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Meet Executive Chef Dane Wilfong

January 26, 2021

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We’re thrilled to announce a new, exciting  addition to our culinary team. Part-visionary, part-outdoorsman, and full-kitchen expert, Chef Dane Wilfong brings endless food inspiration to the kitchen at Herrington on the Bay. As you all know, one of the core principles of our business is to celebrate nature and local farmers by offering farm-to-table cuisine and committing to other sustainable practices. We’re excited about Chef Dane’s connection to nature, commitment to appetizing perfection, and unmatched love for the power of food.  But we’re most excited about his ability to transform beautiful ingredients into works of art that make an unforgettable culinary experience — one that we hope you’ll share with us. 

How did you begin your career as a chef?

I’ve always had a love affair with hospitality. From a very young age I was drawn to any task that brought others simple pleasure. I hadn’t grown up with much, and my beloved mother treated us to only the finest of microwavable foods. In response to an argument over wanting the latest game system, or something 12-year olds yearn for, I left the house in search of means to pay for said item myself. This quest to give life to idle hands landed me just a mile down the street at a casual eatery on the water that was always in need of someone, or something, and probably still is. Here, through my unrivaled eagerness to do anything other than wash dishes, I quickly moved up as others moved out.”

How has cooking shaped your identity? 

“The simplest tasks seemed so foreign coming from a household where cooking was so abstract, and I fell in love with the process. Turning beautiful ingredients into works of art and making flavors escape a vessel in such a way people couldn’t help themselves. Frequently yelled at for plating foods in a way that no other cook was willing to, or taking time to toast red pepper flakes because it changed a whole soup, I eventually decided there was more out there for me, this was only the kindling to a fire that I had no idea just how hungry it was.”

What meal of yours could you eat for the rest of your life?  

“Everytime the answer changeS but the answer is always: fresh ingredients. Paella is the most recognizable to my daily routine but usually never traditional. Salads are never limited to one type of green or even familiar vegetables, and probably never the same vinaigrette twice. I have a love/ hate relationship with most proteins but fresh seafood is incomparable to that of  most every other protein.”

Sustainability is a guiding principle at Herrington. What does sustainability mean to you? How have you integrated sustainability into your work?

“I grew up barefoot, on the water, with way more trees than people. Surrounded by farms and watermen. It has fallen on my own conscience to protect them, the ground we walk on, and to never be wasteful. I know and love all of the care that went into every ingredient, and the sacrifice nature made and kindly continues to make for us. I tend to steer away from places that take it too lightly. I am deeply saddened that it has become a lesser than normal practice for the world. We are all here to change that right? I have high hopes in taking our great practices even further to help tip the balance back.”

Couples tend to be concerned about catering to a variety of tastes and dietary restrictions. What do you recommend for a menu that will be universally loved?

“There are scientific formulas for that question, you know? We boiled it down to salt, fat, acid, heat. But then we added a plethora of individual modifiers, such as grandma ruining green beans for you for the better part of an eternity. So how about we just leave it up to maybe something light, fresh, local, [and] dictated by what the seasons have to give us? Who can argue with that?”

Maryland inspires us. What’s your take on a classic Maryland crab cake?

 “This question is a trap. Maryland has a lot of wonderful things but putting crabs into a cake is just short of blasphemy. We have beef, poultry, lamb, bison, oysters, and loads of fish.”

From your perspective as a chef, why should a couple choose Herrington on the Bay? 

“Because we are absolutely breathtaking. In every regard. We have a team of young dedicated staff that aren’t just selling you a venue they are almost, and in some cases more excited than you are to make this a one of a kind. The kitchen is a conglomeration of talented individuals determined to provide you anything but your “typical” wedding food. We care about all of the right things including making sure your dollars stay right here in the community with our local farmers, fisherman, ranchers, growers, and talent. At the very end of every event, after turning the lights off and closing those doors, I feel great and excited to do it all over again. That love affair I mentioned earlier is exactly why you should choose Herrington on the Bay. We don’t miss.”

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