Lonesome Valley

Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust Celebrates 100 Years of Saving Special Places

An exciting series of centennial events will take place in 2009 to pay homage to Highlands-Cashiers Land Trusts (HCLT) rich history and illuminate the community to its very bright future. HCLT is the oldest land trust in all of North Carolina and among the first 20 in the United States. Like most things, HCLT began very simply the concept of a handful of concerned citizens who didnt wish to see the face of a mountain transformed by another hilltop hotel. The group, created in 1883 under the name of The Highlands Improvement Society, set out to protect, preserve and promote the natural beauty of Highlands. They slowly realized their vision by building trails and planting trees, and in 1909 had raised $500 to purchase 56 acres at the summit of Satulah Mountain. From these humble beginnings, Highlands Improvement Society has grown into the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust, a 501(c)3 organization that currently protects 1,160 acres along the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau.

The June schedule of events includes a presentation from the 2009 Village Series titled 100 Years of Conservation at Jennings Barn at Lonesome Valley on June 24 at 6:30 p.m. Ran Shaffner, Dr. Gary Wein and Rosemary Stiefel will be on hand to discuss the past and the future of HCLT, and the new logo for the organization will be unveiled. Other centennial events in June include:

June 6 Celebrate Land Trust Day! Show your support for the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust by shopping and dining at some of your favorite local merchants. A portion of the proceeds benefits HCLT.

June 6 Highlands Improvement Society Social hosted by the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust Take a step back in time to learn what life was like on the Plateau in 1909 during this very special Centennial Event. Enjoy a picnic dinner, take part in a cakewalk, toss some horseshoes and dance to live music set against the backdrop of scenic Whiteside Cove Road. Terrific opportunity to learn more about the history of the land trust, its founding members and its first purchase of land the summit of Satulah Mountain. Period costumes are optional, but encouraged. Festivities begin at 6 p.m.

June 7 Where It All Began hosted by the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust Enjoy high tea on the summit of Satulah Mountain the site of the Highlands Improvement Societys first land purchase one hundred years ago. Afternoon includes a skit by Highlands Historical Society president, Elaine Whitehurst and the music of bag piper, David Landis. Period costumes and kilts are optional, but encouraged. Event begins at 4:00 p.m.

June 26-28 Walk in the Park with the Highlands Historical Society Features portrayals of past Highlands leaders, the formation of the Highlands Improvement Society and the founding of the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust. Tickets are $15 students admitted free. June 26 and 27 6-7:30 p.m. Highlands Memorial Cemetery (shuttle from Recreation Park); June 28 4 p.m. Performing Arts Center on Chestnut Street.

The Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust has always relied upon the generosity of its community to thrive. We hope you will consider showing your support by attending these events with your friends and family, or by donating your time, land or monetary gifts to this wonderful cause. Together, we can help preserve the natural beauty of our home on the Plateau!

For more information about HCLT and ways you can help, visit www.hicashlt.org or call 828.526.1111.

Lonesome Valley: Where Life is Simplified, and Living is Embraced


The rock face at Lonesome Valley

The rock face at Lonesome Valley

With a history dating back to 1895, Lonesome Valley has served as a bastion to the great outdoors ever since Pittsburg entrepreneur and visionary E.H. Jennings first acquired 35,000 acres near the sleepy village of Cashiers. While Mr. Jennings is responsible for developing one of Western North Carolinas most popular resort destinations, he chose to preserve Lonesome Valley as a special place to share with his friends and family. Gracefully spanning the valley floor of the largest box canyon east of the Rockies, Lonesome Valley is said by many to be the place where Heaven and Earth meet. For more than a century, the Jennings family has continued to take great care to maintain the history and natural beauty of this unique mountain treasure.


Carefully developed in accordance with the Jennings familys wishes, amenities and homes within this stunning community complement the natural beauty of the area. Lonesome Valley has quickly become one of Cashiers most sought after developments. Cottage and home designs pay homage to the Southern Appalachian farmhouses of a bygone era. Dining within the community highlights Southern cuisine made with fresh produce grown in the Valley. The Canyon Kitchen is currently open for the season on Thursdays through Sundays, and features the culinary talents of Chef John Fleer (formerly of the renowned Blackberry Farm in Tennessee). The Canyon Kitchen is located inside Jennings Barn at the heart of the Lonesome Valley community, and reservations are recommended.

