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Bistro112 welcomes new chef

By Staff | Nov 4, 2011

‘The kitchen is the haven of the maddening world,’ said Chef Kelly C. Fitzgerald, the new executive chef at Bistro112 in Shepherdstown. (Chronicle photo by Rachel Molenda)

Rock Hudson. James Earl Jones. Elvis Presley. These are a few of the people Bistro112’s new chef, Kelly C. Fitzgerald, has cooked for in his career that spans over 25 years.

Coming to Shepherdstown via West Chester, Pa., Fitzgerald spoke of the charm that made him curious and, eventually, decide to stay Labor Day weekend.

“Once we got here, we didn’t really want to leave. There’s just like this aura or ambiance about this – the air, it’s fresh, it’s good,” he said.

Shepherdstown is a dream location for Fitzgerald. He spoke of his appreciation for fresh ingredients that can be found in the garden directly behind the restaurant, as well as the convenience of the Shepherdstown Farmers’ Market.

“It’s a great environment for a chef. It’s like the perfect studio to be an artisan. All the pieces of the puzzle are there for you to create great food,” he said.

In addition to culinary school, Fitzgerald “grew up in kitchens.” As a teenager, he worked under a chef who taught him to be extremely knowledgeable and disciplined.

“It gave me the knowledge, even now, to recognize key points of quality, which is important in a restaurant,” he said.

Fitzgerald was also highly influenced by his grandfather, who owned two dairy farms in Pennsylvania. There he learned how to grow melons and beans in addition to life skills that still have an impact today.

“I learned a lot from my grandfather about business, about hard work, understanding good food – that you need good food. It carried me through,” he said.

Fitzgerald remarked on the ease in which the transition from the Stone Soup Bistro, the restaurant’s original monicker, to Bistro112 occurred.

“I didn’t come in to a big dirty mess that I have to clean and reorganize. It was pretty seamless” despite the short timeline in which it happened – about three days, he said.

The food transition for customers has been “a little culture shock for some,” Fitzgerald said. Bistro112 has moved away from the lighter, contemporary American cuisine and into the world of fine French cooking. While frequent visitors to Shepherdstown might be confused by the change, owner Deborah Tucker said, “We’re starting to get some regulars from the surrounding towns, which is kind of nice.”

Tucker spoke of her finding Fitzgerald as a fated act.

“Finding Kelly was sort of like it was meant to be. His skills are so strong in the type of food that I wanted to bring to the community,” she said.

While Fitzgerald is still settling into his new home at Bistro112, he has made his passion and excitement for the job clear

“You know a good thing when you run across it,” he said.