ROSEVILLE — Stephanie Vasbinder likes to say she has worked the “front of the house” and the “back of the house and that makes for a “happy house.” Chef Stephanie’s new house is the Pinecrest Country Club located on Route 322 west of Brookville.
Under the previous Chef, Stephanie had been in charge of the wait staff who are in the “front” of the house and now she runs the “back of the house,” the kitchen.
“It’s no secret that the Pinecrest has had a hard six months,” said Lucy Ames, the event coordinator at Pinecrest. “I truly believe that is behind us. Like a lot of businesses, we unfortunately put our club in the hands of a couple of people who could not meet the Pinecrest standards. My dad always taught me to under-promise and over-deliver. The last two cooks did just the opposite. They over-promised and under-delivered but, now, they are gone.
Chef Spencer Warfield resigned due to health reasons and his son, Mitchell, followed shortly after him.,
“We now have Chef Stephanie and it is a new beginning at Pinecrest. We are putting the last six months behind us and we are moving forward n a very positive way.
“In just three short weeks, Chef Steph has already made a world of difference in the kitchen. Her food is creative and outstandingly good,” said Ames. “We hope that the good people of our area will also put the last six months behind them and give Chef Stephanie a try. They will not be disappointed.”
Chef Steph insists on fresh ingredients. “The hamburger I am serving tonight was ground this morning,” she said. She is also buying her produce locally.
Chef Steph’s love of food began at an early age. “When I was little, I was always in the kitchen with all of my grandmothers,” she said. “I have loved cooking ever since.”
That love took her through the I.U.P. Culinary School and to an internship with a Florida resort. “They did a lot with seafood, naturally, and I learned quite a bit from them.”
Chef Steph has learned from every place she worked. When she worked at Oklahoma State University she learned real Mexican food. “There is a world of difference between refried beans from a can and real refried beans,” she joked. In Oklahoma she also learned how to prepare a southwest barbecue and, of course, steaks.
“Freshness is the key,” she said. “All of our meat is from local butchers.”
“This is the country club and I believe our members deserve the best,” she said.
Her motto is simple, “If I wouldn’t eat it, I won’t serve it.”
“I worked for four years at Luigi’s in Clymer and that was a great experience,” she said. “I learned about authentic Italian spices and real Italian recipes. In this area if it isn’t real Italian you will hear about it.”
Chef Steph is all about listening. “When I was working in the front of the house I heard what people were saying. I heard what they liked and what they didn’t like.”
She has incorporated some of those ideas into the Pinecrest’s new menu. “We are in transition right now,” she said. “We have been trying a few new things to see what works and what doesn’t work.”
She is also developing a dessert menu that will retain the popular Banannas Foster but will add seasonal pies including fruit pies.
This is the first time Chef Steph has been in total control of a restaurant. “It is a bit challenging,” she said. “But I enjoy the challenge.” She noted she trained the staff in the front of the house and any new additions to the wait staff will need to meet her standards.”
Chef Steph is also appreciative of the members at the Pinecrest. “They just don’t treat you like an employee,” she said. “It is more of a family. They will ask how you are and mean it. They ask about my son and, the few times that I brought him with me, they seemed to enjoy having him here.”
Working with the Punxsutawney native is John Pinson who attended the PA. Institute of Culinary Arts, graduated from the Winners Institute of Arts and Sciences and served as a cook in the U. S. Army for four years.
Chef Steph is looking at special events for this fall. “I love the Halloween season,” she said. “I hope to do more special events.”
The Pinecrest is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and open for Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The club is closed on Monday.
The Pinecrest is booking weddings and special events for 2017. Prospective wedding couples are invited for a free tasting prior to booking.
To speak with Chef Steph, call 814-849-4660.