Silver Creek Real Estate Group is proud to announce that we are now highlighting several incredible homes and amazing lots available for purchase in Lonesome Valley on our website. A handful of new-construction cabins, cottages and homes are available for immediate move-in, or select your own view from a series of incredible home sites currently being offered. For photo tours and more information on Lonesome Valley in Cashiers, North Carolina, click on the following two links: Lonesome Valley land or homes for sale. When youre ready to buy or build the home of your dreams, contact one of the talented brokers at Silver Creek by calling us at (828) 742-1999, dropping by our offices located just west of the Cashiers Crossroads in The Shoppes at CreekSide, or by filling out our online contact form . We look forward to meeting you and introducing you to one of Cashiers most visually stunning communities.

The Legacy of Lonesome Valley located between Cashiers and Sapphire, NC

Lonesome Valley Developers Partner with Cashiers Silver Creek Real Estate Group

Just below a swath of blue skies and billowy white clouds lies a very special valley in Western North Carolina a spot many claim to be the place where Heaven and Earth meet. E.H. Jennings first discovered it in the late 1800s. The Pittsburgh entrepreneur was so awed by the beauty of the region that he purchased 30,000 acres to develop unique vacation destinations for families, with 800 acres reserved for use solely by his own family and friends. This land became known as Lonesome Valley and has been enjoyed by descendants of Mr. Jennings for over a century. Gracefully spanning the valley floor of the largest box canyon east of the Rockies, Lonesome Valley has long drawn the attention of visitors, with its striking walls of granite, rolling green pastures, lush forest and bountiful gardens. Wishing to maintain their great-grandfathers original vision, a new generation of Jennings has taken special care to develop the land themselves with conservation as a major focus.

Cow Rock at Lonesome ValleyWith Mother Nature as the starring attraction, the canyon serves as a backdrop for a truly unique family-centric community, where all homes and amenities are designed to be in harmony with the scenery that envelopes them. Lonesome Valleys Long Lake offers five acres of pristine waters, occasionally stirred by a passing canoe, kayak, swimmer or skipping stone. The Lakeside Pavilion serves as the social center of the community with a grill and fitness center. Fully stocked with Rainbow Trout, the Trout Pond is the ideal escape for the fly fisherman; for avid kite fliers, the Great Meadow offers lots of room to enjoy a picnic lunch among the wildflowers as your kite takes flight. There are 12 miles of scenic community hiking trails, rock climbing up the 1,000-foot face of Cow Rock and so much more. Perhaps creating the most buzz in the three years since Lonesome Valley's inception is the wildly popular, seasonal Canyon Kitchen, featuring the remarkable culinary talents of Chef John Fleer. A meal at Chef Fleers table is so much more than a fine dinner out its a full sensory experience you wont soon forget.

Silver Creek Real Estate Group is pleased to announce a very special collaboration with Lonesome Valley. As a Cashiers resident and business owner, I have always admired the beauty, elegance and back-to-basics simplicity of the Lonesome Valley community, says Silver Creek owner, Jochen Lucke. My brokers and I are delighted to be affiliated with a distinctive mountain treasure of this caliber, and we look forward to introducing new families from all over the Southeast to this extraordinary slice of Heaven. Thanks to this relationship, Silver Creek is in a position to offer special pricing to their clients on a select few Lonesome Valley home sites through the remainder of 2010. Silver Creek encourages you to schedule a personalized tour of Lonesome Valley homes, home sites and amenities by calling their experienced team of brokers at <a href="tel:+18287431999">828-743-1999</a>, or e-mailing your request to info@ncliving.com.

Cashiers Dining: Chef John Fleer and Lonesome Valleys Canyon Kitchen

Ambience and Incomparable Cuisine are Always on the Menu at Cashiers Canyon Kitchen

Designed to be far more than just another meal out, guests of Lonesome Valleys Canyon Kitchen can expect to be treated to nothing short of a dining experience. By thoughtfully combining his garden-to-table inspired fare with the natural beauty of the largest box canyon east of the Rockies, John Fleer is as much a master showman as he is master chef. Housed within the charmingly handsome Jennings Barn overlooking the community garden at the epicenter of the Lonesome Valley community, the doors of the Canyon Kitchen are often open to let the crisp mountain breezes in as guests delight in the aromas and flavors of freshly prepared dishes, many of which contain ingredients gathered from the garden that very morning. This one-of-a-kind dining establishment is the ideal fit for the unique community that surrounds it a celebration of time-honored tradition, family and nature. The Kitchen truly is the heart of this home.

