There’s a crisp in the air and pumpkin spice in our mug. Fall is upon us and we are here for it. So is Chef Ken Durbin. He's the owner and founder of The At Home Chef, creating custom in-home dining experiences across the Tri-State from dinner parties to date nights. Voted Best Private Chef in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, The At Home Chef does all of the menu prep, shopping, cooking and even cleaning (click here to see our editor's recent review). With it being National Cooking Day today, we asked Durbin to share his top picks for Fall menu favorites and to spill his secrets on where to find the best ingredients.
1. Baby Beet Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese. This is a flavorful salad that's perfect for Fall. The spinach is crisp and rich in flavor, the goat cheese is creamy and comforting, and the beets give the perfect sweet and earthy touch. It even looks like autumn on a plate.
2. Autumn Spiced Butternut Squash Soup. Fall is the ultimate soup season, and this is a cozy, cool-weather comfort food that's savory, naturally sweet, and full of all your favorite Fall spices.
3. Cream of Potato Soup. This is another Fall favorite when it comes to soups. It's simple, hearty, full of flavor and warms your soul.
4. Autumn Manhattan. It's everything you love about Fall and Manhattans in a glass. The oak of the bourbon, sweetness of the vermouth and cherries, bitters of orange, then add apple cider, maple syrup, or both to make it an Autumn Manhattan.
5. Filet with Asparagus and a Béarnaise Sauce. Steak is always a good stick-to-your-ribs staple for Fall. Add some Béarnaise to make it extra hearty. Top it off with Asparagus, fresh from a local Autumn Asparagus harvest.
6. Stuffed Apples with Vanilla Ice Cream and Carmel. This is a grown-up version of those candied apples you'd get as a kid at Fall festivals. The baked crisp apple, filled with creamy vanilla ice cream, and drizzled with delicious caramel. The perfect sweet treat for Fall.
Where to find the best ingredients for these Fall favorites? Durbin says he has great relationships with several area farms and farmers to source the ingredients he needs for each custom meal he creates. (Fun fact: He's never repeated a menu in all his years as a personal chef.) He says these two are among his favorites:
Located along scenic rural Route 8 in Hebron, Kentucky, this roadside farm has been family owned and operated for six generations. From July through November, they offer a range of fresh fruits and vegetables grown on their farm. Not only do they have freshly-picked fruits and vegetables at their roadside farm stand, but there are also several opportunities for pick-your-own produce throughout the year, such as tomatoes, greens and of course pumpkins in the fall.
For nearly 30 years, Farmer Lee Jones at The Chef's Garden has been delivering specialty products to the world's most discriminating chefs and most well-known restaurants, direct from his farm in Huron, Ohio. The farm was built on a foundation of traditional farming methods but they're also known for innovating and developing new products that help them remain one of the leading growers of artisanal produce in the world. While they've typically worked directly with restauranteurs for the past three decades, they got back to their roots of providing produce directly to people while restaurants were closed during the pandemic. The Chef's Garden began by selling boxes of fresh vegetables that were shipped directly to homes, which they plan to continue, adding the farm market to options for the public.