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New York Goes to Maine for Spring Menus

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine ( MainStreet) -- New York is taking on Maine this spring during The White Barn Inn's sixth annual Guest Chef Series, in which Grand Chef Relais & Chateaux Jonathan Cartwright, of Kennebunkport, welcomes chefs from the hottest New York restaurants to join him in the kitchen at the White Barn Inn Restaurant, one of three restaurants that have maintained a AAA Five Diamond Rating for 20 or more consecutive years and the only AAA Five Diamond restaurant dining north of Boston.

During the series Cartwright will be collaborating to create delicious weekend getaways with Executive Chef Jeremy McMillan, from the Bedford Post Inn, a Relais & Chateaux property; Executive Chef Joey Campanaro from New York City's hip Little Owl; 2011 James Beard semifinalist Chef Jesse Schenker from Recette; and Executive Sous Chef Howard Kalachnikoff from the celebrated Gramercy Tavern, recipient of the Michelin award consecutively since 2005.

The New York chefs are in good company. Cartwright has been at the White Barn Inn Restaurant since 1994, beginning as sous chef and rising quickly to executive chef. In the spring of 1999, Cartwright was invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York City and, most recently, at Versailles Palace in France, an honor accorded only the greatest chefs.

"Each team learns so much from each other," Cartwright says. "The series also allows our guests to experience different styles of cuisine and a chance to interact one on one with the chefs."

To ensure a great weekend, The White Barn Inn offers a special package that allow guests to mingle with the chefs as well as learn through cooking demonstrations and hands-on cooking classes. The package includes two-night deluxe accommodations, a daily extended continental breakfast , sumptuous afternoon teas with finger sandwiches, pastries and scones, and there's a welcome cocktail reception with Cartwright and the weekend's guest chef. Saturday begins with a cooking demonstration in the morning at Keys To the Kitchens' private beach house and an optional hands-on class Saturday afternoon. The perfect end for the evening is a nine-course tasting menu dinner for two at The White Barn Inn Restaurant on Saturday evening. Guests get remembrances of the weekend -- a White Barn Inn Cookbook signed by Cartwright and a special White Barn Inn apron.

The fun kicked off last weekend with McMillan, who created a spring menu starting with cappellacci del brigante nero (with local clams, pork sausage and saffron); ramp vichyssoise; black bread crusted halibut (with artichokes, olives and blood orange); finishing off with a bomboloni (with Italian doughnuts, meyer lemon curd and anise sugar). He also created a tasting menu of bagna cauda (with shaved vegetables, roasted garlic puree and cured anchovies); fagotelli (with fontina fonduta, squash, chestnuts and chopped truffle); and suckling pig (with celeriac, crushed apple and vadouvan curry).

Next weekend is Campanaro, of Little Owl, who will create sardine filets (with cauliflower and snap pea salad with chili vinaigrette), gazpacho consomme with avocado mousse; pork chop (with parmesan butter beans and wild dandelion); blueberry cobbler (with mascarpone gelato); and another tasting menu with langoustine (with lemon, parsley and garlic); potato-wrapped scallop (with spinach and lobster beurre noisette); and lamb T-bone (with fontina potato fonduta). The next guest chef will be Schenker, April 20-22, and the final chef scheduled is Kalachnikoff, May 4-5.

Spurred by all these great spring-inspired menus, TravelsinTaste asked Cartwright to describe his own spring menu: "Our menu is an evolution into the season, and as spring ingredients start growing here in Maine the menu will get lighter, fresher and more local," he said.

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