VFTCB Chef Spotlight: Montgomery County Chefs Offering Creative Meals and Fabulous Customer Service

Valley Forge Crave Montco Chefs spotlight by tarlecki wedding cake
Images via featured chefs.

With the state lifting restrictions and restaurants allowing 100% capacity, no one is happier to welcome patrons back in than several chefs in Montgomery County.

Annamarie in front of her Royersford diner, image via Facebook.

Despite the pandemic this past year, Annamarie’s of Royersford kept rolling out its staple of breakfast, with the addition of a strong dinner menu and breakfast specials like Bananas Foster French Toast, Oreo Pancake Stacker, and Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake Pancakes.

Breakfast Chef Spotlight: Annamarie Hewitt Chestnut

Annamarie is the owner and chef at Annamarie’s Place in Royersford. She’s been cooking in restaurants since she was 15, and with her place in “Rofo,” which she has owned for 26 years, it’s all about the breakfast, as the tagline is “If it ain’t breakfast, it ain’t Annamarie’s.”

Annamarie loves cooking breakfast because it is full of fun foods. “There’s no end to the possibilities. I love making people happy with all food, but the light in a kid’s eyes after seeing his first Buttercream and Sprinkle Birthday Cake pancake stacker is always the most fun,” the Royersford native explains. “We try to be creative in all of the menus, but with breakfast it’s easier. People love new combinations and seem to be more adventurous with breakfast.”

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Annamarie opened the café with her parents help in 1994 when she came home on winter break from her culinary schooling, and it was meant to be.

A brilliant breakfast (and lunch and dinner!) spot was born.

“My coworkers and my customers are family,” she says. “We have literally grown up together. It’s so easy to make someone happy with some yum, I’m a people pleaser and I love feeding people! Nothing matters more than making the people who come in happy. We have become their go-to place for family traditions, celebrations, and milestones. Having that kind of support and love is all any business owner could ever want.”

Annamarie’s is located at 347 Main Street in Royersford, PA. Be sure to tell your server if it’s your first time here!

Latin American Cuisine Chef Spotlight: Fernando Estrada

Chef Fernando at The Alloy King of Prussia, Doubletree Hotel by Hilton in King of Prussia.

Fernando Estrada is a dynamic professional chef with diverse culinary background and experience in a prestigious, high-volume cooking environment.

Chef Fernando’s kitchen is at The Alloy King of Prussia, Doubletree Hotel by Hilton in King of Prussia.

He possesses great knowledge, confidence, passion and interest in various world cuisines – Asian, Mexican, American, French, Italian, Indian to name a few.

His roasting, braising, sautéing skills, and molecular gastronomy techniques push the taste buds to experience new flavors and reach higher culinary limits.

“Every plate is a blank canvas,” says Fernando. He finds his passion and inspiration from everyday interaction with people and ingredients around the world. He creates all his dishes as not just simple food but a creation of modern art.

Chef Fernando working with nitrogen.

Chef Fernando was born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico. While growing up in Mexico he lived with his single mom Guadalupe, and he learned early in his life to cook and appreciate the flavors of different cuisines.

Fernando attended college to obtain a graphic design degree because of his passion for art, and when he moved to Raleigh, North Carolina he became more involved in food and culinary/hospitality classes at Wake Tech College.

Fernando worked in various food and beverage positions Raleigh, such as Sheraton Imperial, country clubs and fine dining facilities.

“I enjoy making every plate a delight for customers. I appreciate the quality and taste of food, specializing in ethnic dishes and large events. We’ve done a special presentation of deserts called Chefs Table for our corporate executives and Valentines’ Day specials in Raleigh where we would create deserts in front of customers, a really unique special experience I truly enjoyed,” he explains.

With my background growing up in Mexico, I get excited about our traditional street foods like tacos, classic goat barbacoa and its respective condiments and sauces, special dishes with mole sauces for celebrations.

The Alloy King of Prussia, Doubletree Hotel by Hilton is located at 301 W. DeKalb Pike in King of Prussia.

Dessert Chef Spotlight: Mackenzie T Parker

normandy farm baker
Mackenzie T Parker, Pastry Chef and Head of the Normandy Farm Cakes Department

Mackenzie’s dream was to become and artist, and she found a path that has allowed her to create delicious works of art.

As Pastry Chef and Head of the Normandy Farm Cakes Department, she finds creates masterpieces in every cake she creates.

She began her baking and pastry career in 8th grade, then worked in hospitality all through high school. She attended the Culinary Institute of America, main campus.

“I was first hired at Normandy Farm to be a cakes assistant. My responsibilities were to bake cakes, make mousses, and swiss buttercream. I eventually made my way to where I am now,” she explains.

“After four years, I have made the cakes department more efficient and innovative. My long-term goal is to grow the cakes department to the point where it needs its own kitchen,” she says.

Mackenzie’s passion extends to customer service for any kind of event at Normandy Farm, be it a wedding, bridal shower, baby shower, birthday party, anniversary, and even groom’s cakes. I feel meeting in person gives me the opportunity to get a clear picture of what the client is picturing for their cake. I always take one-on-one meetings if I can,” she explains.

Chef Mackenzie working on a wedding cake at Normandy Farm.

Get out and visit your favorite hotel or café this summer. Chances are, they’ve been missing you!

Support chefs and restaurants in Montgomery County and shop locally.

Read more about local Montgomery County chefs and the upcoming Crave Montco Month at the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board website.

*Some COVID-19 restrictions may still be in place. Please respect the chefs and the establishments you visit and observe any guidelines regarding social distancing or mask-wearing.

Christine Tarlecki is a local food and lifestyle writer, seeking out the best bites in the area and writing about them. She is the Editor of MONTCO.Today.