 Bites of comfort with chips of happiness
11/23/2006 Cityside adds class to conveniece
11/16/2006 Easier-to-enjoy Thanksgiving feasts
11/9/2006 The new classic
10/26/2006 Whip up a quiche
10/19/2006 A new way to crepe
10/12/2006 Comfort food for blokes and birds
10/05/2006 Smaller crop but still red and delicious
09/28/2006 The crunchier, lighter, healthier wrap
09/21/2006 City bagels in suburbia
09/14/2006 Cracking the custard code
09/07/2006 Eat your way down the block
08/31/2006 New flavors for an old summer dish
08/24/2006 Way down south in Hollis
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08/10/2006 Enjoy the bluest month
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03/02/2006 Dumplings demystified
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02/02/2006 Forget formal dining, head to the bar
01/26/2006 Goodbye rooster, hello year of the dog
01/19/2006 The secret lives of chefs
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01/05/2006 A sunny Italian side dish
A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
abel
A picnic ó itís romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Empanadas
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead ó run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
Itís not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days

Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken ó no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: itís whatís for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
You say tomato, writer says lunch