Cashiers Canyon KitchenAfter gaining a following and glowing reputation as the celebrated chef of Tennessees Blackberry Farm for fourteen years, the talented Chef John Fleer has created something very special in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. With his belief in the Irish proverb the laughter is brightest where the food is best, he never disappoints guests of the Canyon Kitchen as he blends good old fashioned Southern hospitality and traditional Southern food with a creative culinary twist. The laughter and conversation flow as easily as the wine at this distinctive Cashiers eatery. Menus rotate regularly, based on both the availability of seasonal products and the occasional whim of the chef. One day the menu might feature distinctively different dishes like Roulade of Rib Eye with Mushroom Ketchup accompanied by Lyonnaise Potatoes and Tuscan Kale Braised with Local Mushrooms, or Quinoa Crusted Sunburst Trout accompanied by Fabinas Verdes and Gremolata Shoestring Potatoes with Green Tomato Ketchup. Only to be followed the next day by a more conventional South of the Mason-Dixon Line dish of Ashley Farms Chicken and Waffles with Maple-Sorghum Syrup polished off with a Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Cake topped with Local Berries. Are your taste buds tingling? If so, you wont want to wait much longer. Canyon Kitchen is only open Thursday through Sunday seasonally, and with mere weeks left before the seasons end the reservation books are filling up quickly! To bookyou reservation at one of the most distinctive restaurants on the mountain, call 828.743.7967 or e-mail your request to canyonkitchen@lonesomevalley.com. To learn more about homes and land available for purchase in Lonesome Valley, contact Silver Creek Real Estate Group by calling 828-743-1999, e-mailing us at info@ncliving.com or filling out our convenient online contact form.

Lonesome Valley Preserving So Much More Than a Family Legacy

In the late 1800s, an entrepreneur from Pennsylvania first gazed out over the largest box canyon this side of the Rocky Mountains. He was so inspired by the beauty of Western North Carolina that he elected to purchase more than 30,000 acres to carefully develop and preserve for others to enjoy. E.H. Jennings is perhaps best remembered for his creation of lovely Lake Toxaway at the heart of the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau a destination enjoyed by local residents and families from all over the Southeast to this day. To his descendents, more than a century after he first stepped foot in these mountains E.H. Jennings legacy lives on in peaceful Lonesome Valley near the historic village of Cashiers.

Lonesome Valley North CarolinaIn the midst of development, Jennings set aside 800 breathtaking acres of his land purchase to be enjoyed solely by his family and friends. He selected a quiet valley, with soaring mountains to the North and East, and a tranquil lake to the West. In the years since, his children and grandchildren enjoyed exploring the forests, fishing in the streams, and running through the meadows. So strong is the draw of the land in this family that Jennings grandson, Richard II, returned after graduating from Yale University with a degree in engineering to launch Cashiers Valley Trout Farm a tradition his daughter Sally still carries on today at Sunburst Trout Farm in Waynesville. Life in Lonesome Valley has always been simple, with nature forever playing a central theme. Wishing to share the beauty of this valley with others while remaining true to their stewardship of the land, E.H. Jennings great grandchildren have painstakingly developed this exquisite valley into a unique and visually stunning family-centered community.

Home sites in Lonesome Valley offer awe-inspiring views of rolling hills, towering trees, green meadows, serene creek beds, the still waters of Trout Pond, the rocky faces of the mountains, and/or the glasslike surface of Long Lake. Lots are sized anywhere from 1 acre to accommodate a quaint Southern Appalachian farmhouse-inspired cottage to 8 acres for a palatial Arts & Crafts-inspired estate. All amenities serve as a celebration of the natural splendor. Lonesome Valleys Long Lake offers 5 pristine surface acres for the exploring the glass-like waters stirred by the occasional passing canoe, kayak, swimmer or skipping stone. The Lakeside Pavilion serves as the social center of the community with a grill and fitness center. The Trout Pond is the ideal escape for the fly fisherman fully stocked with Rainbow Trout, and for avid kite fliers the Great Meadow offers lots of room to enjoy a picnic lunch under blue skies as your kite takes flight. There are 12 miles of scenic community hiking trails, rock climbing up the 1000-foot rock face of Laurel Knob and so much more. Even dining within Lonesome Valley finds Mother Nature as the starring attraction. The Canyon Kitchen open seasonally showcases Southern fare made from made with fresh produce grown in the Valley. The massive doors to The Jennings Barn which houses The Canyon Kitchen are often left open to let fresh mountain breezes in as the guests delight in the spectacular vistas that are synonymous with Lonesome Valley.

