Meet the Chef: Corwin Kave of Deer Mountain Inn
Meet Executive Chef Corwin Kave, the culinary genius behind the immensely popular restaurant and bar at Deer Mountain Inn, located in Tannersville, New York. Having served as the Director of Culinary Operations at Uchu Hospitality group in NYC/UK, and as Executive Chef at Fatty Crab (Loved that place!), Don Wagyu and Ludlow House, today Chef Kave brings his distinctive talent to the Catskills with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients.
The restaurant at the Deer Mountain Inn feels like a community living room – a place for locals, weekenders, and visitors to meet, greet, and eat. If you haven’t yet experienced this exceptional restaurant we hope this post encourages you to do so. Stop by for a small plate and drink on the mountain-view patio, a leisurely three-course meal near the cozy fireplace, or dessert and a digestif at the full-service bar. Plus, you will love the chill vibe, rustic charm and coziness of Deer Mountain Inn.
Inside+Out Upstate NY: Tell us about yourself: Where were you born; how did you wind up in the Hudson Valley?
Chef Corwin Kave: I was born in NYC and raised on Long Island. I left Long Island in 1999 to attend culinary school at NECI in Essex, VT. I have always wanted to live in the mountains and I was given the opportunity this past summer to move to Tannersville to run the kitchen at the Deer Mountain Inn.
What inspired you to become a chef? What was your journey?
My mother has always been a fantastic cook and traveling was a big part of my family upbringing. One trip to Champagne was especially memorable as it was my first time experiencing “fine dining”. The tables were spaced far apart and the service was coordinated. I remember an asparagus custard that changed my perception of what vegetable cookery could be. My culinary education began in high school with summer classes with Peter Kump’s morning class at BOCES and an after-school job as a busboy and prep cook at a local Italian restaurant.
What is the draw of your restaurant; what do you do to keep things “fresh?”
While our kitchen, pantry, and cuisine are still in their infancy, I am striving to source many of our products within 60 minutes of the Inn. I know that the majority of our clientele are travelers and they wish to experience the bounty of the Catskill Mountains and the greater Hudson Valley. We keep a seasonal core menu and run daily specials to keep in lockstep with our purveyors’ constantly changing harvests.
Who or what inspires your menu; how often do you change it?
We change as often as we like. We’ve been in a pretty good groove since the new year adapting ideas to fit the season and anticipating changes for the upcoming season. I have worked hard to diversify our sourcing and am proudly sourcing products from over 20 small producers in the Catskills and Hudson Valley. The ever-changing product lists help inform our weekly menu adjustments and we have endless dreams to bring it to fruition.
What’s one question you’re constantly asked; what’s the biggest misconception about your business?
Everyone wants to know what is my favorite thing to cook. That is a major misconception about cooking at a professional level. I may have a favorite dish to cook at the moment (currently it’s our preparation of Hudson Valley Steelhead Trout with a Hudson Valley sunflower curry sauce) but we are always moving forward. We are in the process of building a pantry of spices, preserves, and sauces that will carry us for months and help inform the food we cook later this year. I’m planning the garden growing season and making connections for products that I know I will love but I have no idea what I’ll use them for. We are always working towards an unknown idea that will materialize at a later date.
The restaurant industry has seen much change and disruption with Covid. How are you adapting; is there a silver lining here?
After being laid off in early 2020, I was fortunate enough to work from home throughout most of the 2020 & 2021 pandemic but there are continuous struggles within the industry. The allure of kitchen work and a career as a chef has fizzled in the face of brutal schedules and low pay. I believe rightfully so. Kitchen work is difficult and all its roles deserve respect and fair pay.
How do you inspire your staff? What is your company’s “culture?”
We have a very small staff in the kitchen so it’s easy for us to collaborate and keep everyone interested and engaged. We are constantly, openly speaking about new dishes, ideas and sourcing. Our beverage director Greg Windrem does an excellent job with staff training and education as well.
What do you love most about living + working in the Hudson Valley?
I am an emphatic skier so living in a ski town is a dream come true. My family and I are also avid hikers and love finding the local swimming holes.
What impact does your business have on your community?
I am fortunate to work in Tannersville in lockstep with the Hunter Foundation where we will continue to bring opportunities and new investments to the local community.
What local businesses do you rely on to be successful?
Restaurants “Prospect” and “Fellow Cafe” help keep me and my family well-fed. Mama’s Burgers too but we’re mostly there for the outstanding frozen custard. I rely heavily on Farms 2 Tables, Hudson Harvest, Hudson Valley Steelhead, Snowdance Farms and Highland Hollow for our sourcing needs at Deer Mountain Inn.
What’s missing in your village that you wish we had?
Record shop, Coffee Shop, Wine Bar, Vegetables.
What is your favorite thing to cook when you’re home alone or with your family?
I love to grill a chicken. Snowdance Farms in particular.
Tell us something about yourself people might be surprised to learn?
I used to be a fashion model. And I hate egg salad.
Name three things you always have in your fridge/pantry.
Fish Sauce, Kewpie, Cured Chilies.
What was the best dish or meal you’ve ever had and who made it?
I remember loving lunch at Destroyer, LA. Lively flavors, creepy presentations and vegetable-forward.
What is one of your favorite dishes and could you share the recipe?
I really love the fish crudo we’ve been running recently. It’s more of an idea than a recipe so it’s easy to share. We’re serving raw, sliced Maine diver scallops seasoned with spruce salt from Syracuse Salt Co, dressed with fresh bay leaf oil, and covered with sliced kumquats. All the products are phenomenal and that’s what makes the difference!
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DEER MOUNTAIN INN BAR & RESTAURANT
Executive Chef Corwin Kave
790 Co Rd 25, Tannersville, NY
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Read all of Inside+Out’s MEET THE CHEF SERIES
Chef Jesse Frederick | Butterfield Restaurant at Hasbrouck House | Stone Ridge NY
Chef Corwin Kave | Deer Mountain Inn | Tannerville NY
Chef Isaias Lira | Lis Bar | Kingston NY
Chef Alex Napolitano | Prospect at Scribners | Hunter NY
Chef Clare Hussain | Runa | New Paltz NY