The Daily News Record July 22, 2017-
New Joshua Wilton House Head Chef's Experience Includes Cooking for the Queen of England
"Tom French, 31, was born in Essex, England. He became interested in the culinary world after chefs from a culinary school visited his high school. He received his culinary training from the Colchester Institute. French also worked at his father's restaurant, The Kingfisher Cafe.
Around a decade ago, French interned at Buckingham Palace, cooking for the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, the royal family, and their guests for two weeks. 'It was pretty amazing,' French said. 'The first day we did canapes for the Olympic reception that was being held in London.' After working at Buckingham Palace, French was moved to Windsor Castle, where the queen was spending Easter. 'We were doing like 600 to 800 staff meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then 15 royal meals, so that would be like breakfast, lunch, light tea and dinner, as well as for her and her guests and family.'
French crossed the pond to work at the Joshua Wilton House in 2009, where he has served as a sous chef for the last eight years. After his promotion, starting in February, French has been working on switching up the menu and experimenting with different cooking techniques.
'I changed the whole menu within a few weeks of taking over,' he said. 'He's great about using Valley-sourced local products in the French style,' co-owner Jeff Hill said. 'We're excited about the growth at the helm in the kitchen, Tom's a tremendous talent. He's rare in a sense that most of the time with executive chefs, you'll get people who are very extroverted, very outspoken and a lot of times their talent is not near as good as how they brag. Tom's rare in that he has much more talent than he says.'
Along with the release of new menus to change with the seasons, French also plans to create a new chef's tasting menu starting in the fall. French is looking forward to bringing new ideas to the Valley's culinary scene."
The Washington Post April 2016 -
"Be thankful you don’t handle the books for this Victorian mansion-turned-B&B. “We work with over 60 local farmers,” says general manager Brad Reese. “It makes bookkeeping a nightmare, but it’s worth it.” The diverse, near-obsessive sourcing means only top-notch meat and produce hits your plate, including pork from Autumn Olive Farms and organic poultry from Polyface Farms. Run by chef Brian Bogan, the kitchen serves Southern classics with a French twist, such as duck breast served with lentils, country ham and a duck confit bon bon.
Upstairs, you’ll find five inn rooms decorated with country chic details like floral wallpaper and carved wooden bed frames. Each has views of Harrisonburg, Va. — the city at the heart of the Shenandoah Valley and the home to James Madison University. Explore around the historic campus and you’ll find independently owned boutiques, cafes and breweries. More outdoorsy types can head to a handful of hiking trails (or the Appalachian Trail 18 miles away, if you’re feeling adventurous), ski slopes at the nearby Massanutten Resort or tours of local farms, where you might recognize some ingredients from Joshua Wilton’s menu."
Flights & Bites at Brothers Craft Brewing April 2016 -
“Why wouldn’t you come to this?” one of my dining companions asked partially through our Flights and Bites meal at Brothers Craft Brewing on April 20th. It’s true. For $40 and two hours on a Wednesday night, we enjoyed six courses of beautifully crafted food carefully paired with beers from Brothers Craft Brewing. Chef Brian Bogan of the Joshua Wilton House and Chef Jakob Napotnik of the Local Chop and Grill House teamed up to create a menu that highlighted both local ingredients and local beer. Adam Shifflett, managing partner at Brothers and both chefs introduced each food and beer course while we lucky ones shared tables with strangers who quickly became friends.
An incredible event by three true craftsmen of food and beer. If you ever find the opportunity to attend a pairing dinner by any of the chefs or breweries who call Downtown Harrisonburg home, you must go."