The Artful Chef

The Artful Chef

A Chef’s Passion for Real Food

by Anita Rafael

Chef Josh Tomson at The Hermitage on Handle Road in West Dover, just minutes from the Village center, has something that chefs elsewhere can only dream of: a huge vegetable and herb garden just steps away from his kitchen door. Tilled and planted in the spring of this year, the plot provides him with the fresh ingredients that shape his menus. What a luxury: organic food that goes from garden to table with no one but himself as the
middleman. Even Alice Waters, California’s Chez Panisse Restaurant & Cafe goddess of fresh food, would be impressed.

When guests meet Chef Josh, he shares the secret of his straightforward culinary mantra: ingredients should be fresh, local, seasonal. His inspired summer menu combinations are new favorites, such as his pairing of pan-seared Wild Salmon with an Apple, Celery and Fennel slaw. Must try: Chef Josh’s Guacamole Martini. No, not to sip, but to nibble on; it is one of his sensational summer appetizers.

The Hermitage, as many recall, was owned and operated by the now late James McGovern who first opened it somewhat “hunting lodge style” in 1971. Closed for only a brief interval, the property was recently sold and reopened last year in a second incarnation that has captured all the best of its past fame while substantially augmenting the level of service, style and comfort. Today’s guests take great pleasure in its restored, yet informal, elegance.

On sultry summer nights, guests may reserve a private dinner for up to 12 people in the hushed coolness of the elegantly furnished Wine Cellar. Some choose to order from Chef Josh’s new summer menu; others meet with him ahead of time to plan their own meal while pairing each course with the fine wines from the hundreds of bins in the 55º chandelier-lit chamber.

The dining room and tavern at The Hermitage, an historic homestead, are open to the public. The Inn is located in West Dover at 25 Handle Road. More information at:

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