The culinary team at the helm of The Grand Summit Hotel revels in the atmosphere this time of year provides to create flavorful food and beverage indicative of the summer season. Executive Chef Charles Burke has been at the forefront of the property’s food and beverage program for over 18 years, and has surrounded himself with a passionate team that supports his vision and builds on it.
As Executive Chef, Burke’s responsibilities include overseeing the entire food and beverage operation including weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and all corporate meetings and events that take place on the hotel’s main level in the Grand Ballroom and supporting event spaces. In addition, he oversees the entire culinary element of the popular HAT Tavern that has transformed the hotel’s food and beverage reputation. “My team gets together once a quarter to look at trends in the industry, and from there we consider what items we like personally and what we are hearing from customers and friends." The result is a mix of traditional and new that attracts residents throughout the borough of Summit and the surrounding towns.
Customers of the HAT have found the winter months to be a great time to nestle into the warm setting the restaurant offers, however, the summer months spring to life as the patio opens and a whole new feeling overtakes the space. “The first thing people notice is the size and comfort of our bar,” offers Walter Curtis HAT Tavern General Manager. There is a serious Cheers vibe that the hotel and restaurant have fashioned to be their calling card for repeat customer so valuable to their success. “We have some of the best bartenders in the area led by Scott Robertson” adds Curtis. “This guy knows everyone’s name and drink preference, and he creates a welcoming atmosphere that is unlike anything offered in and around the town of Summit.”
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Summer-themed menu items off the restaurants simple yet tasty menu include the chef’s award-winning Fried Lump Crab & Vermicelli Fritters, served hot, crispy on the outside with a slightly Cajun dipping sauce sure to please. Another favorite is the Ale House Sliders made with nicely seasoned beef, maple bacon, creamy cheddar, and Chef “Angry Mike” Meola’s “special sauce”.
We would be remiss not to mention the leadership of Brigham Smith, Michael Meola, and Madike Sene who have been at the side of Chef Burke for many years. Smith takes the lead as it relates to the hotel’s private events while Sene drives the HAT’s day to day business. Michael Meola also known as “Angry Mike” for his curt attitude and culinary focus is the team’s guru when it comes to cutting edge ideas picked up in his leisure travels following his favorite band Pearl Jam throughout the world. One of the HAT’s most popular items has become Angry Mike’s Chicken Wing specials. “Mixing spices to create delicious flavor for the customers is a science that I really enjoy” offers Meola. “It’s one thing to be an original, but it’s important to stay relevant, and Thor and I constantly push ourselves to improve on the product we deliver to a very demanding and loyal clientele” adds Meola. From the Grill to the oven, here are two items that are popular in the summer season.
Grilled Marinated Flank Steak
2# Flank Steak or Steak of your choice
1 cup Soy Sauce
1 cup Pineapple Juice
½ cup Honey
½ cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 Garlic Cloves (minced)
1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger (minced)
- Montreal Steak Seasoning as much as you prefer
- Mix ingredients and marinate steak overnight
- Pre-heat grill and cook to your desired doneness
- Let the steak rest for 10 minutes before slicing
Angry Mike’s Peach Blaze Wings
10# Chicken Wings or Wingettes
6 each Habanero Peppers (diced)
1 qt Canned Glazed Peaches
1 qt Apple Juice
½ # Butter
½ # Dark Brown Sugar
- Add all ingredients to sauce pan except wings and bring to boil
- Lower heat and simmer 15 minutes
- Remove from heat and blend using food processor
- Return pot to stove and thicken with corn starch
- Place in refrigerator to cool
- When cool add half of sauce to raw wings and allow to marinate 1 hour
- Place wings on baking pan and cook through
- Place wings on pre heated grill and crisp up for nice char flavor
- Toss wings with the remaining sauce
“The bar is at the center of everything we do” offers Curtis. “Our signature Sangria featuring ingredients made from scratch to create a fruity summer blend is among the bar’s most popular offerings” according to Robertson. He adds,“My personal favorite and one that my customers have come to love is called Something Sweet A real smart drink for the hot summer months”.
1 oz. Citrus Vodka
3/4 oz. Pimms No.1
1/2 oz. Lime Juice
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
1 1/2 oz. Club Soda
General Manager Walter Curtis oversaw the transition from Hunt Club to HAT Tavern and loves the demographic that frequents the area’s most beloved new spot. “On any given night the restaurant is filled with a mix of business guests, parents with children, millennials celebrating with friends, and retirees out for a bite to eat” says Curtis. “In some places that would be a problem. The amazing thing is that this very diversified mix of guests coexists and it’s beautiful to watch.”