The combination of special conservation areas, dedicated common spaces, responsible deed restrictions, and thoughtful architectural guidelines serve to ensure that the Jennings legacy will be protected for future generations. The Jennings Family invites you to come and experience Lonesome Valley for yourself. To schedule a tour of available homes, properties and the surrounding community contact the dedicated team of brokers at Silver Creek Real Estate Group. Call us at 828.743.1999, e-mail your request to info@ncliving.com, or fill out our convenient online contact form. To learn more about Silver Creek and view available Lonesome Valley listings online, visit our website at www.ncliving.com. We also welcome you to drop by our offices, located at the heart of Cashiers in the Shoppes at CreekSide.

Lonesome Valleys Chef John Fleer Receives Nomination

Popular Sapphire Valley Chef Nominated for Prestigious National Culinary Award Chef John Fleer of Lonesome Valleys Canyon Kitchen Receives Nod from James Beard Foundation

After just two outstanding seasons at Lonesome Valleys Canyon Kitchen in Western North Carolina, locally celebrated chef, John Fleer has garnered the attention of the nomination committee of the highly revered James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards. The committee placed Fleer in the running for their esteemed Best Chef: Southeast award against such well-regarded Southern chefs as Hugh Acheson of the Athens, GA restaurant Five and Ten; Craig Deihl of the Charleston, SC restaurant Cypress; Linton Hopkins of Atlanta, GAs Restaurant Eugene; Edward Lee of Louisville, KY restaurant 610 Magnolia; and Andrea Reusing of Chapel Hill, NC restaurant Lantern. Considered by many to be the Oscars of the food world, the winners of this years James Beard Awards will be announced on May 6. Regardless of the outcome, the nomination itself is quite an honor.

Lonesome Valleys Canyon KitchenArmed with an impressive resume that includes his role as a private chef for beloved celebrity icon, Mary Tyler Moore and a 15-year stint as the executive chef at the famed Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN Chef Fleer has created quite a buzz in a relatively short amount of time on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau. It was likely Fleers unique culinary style combined with his use of farm fresh ingredients and the sublime atmosphere of his restaurant, Canyon Kitchen that drew the interest of the James Beard Foundation nomination committee. Nestled at the heart of the lovely Lonesome Valley master-planned development in the Sapphire Valley region of Western North Carolina in an expansive box canyon shadowed by the Blue Ridge Mountains, Canyon Kitchen offers its patrons stunning views and an experience that is so much more than just a meal, its a gastronomic event. Open seasonally to Lonesome Valley members and the public by reservation only, Canyon Kitchens 2011 season will kick off on Memorial Day weekend and run through Labor Day weekend.

Silver Creek Real Estate Group would like to extend our heartiest congratulations to Chef Fleer for his nomination, and we wish him the best of luck leading up to the announcement of the winner the first week in May. We are so looking forward to the start of the season at Canyon Kitchen, and highly recommend our readers add a memorable visit to the Kitchen to their itinerary during a spring or summer stay on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau. If youd like to learn more about Canyon Kitchen, we invite you to read our August 2010 blog Ambience and Incomparable Cuisine are Always on the Menu at Cashiers Canyon Kitchen. To make a reservation, call 828.743.7967 or e-mail your request to canyonkitchen@lonesomevalley.com.

Luxury Living on Trout Pond in Lonesome Valley


No detail was spared in creating this like-new home in the coveted Lonesome Valley community. Situated in a serene setting that overlooks Trout Pond, the property is bordered by creeks on three sides. Nearly flat, the almost two-and-a-half acres are walkable and beckon you to explore every inch.

