Marigold by Jean-Georges at Keswick Hall is an exciting destination for lovers of food and wine in Charlottesville. The restaurant provides an exceptional meal and dining experience in the heart of Virginia Wine Country, bringing together all the elements of luxury. The Michelin Star executive chef dishes out seasonal masterpieces showcasing his French roots and love of local ingredients, both of which keep him motivated.
The restaurant menu rotates often to offer sustainable produce that is at its peak – much of it is grown on Keswick’s own nearby Oakdale Farm. Owners Molly and Robert Hardie are dedicated to the Zero-Kilometer food movement. Marigold participates in a local grass-fed beef program in addition to the produce from their farm and honey from their on-property apiary, ensuring that the best ingredients go into every meal.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten is both a talented chef and savvy businessman, responsible for the operation and success of 40 restaurants worldwide. He has also authored five cookbooks and starred in a travel and cooking show on PBS. His latest venture, Marigold, opened in August of 2021 as part of Keswick Hall Resort’s extensive renovations. With its stunning panoramic views, rustic hardwood floors and extravagant bar, the Marigold by Jean-Georges offers a truly elevated dining experience.
Jean-Georges on Discovering His Passion for Food
What do you remember eating as a child?
When you grow up in Alsace, France you have two of everything: two different languages, two different types of cuisines and more. Every mealtime, we ate a fusion of French and German cuisine; there was a lot of pork, sausage, goose, potatoes and cabbage. Today, the world is my palette.
When not in the restaurant, what do you love to eat?
I love Asian food, specifically Japanese. I also love roast chicken with potatoes. I love cooking the chicken over a bed of potatoes so the potatoes absorb the juices from the chicken.
What is your favorite ingredient to work with?
Ginger. It’s incredibly versatile and good for you. You can pickle it, juice it, steam it, infuse it, candy it, grate it and more. It goes well with everything—meat, fish, vegetables…
Marigold Restaurant at Keswick
You are responsible for the operation and success of 40 restaurants around the world. How does the concept at Marigold differ from your other restaurants?
When we first toured the Keswick Hall property, we fell in love with the landscape, the nearby farm, the gardens and the historical hotel. It reminded me of growing up in Alsace. With the farm nearby, we’re always inspired, and we’re so excited to be growing our own produce. This is the first restaurant where we will be growing our own vegetables and so close to the restaurant. It’s very special.
The lovely bocce court near the entrance is lined with beds of flowers and herbs. With lots of comfortable seating and charming bistro lights, it is a beautiful welcome for guests to Marigold Restaurant.
What role do local ingredients have at your restaurants and at Marigold, in particular?
I have always cooked with the seasons and cooked with local ingredients. It is something I have done since I began cooking. It is so important for me to continue learning and building relationships with local purveyors and farmers. I want to understand new ingredients, how they are farmed and ensure that it is all ethical. Additionally, with ingredients I have worked with before, I challenge myself to be creative and use them in a different way.
“This is the first restaurant where we will be growing our own vegetables.”
During your time in Charlottesville and Central Virginia, where did you eat? Did any restaurants stand out to you?
We loved our visit to Market Central at IX Art Park, we thought it had some of the best food we had ever tried, from the kettled popcorn and breakfast from Mamma Bird—breakfast bowl, rice, bulgogi, egg, kimchi pancake wrap with spicy pork, KFQ (Korean fried quail) and quail egg poppers—to burritos from the stall just across. I am passionate about local foods and always love a great market.
Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten Advice to Home Cooks
As an author and chef, your advice is invaluable. What is your most essential tool, cookbook or equipment?
When I’m at home, an Instant Pot because it’s fast, keeps all the flavor and juices together, and is easy to clean.
What is one dish that everyone should know how to cook?
The perfect omelet, eggs any style or a roast chicken. They are simple and always delicious.
What advice would you give a home cook for creating amazing food at home?
Go to your local market, smell, taste and be inspired by the produce. Once you have your ingredients and dish in mind, keep it simple but flavorful, [and] season with your senses and the seasons.
You have accomplished so much over your career as a chef, author and restauranteur. What keeps you motivated to strive for more?
I love what I do; I can’t wait to get into work every morning. My team inspires me, [and] I’m always excited to connect with them and meet new faces. I enjoy learning about new projects and dishes; every day is a new day. I continue to realize my food and restaurant dreams every day, whether it’s through new or existing concepts, restaurants and food. ~
How To Visit Marigold by Jean-Georges
Visit Marigold Restaurant by Jean-Georges at Keswick Hall for the chance to experience Chef Vongerichten’s cuisine firsthand. Marigold is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and everyone is welcome, whether they are staying over as resort guests or just coming for a meal. Menu items are seasonal and change often. Diners may be offered dishes such as escarole and apple salad, burrata, lobster pasta, crispy sushi, prosciutto wrapped pork chop, roasted beets carpaccio or beef tenderloin, Reservations are recommended for busy days and be sure to look for wine festivals, UVA graduation weekend and alumni reunion events as those are often booked far in advance. Reservations may be made online or by calling. The ultimate luxury resort, Keswick Hall offers world class accommodations, a holistic spa, stunning views, an award-winning golf course and private tours and outings in addition to exceptional dining.
Learn more about the renowned food and drink makers paving the way for greatness in the commonwealth with Virginia Wine & Country’s Meet the Maker series. From award-winning winemakers, gardeners and Michelin Star chefs, Virginia is home to a robust farm-to-table movement defined by culinary delights and craft beverages. This article originally appeared in Book 13 of Virginia Wine & Country Life. Start your subscription here or give a gift subscription. ~
BRIAN MELLOTT has a master’s degree in education, and is a writer and photographer whose work shows his passion for food and the people who create it.
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