Chef Charles van Over is a recognized baking expert and James Beard award winning author
My passion for cooking led to Restaurant du Village, which I opened in 1979 with Priscilla Martel in Chester, Connecticut. As chef owners, we sought to recreate the flavor and feel of a family-owned restaurant in rural France. Farmers in this scenic patch of the Connecticut River Valley raised produce and game for us. We purchased locally-caught fish and locally-grown flowers. We made our own country terrines, potato galettes, fruit tarts—and I baked bread.
The bread became the essence of the restaurant. In the 1980’s, Jane and Michael Stern wrote, “Now comes the best bread in Connecticut…hard crusted, fluffy, with a yeasty aroma that seems to envelop the table with its warmth.” Such was its popularity that we opened a wholesale bread bakery. We wrote a book about baking the bread. I designed my own travelling bread knife and obtained a patent on my mixing technology.
My love of cooking is matched by my love of the outdoors – upland game hunting, foraging wild mushrooms, outdoor cooking with wood. We have great times cooking with chef friends and playing boules each summer.
In a parallel life I’ve consulted with W.R. Grace, McDonald’s and other food manufacturers on sous vide cooking, on menu development and employee training. I was an essential player in formulating the concept for The Market at Citicorp Center in Manhattan. During twelve years with Halcyon, a retail-consulting firm, I worked on projects combining real estate development with food marketing concepts, projects such as The Village at Stratton Mountain, Vermont and RJR Nabisco’s “Fresh Place”, a chain of super stores specializing in fresh, regionally grown foods. I have even travelled for the Beef Industry Council, teaching grilling and barbecuing. And my work with Cuisinart resulted in the Power Prep Plus food processor, introduced to celebrate the company’s twenty-fifth anniversary.
-Charlie van Over