Every room of the home is on one level with a guest apartment over the two-car garage. The light, bright, and open floor plan features a gourmet kitchen that is open to both the living and dining areas with stunning views in both directions. Outside, you'll enjoy sitting on the covered screen porch with wood burning fireplace overlooking Trout Pond. You can cast your line only a few steps away from the porch.

This home could be enjoyed seasonally or year-round as the current owners do. The property is the perfect combination of beautiful, tranquil solitude with a convenient location only three miles from the center of Cashiers. Lonesome Valley is the largest boxed-faced canyon east of the Mississippi, comprised of 750 acres—300 of which are common green space. The amenity package includes extensive hiking trails, fly fishing in the streams and ponds, lake activities, a fitness facility, an outdoor heated pool, tennis courts, rock climbing, fine dining, and a day spa. This is a home and location for the discerning buyer.

A New Chapter for the Library

Sapphire Valleys Library Kitchen & BarJohannes Klapdohr exudes enthusiasm about his work, and luckily for us, the fruits of that work are accessible. The chef and co-founder of Sapphire Valley’s Library Kitchen & Bar, Klapdohr has hit his stride in the creative reinvention of the local landmark.
The “new” Library opened over the New Year’s holiday in 2016-2017, and in the past year has become the epitomic place for fine dining, brilliantly positioned against the historical backdrop of the 1864 farmhouse that it once was.
On any given night one can see a comfortable blend of regulars and out-of-towners enjoying food and drink at the sleek kitchen bar, a small room with a fireplace, or the happening main dining room. “I like to think it has a ‘clubby’ feel,” he explains, and he’s right. There is a familiarity about the place, but don’t be fooled. This new Library is sophisticated, state-of-the-art, and delicious.
The menu, which changes seasonally to augment the use of fresh local ingredients, ranges from trout with Jerusalem artichokes to seafood risotto and chocolate bread pudding.
Johannes, as most everyone calls him, grew up in a family that respected the process of food preparation.  He is the third generation of family chefs and has warm childhood memories of his grandfather’s hotel restaurant in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, a quaint area founded by the Romans. Everything was made from scratch, he recalls, and everything was fresh.
His culinary ambition fueled fourteen years of study and work under various European chefs at several Michelin-starred restaurants.  It was while he was serving as the executive chef in a Berlin restaurant that his sister, who was in Atlanta, suggested he take a temporary assignment working at the Olympic Games, to be held in Atlanta in 1996. In preparation for the Games, the city was actively looking for international chefs.
What was to have been a brief stint in the United States proved eye-opening and challenging and, at the end of the job, he knew he was hooked.  His post as executive chef at the famed Nikolai’s Roof introduced him to the vibrant chef community in Atlanta and provided the contacts that propelled his life of gastronomic adventure.  It was in Atlanta that he met his eventual wife Liz, well known to the Library clientele for her uncanny ability to make first-time guests feel as if they are coming to her home for dinner.
Next stop after Atlanta was Sea Island, Georgia, where for three years Johannes served as executive chef at The Lodge. It was an exciting time to be there, as considerable development and re-building were underway, but the passion to cull the source of gourmet food proved strong.  And so, he accepted the position of executive chef of the famed Culinary Vegetable Institute in Milan.  Milan, Ohio that is.
The Culinary Vegetable Institute celebrates the collaboration of chefs and farmers working together. Located at the tip of Lake Erie, it is renowned for having the most fertile soil in the United States and is a leading supplier of sustainable foods. It was here that he saw first-hand, for example, the importance of soil regeneration for the maximum nutritional value of crops.
“You can’t cheat nature,” he explains, detailing how the proper rotation of crops yields the best output.  
Beans, for example, release nitrogen while tomatoes need nitrogen.  Thus, it makes perfect sense that tomatoes would be planted in soil that most recently grew beans.  He rues the fact that peaches are slowly losing their nutritional value because of improper soil regeneration, and that is merely one example.
