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The Stage is Set for the Salamander Resort, with a Menu from Todd Gray & a Cooking Studio

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Equinox's chef d’ cuisine Colin McClimans, Todd Gray, and his son Harrison Gray pose in the resort's garden.
Equinox's chef d’ cuisine Colin McClimans, Todd Gray, and his son Harrison Gray pose in the resort's garden.

[Photos: Adele Chapin/Eater.com]


After eleven long years of planning, Middleburg's 168-room luxury Salamander Resort & Spa will open in less than 60 days. Set on 340 acres in the bucolic hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the newest resort from owner Sheila C. Johnson has just about every amenity guests could want, from horseback riding to treetop canopy zip-lining to outdoor private massages – and an expansive culinary program, thanks to Chef Todd Gray of Equinox, who serves as the Salamander Resort & Spa's culinary director. Before the resort opens on August 29, Eater checked in as the construction team puts the finishing touches on the dining spaces.

This is horse country, so expect equestrian-inspired, traditional decor throughout the sprawling resort. Design architect WATG, architect of record Architecture Inc., and Kent Interior Design of Atlanta are behind the design, with interior design inspiration from Thomas Pheasant. Every detail was considered, down to installing wooden floors that creak like an old manor.

Two dining concepts will be available for resort guests and the public: Salamander Resort & Spa's signature 110-seat Harrimans restaurant with dramatic views of the property, and the more informal Gold Cup Wine Bar, offering cheeses, charcuterie, shared plates, an extensive wine by-the-glass program, and tastings with local wineries.

As for the resort's menu, Gray is connecting the two Piedmont areas that have influenced him over the course of his career. "There is always a little flavor of Italian in my work, and I really am bringing together, in the style of Virginia Piedmont, my Italian training at Galileo and my time at Piedmont in Italy with my Virginia heritage and my Virginia upbringing, and using a lot of local product," Gray said. He means really local – there is a garden mere steps away from Harrimans restaurant.

In addition to local beef, lamb, veal and seafood from the Eastern seaboard, Harrimans' menu will also focus on healthy options, inspired by Johnson's veganism. ""If you don't appreciate vegan cooking now, you will. I promise," Gray said.

The resort also features a cooking studio with a panel door that will slide up and look into the state-of-the art kitchen, as well as high-definition cameras to film the classes. Chefs are already lined up for the guest chef program, with Bryan Voltaggio, Charlie Palmer, and Roberto Donna all slated to participate.

Rounding out Gray's Salamander Resort and Spa's team are chef de cuisine Vaughn Skaggs and pastry chef Jason Reaves, a Purcellville native who has been engaged for three years, waiting for the resort to open so he and his fiancé can host their wedding there. "Now that's a company man," observed Equinox's Ellen Gray.
· Salamander Resort [Official Site]
—Adele Chapin

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