Aaron Cross

Executive Chef

  • Charlottesville, VA, USA

Chef Aaron Cross is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. His kitchen adventures have taken him from Knoxville, Tenn., to The Metropolitan Club in Chicago and then to Lemaire at The Jefferson Hotel, a sister property of Keswick Hall. When he’s not cooking, Cross enjoys the outdoors, getting his hands dirty in the garden and searching for delicious craft brews and small-batch bourbons.

  • On October 12, 2012
    Aaron Cross answered the question: Aaron Cross

    Who is the sommelier at Fossett’s Restaurant?

    The sommelier at Fossett’s Restaurant is Richard Hewitt. First working in hospitality as a waiter at the Spaghetti Factory in New York City, Richard’s travels then took him to California and Portugal before landing him at Blantyre, in Lenox, Massachusetts, for 12 years. It was at Blantyre that Richard was put in charge of the cellar and reluctantly began to learn about wine. Several months later he was a convert and stopped spitting. During his tenure at Blantyre, Richard was also maitre d’hotel and twice he expanded Blantyre’s cellar, building the wine cabinets himself.
     
    In 2001 Richard moved to Charlottesville, and he joined the Keswick Hall team as sommelier the same year. In addition to being in charge of the beverage program at Keswick, Richard is also the resident winemaker, overseeing the resort’s on-site Courtside Vineyard and the production of over 500 cases of wine each year for Keswick’s private label, Ediths, aptly named for Edith Fossett; she was Thomas Jefferson’s chief cook at Monticello during the president’s retirement years and the inspiration for Fossett’s Restaurant.
  • On October 12, 2012
    Aaron Cross answered the question: Aaron Cross

    Are there any signature desserts at Fossett’s Restaurant?

    Like the menu at Fossett’s, our dessert selections vary season to season, always focused on the freshest ingredients available. Charlottesville is surrounded by orchards of all types so fresh fruits, nuts and berries are plentiful and often featured within the dessert creations of pastry chef Chris Salzman.
     
    One item that never leaves the menu, however, is the sticky toffee pudding served with whipped Devonshire cream, caramelized bananas and a warm toffee sauce. The perfect ending to any meal!
  • On October 12, 2012
    Aaron Cross answered the question: Aaron Cross

    What is the menu like at Fossett’s Restaurant?

    The menu at Fossett’s is a seasonal testament to the bounty of Virginia. Each menu item revolves around the freshest ingredients available and the tastes unique to the Charlottesville region. While the menu is ever-changing, guests can always find fresh Virginia harvested seafood, bison and chicken; a vegetarian dish or two; and our house-ground burger. Salads, soups and innovative starters set the stage for the arrival of the entrée.
     
    I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the breakfast menu at Fossett’s, which is filled with southern specialties like grits, Virginia ham and pan-fried trout. A great selection of healthful items like our housemade granola, slow-cooked oatmeal and an egg-white frittata with fresh-from-the-garden veggies and herbs round out the menu.
  • On October 12, 2012
    Aaron Cross answered the question: Aaron Cross

    Who is the pastry chef at Fossett’s Restaurant?

    Chris Salzman, a Charlottesville native, is the pastry chef at Fossett’s Restaurant and creates delectable desserts, pastries, baked goods and wedding cakes, which are served throughout the resort. Chris graduated at the top of his class at L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Md. Under the tutorage of chefs such as Colette Peters of Colette’s Cakes in New York and Roland Mesniern, the longest-serving White House chef, Chris honed his skills before moving back to Charlottesville to work at The Clifton Inn. In 2010, Chris joined the team at Keswick Hall and Fossett’s and has been inspiring guests with his pastry creations ever since. 
  • On October 12, 2012
    Aaron Cross answered the question: Aaron Cross

    What is the chef at Fossett’s Restaurant’s food philosophy?