The stint at the Culinary Vegetable Institute has informed his attitude about food ever since.  Johannes bemoans the common health problems that are increasingly being experienced by younger people and blames a chemically-enhanced, unnatural diet.  He cites the well-known book by Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food, and would wholeheartedly embrace its doctrine of “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”
The father of three children, ages 8, 7 and 2, Johannes makes it a practice to take them on walks to discover the smell and feel of “real” food and advocates water and milk over soda. Not surprisingly, the big planters located in the Library’s front yard are actually fresh herb gardens and the iconic red tractor on the lawn gives a nod to his guiding philosophy.
After Milan, Ohio came The Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, where opportunities abounded to put into play the healthy yet delicious principles that were celebrated at the Culinary Vegetable Institute.  As executive chef of the entire resort, Johannes had responsibility for all food services which, in addition to the hotel’s famed restaurants, included infinite special events and all activities at The Farm. The farm-to-table movement was in high gear and there seemed no better place to run with it.
But a chance encounter with Marvin Gralnick at the Lonesome Valley Food Show in 2014 set the stage for a brand-new venture.  
Gralnick and his wife Helene may be best known for the successful retail emporium Chico’s.  Beginning in the 1980’s with one small store on Sanibel Island that sold Mexican folk art and sweaters, by the time they retired in 2006, the chain boasted over nine hundred stores, including the Black Market/White House brand.
But Marvin’s true passion is art, and his visionary works that call to mind Pollock and Miro have found their way to extensive public and private exhibitions here and abroad. At the time of this chance meeting, Gralnick owned the building that had been The Library and was contemplating its future.  
As the two men talked over a period of months they discovered a common wavelength for excellence and creativity and a dream of a cutting-edge restaurant, highlighting Johannes’ food and Marvin’s art. The Library began to take shape.
The building itself was basically a shell, and the two strategized to somehow create a contemporary environment that would also honor its considerable history.  Thus, the name “The Library” was set in stone.
“Our guests chose the name,” he says, recalling that the name was originally selected by the previous owner Scott Rooth, who wanted the restaurant to be reminiscent of a popular bar of the same name that had been in the old Fairfield Inn during Prohibition days.
While the core farmhouse, said to be the oldest building in Sapphire Valley, remains nearly intact, much of the property has undergone extensive renovation. For Johannes’ part, he wanted a “transparent” kitchen, so the design is purposefully open, and guests may even sit at a heavy wood bar and watch their food being prepared.  A prominent chandelier in the center of the kitchen/bar room looks as if it could have hung in the original house, but was rescued from a Chico’s store in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Other lamps were culled from Marvin’s considerable collections. Tables were handcrafted to complement the original Library chairs which are currently used, and copper accents were utilized extensively at the bar for a funky “industrial” look.  The interior is painted a clean white, providing the perfect backdrop for Marvin’s bold and often edgy art.
A rendition of the flag with the words “America, A Work in Progress” hangs high above the kitchen and bar room and another work proclaiming “LOVE” in lights sparkles in the main dining rooms.
For his part, Johannes creates his art in the kitchen where a staff of eight wrks its magic five nights a week, year round.  The menu changes frequently, to reflect the best of what’s fresh. Temperatures are dropping as this is written, and the Library’s menu offers savory stews and cassoulets and side dishes celebrating brussel sprouts, acorn and butternut squash, pears and apples.
If the always crowded parking area is any indication, the two artists have delivered on their collaboration and are providing what Johannes calls “making the exception the rule.”
At the end of an evening at The Library, guests are presented their checks inside an antique bound journal.  Almost all are compelled to write a brief message, a fitting preamble to the next wonderful chapter at the Library.
“Your food is amazing.  I like it, and I am only a kid,” writes one recent patron, while another calls the dining experience “a slice of gastronomic heaven.”
 Like the proper rotation of crops, everything old is new again, and, in the case of the Library Kitchen & Bar, better than ever.

