Honey is an ingredient you might take for granted. But two suburban chefs are treating honey with great care, since they're maintaining their own hives and harvesting it themselves.
A garden on-site is one thing. Having a dozen bee hives is quite another. The commitment to harvesting their own honey at the Marriott Lincolnshire Resort is admirable, especially since the chef is also the beekeeper.
"Having bees helps us in many dishes that we use every day from all the restaurants," said the Marriott's Executive Chef, Pierre Daval.
I got to check out the honey production up-close, and while the incessant buzzing is a little hard to get used to, the results are delicious: used to make a vinaigrette that graces fresh tomatoes, or in a glaze that surrounds ahi tuna; even in creme brulee. Nearby Lake Bluff Brewery gets enough to make a Honey Badger beer.
"It's so awesome to have them here for the food but also the garden, so it helps pollinate our garden," said Daval.
The two mile radius around the Oak Brook Hills Resort is also fair game for pollination, courtesy of the eight hives kept on property. The bees create quite a bit for the aptly-named B Restaurant.
"I'm the beekeeper," said Sean Patrick Curry, the Executive Chef at B. "I could've probably got one of my cooks to do it, but it kind of keeps me in touch with why I'm doing this and why I believe in the hive-to-plate."
Curry showed me how he removes the frames from the hive, then scrapes off the golden, naturally sweet honey; the cleaned frames are set into an oscillator to remove anything left over. He uses it to sweeten greens, or in an apple cider gravy with lamb chops; in a marinade for chicken or drizzled over a brie and pancetta pizza.
"Once you taste this honey - and I'm not sure exactly where they get it from, the trees or our own garden here - but it's a very unique tasting honey and once you have it, it's really difficult to go back to plain sweeteners," said Curry.
In the summertime, the chef says a little over half the menu had honey from his local hives. Now that it's moving into the fall, that number jumps to over 80 percent, including the bread service.
EXTRA COURSE: A look at 2 desserts at B Restaurant
Marriott Lincolnshire Resort
10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire
3500 Midwest Rd, Oak Brook
Chefs at Marriott Lincolnshire Resort, B. Restaurant harvesting their own honey
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