    My food philosophy is simple. Find the best ingredients from the most responsible farmers and producers in our community and creatively exploit each ingredient’s most vibrant quality. While I like to explore a wide variety of cooking techniques and styles, my roots will always be southern and those traditions are always present in the dishes in some unique way.
  • On October 12, 2012
    Aaron Cross answered the question: Aaron Cross

    What are the best things to order at Fossett’s Restaurant?

    The best things to order at Fossett’s are constantly changing with each season but they always revolve around the terrific ingredients available year-round in Virginia. The seafood from the Chesapeake is my personal favorite, whether it arrived in the kitchen in a shell or with fins. The Virginia-raised bison and farmstead cheeses are other year-round staples in Fossett’s. I also like to feature the Virginia-raised game as the season dictates.
  • On October 12, 2012
    Aaron Cross answered the question: Aaron Cross

    What is the service like at Fossett’s Restaurant?

    I like to describe the service in Fossett’s as attentive but unobtrusive. Our staff is well informed about the menu items. They are able to provide expert opinions and recommendations and have tasted all the dishes themselves so that they can describe the nuances of each dish, not just a list of the ingredients and vendors who provided them. Overall, I would call our style “understated elegance.” 
  • On October 12, 2012
    Aaron Cross answered the question: Aaron Cross

    What’s the best table at Fossett’s Restaurant?

    My favorite table in Fossett’s Restaurant is one of the tables out on the terrace. A fabulous meal enjoyed under the stars is my idea of perfection.
     
    Inside, all the tables are great and my favorite depends on the occasion, whether dining with a significant other for a romantic evening or gathered with friends and family at the table for ten.
  • On October 12, 2012
    Aaron Cross answered the question: Aaron Cross

    What is the interior design of Fossett’s Restaurant?

    Fossett’s Restaurant was designed to impress guests with a truly spectacular view. The restaurant is intimate, with just 75 seats, while the three walls of floor-to-ceiling glass provide a one-of-a-kind landscape with the beauty of the resort’s golf course in the foreground and the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains beyond. The view changes with each season, with fall being the most spectacular as the leaves change and produce a perfect picture.
     
    The interior of the restaurant is just as charming, with elements that mimic the country estate feel of Keswick Hall, including columns, antique furnishings, oil paintings and a wood-burning fireplace. The tables sparkle with china, silver and glass carefully arranged on beautiful damask cloths draped to the floor. 
  • On October 12, 2012
    Aaron Cross answered the question: Aaron Cross

    What are some things to know about Fossett’s Restaurant?

    Five things you should know about Fossett’s Restaurant are:
     
    1. The menu changes frequently so that each dish features the freshest possible ingredients from our chef’s garden and our local vendors. So no matter how many times you visit the resort, there are always new menu items to try and your experience will always be uniquely Charlottesville.

    2. The sheer volume of wines. Fossett’s wine list is impressive, but the taste profiles available are phenomenal. There literally is the perfect bottle available to match any menu item that inspires you, and our sommelier, Richard, is the perfect guide through those options. The wine list is also available on an iPad should you prefer a more intuitive search.

    3. The view, the view, the view! My team is always focused on the quality of ingredients, the composition and the presentation of the dishes, but there’s no denying that the view from any table in Fossett’s is spectacular. Three walls of the restaurant are floor-to-ceiling glass and face the resort’s pristine golf course and the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

    4. Fossett’s is named in honor of Ms. Edith Fossett (1787-1854), who was Thomas Jefferson’s chief cook at Monticello during his retirement years. She learned the art of French cooking from Honere Julien, head chef, and Etienne Lemaire, the maitre d’hotel, while serving in the White House during Jefferson’s presidential years. Always good to have a little historical perspective!

    5. Fossett’s Bar is one of my other favorite spots in Keswick Hall. If you are not in the mood for a bigger meal or are just looking for something more casual (a jacket is suggested for Fossett’s Restaurant), then Fossett’s Bar is the perfect compromise. The same fresh ingredients are used in our own interpretation of what bar food should be. The seasonal cocktails feature those same ingredients and are always innovative and tasty. Best of all, you still get a great view from the terrace or you can cozy up by the fireplace.