What makes an experience memorable? Sense of place and history are no doubt part of it. Who doesn’t remember their first trip to New York City, London, or Paris? For us, however, it’s ultimately the people behind an experience who make it truly unforgettable.
In a recent post we wrote about our mid-blizzard road trip this past winter to the historic Inns of Aurora, located in Aurora, a beautiful village in New York’s Finger Lakes region. There are thousands of small town inns across America, but this collection will have even the most discerning hospitality critic coming back for more. It sounds like a cliché right out of a brochure, but the people here really do make you feel like family (in the best sense of the word). The gorgeous and historic buildings that house the inns, their photo-spread worthy interior design, and the exquisite food and wine experiences they offer make you feel like you might as well be at a four-star European hotel.
So when we caught wind of the Inns of Aurora’s new private chef dining experience, called “Rupert’s Table,” we knew we couldn’t keep this Finger Lakes secret to ourselves. If food is your thing—farm-to-table ingredients, perfectly paired wine, connecting personally with your chef—this is your culinary Nirvana. Even better, the package includes overnight accommodations that won’t break the bank.
Rupert’s Table is the ultimate gastronomic experience, hosted by award-winning chef Rupert Robbins (executive chef of Skillet & Embers Catering Company, also located in Aurora), at the whimsical and opulent E. B. Morgan House. Upon arrival, guests are greeted with a cheese and wine reception on the estate’s lakeside mahogany porch, where decompression and relaxation are pre-requisites to prepare your palette for what’s to come. At 7:00 p.m. Rupert, who is both chef and innkeeper for the evening, rings the dinner bell and begins his three-course tableside parade. The meal is paired with personally selected wines that accentuate each course, and is served on locally-made MacKenzie-Childs dinnerware while the sunset ripples across Cayuga Lake. After dinner, it’s fire and lounge time in one of the many quiet outdoor areas throughout the E. B. Morgan House property.
When asked why these dinner events are so appealing to guests, Rupert sounds less like a gourmet chef and more like your dad at a backyard barbeque: “It’s really less an event and more like a family gathering. I’m cooking for these folks as if they were at home with me — and, in a way, they really are. The guests enjoy the personal feel of being hosted and served by their chef. I’ve given away a secret or two while we converse about the food, too!” Amen to that! Understanding the passion behind a chef’s creations is an opportunity few people will ever experience—one that gives personal context to what they are eating. Rupert continues, “Food is a very strong link to my past, conjuring wonderful memories that lie deep within all of us.”
Rupert’s first few private dining experiences have since passed, but there are two more events set for the upcoming weeks. The next dinner is June 15th, 2015 and is a Tex-Mex Fusion themed meal (you can read this delectable menu here). The following (and last dinner) experience is scheduled for June 29th, 2015 and is an Italian Feast (menu here). For all of Rupert’s Table guests, the following morning you’ll awake to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and a homemade breakfast created and served by Rupert himself.
Besides the personal attention, beautiful surroundings, and lavish accommodations, one of the best parts about this package is the price. $400 per couple gets you and your companion the wine and cheese reception hour, the three-course tableside meal (paired wine included), overnight accommodations in any of E. B. Morgan House’s luxurious guestrooms, and breakfast the following morning. Taxes and gratuities are also included.
But don’t forget that memorable experiences are ultimately all about the people. When asked what Rupert was looking forward to most about the next Rupert’s Table, he quipped, “The people, of course — greeting them, feeding them, and delighting them.”