Heart & Soul: Meet Canyon Kitchen's New Executive Chef

Chef Ken Naron

Chef Ken Naron is no stranger to the kitchen, particularly Lonesome Valley's Canyon Kitchen, located in Sapphire Valley. Having served as Sous Chef, or second in command, for the last two years under Chef Adam Hayes, Chef Ken’s new role as Chef de Cuisine or Executive Chef will breathe fresh life into the traditions emanating from this highly respected farm-to-table restaurant. Patiently working his way up the ranks during nearly twenty years of culinary experience, he has achieved an impressive resumé. And while he looks great on paper through his culinary accomplishments, it is his Louisiana heritage along with his magnetic personality that will bring a fresh heart and soul to Canyon Kitchen’s seasonal debut.
As a kid, if he wasn’t on his skateboard, he was getting the cultural education of living off the land in the bayou. He was unaware at the time that this down-home training would shape him for his culinary path and current role. “Although my passion for cooking was realized later, I was always involved with the gathering process and gained an intense appreciation for the land.” Steeped within his memory are happy times spent hunting, trapping, and fishing with his grandfather. Harvesting from the family garden, they ate seasonally in the days when the term “farm-to-table” was not yet a culinary trend. They ate whatever they caught or grew. It was Ken’s Creole-Irish grandmother who would spend hours creating spontaneous yet traditional dishes from their bounty. He recalls carefully watching her preparations and waiting patiently for her mouthwatering plates to land on the family table. He was always impressed with her ability to pay homage to the land and craft food that radiated passion.
When Ken’s teenage aspirations to be a professional skateboarder fizzled, he soon found his next step as a dishwasher to earn money to buy his first car. What he quickly discovered was a fascination for the restaurant life, particularly in the kitchen. The energy, the creativity, the camaraderie, and enthusiasm drew him in, and he soon found himself working under such notable chefs as Tom Wolfe and James Beard award-winning Chef Gary Danko. As a mentor, Gary Danko wielded a great influence on Ken’s career while he worked at Danko’s Relais & Chateaux restaurant in San Francisco. Ken was encouraged by Danko to pay attention to the finer details. Aside from learning how to best manage a kitchen team, he was taught culinary and kitchen secrets that became a turning point in his path and gave him the tools to become a truly great head chef.
Now taking the helm at Canyon Kitchen, Chef Ken and his team introduced an expanded tasting menu, offering more choices of Canyon Kitchen’s signature menu items and incorporating new twists to past presentations. Gracing the menu is gastronomy influenced by Ken’s Creole roots, as well as Mexican and Asian infusions. Thoughtful and inventive, Ken draws inspiration from around the world and the local land. His vision is clear on striking a balance in his culinary creations by marrying flavorful spices with seasonal ingredients. Canyon Kitchen’s practice of using local ingredients from sustainable suppliers along with fruits and vegetables harvested from their own garden will continue to serve as the basis for Chef Ken’s prix fix menu. New features include pasture-raised Lady Edison pork and farm-raised bison from Carolina Bison. You might find these dishes imbued with essences of fresh chamomile and coriander that are new to the garden this season, while heirloom squash, Seminole pumpkin seeds, arugula, and cauliflower with touches of radish and nasturtium brighten the plates. 
Above and beyond everything else, Chef Ken is all about making his guests happy. “It’s important that the food is flavorful and balanced with every bite,” says Ken. “Our guests can expect an elevated dining experience.” Creative gastronomy guided by Ken’s heart and soul will be the driving force behind his authentic cuisine. If you haven’t managed to visit Canyon Kitchen this season, make sure to make your reservation soon! Not only will you enjoy your experience, you will love getting to know Ken as he meets and greets.  

About Canyon Kitchen

Located in the scenic Lonesome Valley community in Cashiers, North Carolina, Canyon Kitchen is a seasonal restaurant featuring exquisite dishes in a relaxed setting. The nightly prix fixed menus utilize fresh, seasonal ingredients from the restaurant’s own garden and other local food sources, including Sunburst Trout Farms, Brasstown Beef, and Looking Glass Creamery, to name a few. At Canyon Kitchen, guests enjoy the local flavors of North Carolina while looking upon the thousand-foot granite cliffs and lush forests. Situated in a craftsman-style barn, Canyon Kitchen’s interiors include traditional post-and-beam architecture, stacked stone fireplaces and sliding barn doors throughout allowing guests to take advantage of the crisp mountain air. For more information, visit www.lonesomevalley.com.

Chef Ken Naron's Spicy Bread and Butter Pickled Tomatillos

Chopping Fresh Onions

9 each small to medium sized tomatillos, quartered
2 small yellow onions thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
½ cup water
¾ tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. cayenne 
¾ tsp. turmeric
¾ tsp. cornstarch
½ tsp. celery seeds
½ tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. kosher salt 

Combine all spices and liquids in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add onions and tomatillos and cook 8-10 minutes more. Ladle into sterilized jelly or mason jars, twist on lid to finger tightness, turn upside down on thick kitchen towel and let sit overnight to seal or process in water bath until sealed. Enjoy as an accompaniment with your favorite sandwich or taco.