Chef Jeff Ault
Head Chef at the Bavarian Inn
Chef Jeff Ault of the Bavarian Inn brings European inspired dishes with an Appalachian flare to fine dining to West Virginia
Chef Ault now has more than 20 years of experience in the kitchen, with training from chefs from Tuscany and beyond.
Born in Westminster, Maryland and raised there until moving here at 13, Chef Ault is now the Executive Chef at the Bavarian Inn in West Virginia.
Your favorite ingredient: “My favorite ingredient right now is koji rice. I use it to create different types of Miso. I’m constently working on new ideas to perfect it.”
Favorite dish to cook at home: “Seafood and fish. Usually halibut or salmon.”
Most essential kitchen item: “Mason jars! Here and at home. To have a ripe green tomato in the middle of the winter that was preserved by us, it’s probably one of the coolest things in the world to me.”
Guilty pleasure snack or dish: “Quaker cheddar rice cakes right now! I can go through bags of them, I don’t know what it is. It’s the flavor and the texture.”
Head Chef Jeff Ault of the Bavarian Inn
Explain your background and how you got into the culinary scene.
“I ended up actually going to school for business and computer engineering, but there was the dotcom crash right after y2k, and I needed work. I knew I could fall back on my restaurant experience. One day one of the cooks had gotten injured at the restaurant I was in, and I said ‘Hey, I’ll do it, I’ll give it a try.’ I ended up covering for more than just that day, the entire week. The people that had worked in the kitchen asked me how long I had done this, and I told them that it was my first time! They were like ‘Well, you seem like you’ve done it all your life.’ It kinda clicked, you know? From that point I decided I was going to dedicate my time to learning to do it properly.” Chef Jeff Ault now has more than 20 years of experience in the kitchen, with training from chefs from Tuscany and beyond.
Biggest influencer for Ault’s love for food…
Who influenced your love for food?
“When I was 5, I lived with my grandparents. They both survived the Great Depression, and my grandfather was a butcher by trade, and my grandmother was a stay at home wife. We had a 5 acre lot and 2 acres of it was garden. So there was a daily routine of canning, or picking, or using something from the garden – which kind of influenced my love of mason jars. So it started at 5 or 6 years old… I would just play in the kitchen with my grandmother; I thought it was the neatest thing in the world. Then I would go to the store with my grandfather and just help him move things around; carry the meat in and stuff, but then he eventually ended up teaching me how to do it.”
Setting your menu apart…
What makes your menu different from others in the area?
“Yes, there is that German element, but there a lot of different things that definitely set us apart from everyone around here. It’s the things like fermenting our own sauerkraut, and making miso from scratch, and other things… for example we had a goose dish over the holidays where we fermented kale and made our own sauerkraut, we fermented and then sugar cured plums… so it’s those little types of things where less becomes more. We put a lot more thought to the component rather than more components into the thought. So that, and of course wild game. It’s a big piece of our history here at the Bavarian Inn.”
At that moment, as if to reinforce his last statement, the Inn’s antler chandelier hanging in their newly renovated dining area caught my eye.
Meeting the challenge of the Bavarian Inn…
How has the Bavarian Inn challenged you?
“This restaurant is different from any other restaurant I’ve ever worked in. Our challenges are not only trying to be a little more inventive, but managing our time properly. We do banquets and weddings, and we have a separate lounge menu, separate pool menu, separate room service menu… So that is our challenge collectively.”
What is your favorite thing about working at the Inn?
“I think my favorite thing about working here are those challenges. I do enjoy the diversity of the staff that I have. I think every single one of my cooks and my two sous chefs… everyone back there has something to bring to the table. There are so many different ideas and people to collaborate with. My favorite thing is knowing that I can trust everyone of those people to accommodate all these different outlets we have and to succeed.”
The Local Sourced Home Grown Movement…
How do you feel about the locally sourced, home-grown movement happening right now?
“I know it’s a movement now, but ever since I got into this I’ve always been [a proponent of] living on what you have and keeping it communal. Coming this spring we’ll be putting an herb garden back where the smoker and fire pit currently are, and we may be looking installing a garden closer to the shed to grow more produce. It’s a great focal point for a restaurant to have.”
Make your reservations for a dinner prepared by Chef Jeff Ault.
Due to Limited Space, Rathskellar Dining Reservations are not available online. To Reserve a table please call 304 876 2551.