Creating a restaurant is a labor of love, a total commitment of time, energy, intellect, emotion, and passion. Unless you live this existence it is difficult to comprehend what it takes to make great food and serve the discriminating palates of a restaurant’s guests. One of the only fields that I would consider comparable is the life of a farmer. It was Dr. Scholl who said the keys to professional success are: “early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise”. This is the life of the farmer and the chef/restaurateur.
What is most interesting is that deep down, the farmer and the chef love what they do; not every day, not every moment, but overall it is passion and genetic work ethic that drives their personal engines.
As a chef by trade, I had always said that I would hire a farmer to work in my restaurants any day. Farmers know hard work and dedication, they are skilled and passionate and extremely dependable: they have to be.
What if you were to find a chef/restaurateur who grew up as part of a farm family and this person was accustomed to being up way before sunrise to milk cows, tend to daily farm chores and spend her summers mowing hay for winter forage. Well, such a person exists – her name is Rebekah Alford, chef/restaurateur at Rainbow Shores on Lake Ontario in Pulaski, New York.
In partnership with her mom, Renee, they operate this terrific restaurant offering beautifully prepared, highly flavorful, contemporary American cuisine just 100 feet from the shores of Lake Ontario. Mom, by the way, still works with Rebekah’s father and family operating their dairy farm in Central, New York. They milk 1,700 cows, three times every day.
Rebekah refers to her youth as: “the best of times and the worst of times”. The lifestyle made her teenage years different and challenging, but as she beams: “the experience made me the person I am today. Growing up on a farm helped me to understand the value of hard work.” Renee added: “it is hard to be passionate about a paycheck, but easy to become passionate about a hard earned dollar”. Rebekah’s entrepreneurial spirit is drawn from this reality.
Chef Rebekah attended Paul Smith’s College for culinary arts and later worked at the 4-Diamond Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa, the Relais and Chateaux Lake Placid Lodge as well other exceptional properties in Lake Placid, NY, before taking on the Rainbow Shores Project (now in their fourth year) with her mother and father.
Where her family finds the time to support this endeavor is beyond me. Their dairy farm encompasses 4,000 acres, a 2,800 head herd (1,700 are milked daily), producing 45 million pounds of milk each year (that’s right, I said 45 million). The farm grew from 43 cows to 1,700 milkers’ over the past couple of decades demonstrating the entrepreneurial spirit that Rebekah obviously inherited.
The kitchen at Rainbow Shores is brand new (a chef’s dream), the food is quite remarkable using the freshest ingredients, and the view is postcard perfect. The dirt road off of Route 3 that leads to the restaurant is deceiving. When the end of the road opens up for the restaurant, you find yourself stopping to breathe in the view that owns every guest the moment they arrive. Sunsets are hard to describe.
Rebekah lives by a Food Philosophy that drives all of her menu decisions and sums up her belief structure:
Food Philosophy for Rainbow Shores
It is our belief that food is more than sustenance and dining is more than simply eating. We are committed to starting with the finest, freshest, high quality ingredients; caring for these ingredients through proper cooking techniques and seasoning them to draw out exceptional, unique and memorable flavors.
The plate is our canvas and attention will always be paid to ensuring that the painting on this canvas reflects our passion for great food. Balance will always be achieved through complementary and equally passionate selection and preparation of wines, beers and unique cocktails that pair with our menu.
We believe in creating value and the complete dining experience framed by one of the most spectacular vistas on Lake Ontario and to serve our guests with the hospitality of family. This restaurant is our life calling and our staff are our ambassadors with guest satisfaction as their primary responsibility.
Exceptional Dining on the Shores of Lake Ontario
I believe that this talented woman chef (oh, did I mention she has a son to raise as well) is destined to leave her mark on the Central New York Restaurant scene. Some chef’s talk about building relations with farmers, her relations with farmers are in her DNA.
In 2014, Chef Rebekah will offer culinary internships for a few select, dedicated students of regional culinary arts colleges. Those interested in working at Rainbow Shores can contact Chef Rebekah through the restaurant.
For more information, view their website or Facebook page at:
For reservations, call: 315-298-5110
Rainbow Shores does close for the season after New Year’s Day 2014 and will reopen in the Spring of 2014.