Culinary trio to open Coriander Restaurant in Middlebury
MIDDLEBURY — To say that both Dave Laferriere-Hall and Dustin Simmons know their way around a kitchen would be an understatement.
Each has spent better than a decade toiling in restaurants throughout the state, ranging from pizza joints to fine dining establishments. Their paths crossed around two years ago at Fire & Ice Restaurant in Middlebury, where Laferriere-Hall works as a sous chef and Simmons as a line cook.
The two colleagues became fast friends, and will soon become business partners. Laferriere-Hall and Simmons last week were overseeing fit-up work to their new joint venture, a restaurant called “Coriander” that they target for a mid-June opening in the 1 Washington St. spot formerly occupied by Sweet Marie’s Restaurant. Before that it was the longtime home of Optics Ltd.
They plan to open Coriander seven days a week and offer lunch and dinner. Simmons and Laferriere-Hall said it would specialize in American fusion cuisine, borrowing from a variety of Asian, South American and other gastronomic cultures.
“I think it’s something that we’ve always wanted,” Laferriere-Hall said, as his significant other, Jennifer Sabourin, rocked their child back and forth. Sabourin, another Fire & Ice veteran, will serve as general manager of Coriander, with coordinating operations and spearheading publicity among her duties.
“With any person who enjoys cooking, especially for as long as we have, it’s always your hope and dream to open your own restaurant,” Simmons said.
Prior to joining Fire & Ice, Laferriere-Hall helped launch Tap’s Tavern in Poultney. Coriander will emulate Tap’s commitment to sourcing its food, to the greatest extent possible, from local and sustainable sources.
His résumé also includes stints at several Rutland eateries, including Dijon’s Deli & Bakery (run by his parents), Pasquale’s and Cara Mia’s. He also worked at the kitchen of the Lake House in Bomoseen.
Laferriere-Hall found a kindred culinary spirit in Simmons, who had lived a similar, nomadic experience in the Vermont and Addison County restaurant scene. Simmons helped launch the southwestern food operation at Middlebury’s Marquis Theater. He has also punched the clock at Mister Up’s, Snap’s in Bristol, Sama’s, the Grill at Middlebury College, the former Tully & Marie’s in Middlebury, and at Leunig’s in Burlington.
There’s no question the two chefs have a wealth of experience executing other people’s menus, often in a fast-paced environment to ensure timely customer turnover at restaurant tables. But Laferriere-Hall and Simmons see Coriander as their own blank canvas on which to paint an eclectic menu that they can regularly refresh, while giving extra time to detail on the dishes served up from their kitchen.
“Quality is definitely going to take a priority,” Laferriere-Hall said.
“I’d rather get good ingredients and keep the money local,” he added, speaking to what might be the more convenient and cheaper alternative of buying food in bulk from more distant and corporate sources.
Coriander will seat 24, and entrées are not expected to exceed the $30-range. They intend to offer a local delivery option for the lunch menu, which will include sandwiches, soups, salads, burgers and other light fare. Wine and beer will be available.
Plans call for a soft opening, by invitation, on June 16: Stay tuned for more information through social media.
Simmons and Laferriere-Hall believe they have the right business plan and Washington Street location to make Coriander a success.
“There is so much foot traffic here,” Simmons said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]
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