Root 246 Reinvents with Chef Crystal DeLongpré
Management of Root 246, the restaurant and banquet arm of upscale Solvang lodging property, Hotel Corque, has officially announced the addition of celebrity chef Crystal “Pink” DeLongpré as Chef De Cuisine, heading up the restaurant’s kitchens for its regular dining rooms and lounge, as well as the venue’s banquet services.
With the addition of Chef Pink, Root 246, now entering its tenth year in business, has received accompanying and deliberate updates and transformations: the restaurant, owned by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, is re-committing to a locally- and ethically-sourced set of menus which are 100 percent ingredient-driven; adding numerous, hospitable vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options; giving itself a slight interiors facelift; and instituting a craft cocktail program to complement Chef Pink’s culinary agenda.
In her role as Chef De Cuisine, Chef Pink’s founded food “philosophy” of utilizing local, organic vegetables and organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised animals comes into play in the form of seasonally-changing menus. Root 246’s Fall 2018 menu, the first of which is completely under Chef Pink’s direction and bears some of her trademark dishes, utilizes produce which is 99% local to the restaurant’s seat in Santa Barbara wine country; humane/sustainable meats, with beef from Temple Grandin-designed Creekstone Farms; and local seafood.
“We want locals and visitors to this area, to see that Root is more than just a hotel restaurant. We want the community to come back, to rediscover what at one time, was one of the finest dining establishments in the Santa Ynez Valley. We’ve adjusted our pricing to be more attractive to everyday diners and families, and have expanded the menus to be more approachable and welcoming to nearly all dietary needs,” says Chef Crystal “Pink” DeLongpré, Chef De Cuisine of the new-and-improved Root 246, who continued, “I live to feed people. All people.”
Chef Pink adds, “But at the same time, I’m here to elevate the entire Root 246 experience. Our dining rooms, bar and lounge have been redesigned, keeping with the sleek, higher-end ambience that the restaurant was originally known for…with service to match. I’m excited to be able to put my personal stamp on the dishes coming out of this kitchen. I’m keeping things grounded…while adding playful and avant-garde touches.”
Chef Pink’s culinary career spans two decades as a food and restaurant industry veteran. She has worked with California chefs and restaurants stretching from Los Angeles to San Francisco, as well as in New York and Paris kitchens. Chef Pink’s time in New York had her cooking with Chef April Bloomfield at both The Spotted Pig and The Breslin, while here in Santa Barbara County, Chef Pink has helmed other area eateries, as Executive Chef at Epiphany Restaurant and Square One, and Chef/Owner of her previous-to-Root 246 venture, Bacon & Brine. She has also worked in private homes of Santa Barbara County and Los Angeles-area celebrities.
In more recent years, Chef Pink’s dedication to her craft and her food mission, garnered her attention and thus TV spots on Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue”, Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen,” and “Man vs. Child” on fyi,TM. Chef Pink and her wife, Courtney Rae DeLongpré, also appeared in LOGO TV’s 2016 documentary film, “HUNGRY”.
Root 246’s new fall menus consist of Dinner offerings, Lounge bites, a Dessert menu, and a Kids Menu – the latter of which, features entertaining dinosaurs as serve-ware. Dishes run the gamut from the Anthony Bourdain-inspired “KFC” (Korean fried chicken wings and drums), to the luxurious Organic Chicken Liver Pâté (parsley, crispy shallots, IPA vinegar, grilled bread), to the nod to Solvang’s Danish food culture in a Smoked Local White Sea Bass (salmon caviar, dill, rye bread, crème fraîche), to standout seafood dishes like Braised Octopus Stew (oak-grilled octopus, cannellini beans, house bacon, in broth), to an elevated American Lamb Burger (6 oz. American lamb patty, Bellwether Farms ricotta cheese, spicy tomato jam, pickled mustard seed).
Gluten-free, vegan and/or vegetarian options are plentiful, such as Roasted Kabocha Squash (with local red wheat, almond and coconut reduction, spicy pepitas) or Chef Pink’s fan-favorite side of garlic-Tamari sauced Brussels Sprouts with a generous sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.
“Although our menu accommodates a wide range of diets, meat eaters have definitely not been forgotten…in addition to our burgers, the current menu features three cuts of beef, all butchered in house and grilled over local oak,” adds Chef Pink. One such menu item is the 24 oz. Dry Aged Bone-in Rib Eye, accompanied by locally-cultivated mushrooms and indulgent beef fat potatoes.
Other “Pink” signatures are found in her Legit Fried Chicken (Yukon Gold mash, house pickle, dill) and the over-the-top Niman Ranch Pork Osso Buco (braised baby turnips, preserved lemon, prune gremolata).
Comforting sweets balance out some of the more serious savory, taking the shape of desserts like a Hard Root Beer Float (Not Your Father's Root Beer, vanilla bean gelato – also available in a non-alcoholic version); a decidedly oversized Butterscotch & Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich, or sibling, Oatmeal-Pecan Ice Cream Sandwich; or a delicate Chocolate Budino made with Frangelico and olive oil, served jarred atop a fudge brownie.
Root 246 will please wine country diners with a centralized design focal point, a glass-encased wine "cellar" between the dining room and lounge, boasting a dual-climate system for red and white wines. Guests seeking libations other than the requisite wine, may choose from the restaurant and bar's lengthy, international whiskey list, or hand crafted cocktails.
In early 2019, Root 246 will receive a new bar program, completed by Chef Pink's TV celebrity cohort and “Bar Rescue” colleague, Mia Mastroianni. Within the next month, the restaurant will launch a Chef's Table – located inside the bustling kitchen – which will be available for private dinners, with a menu and service personally-curated by Chef Pink.
Chef Pink also crafts and attends to the Root 246 banquet and catering menus, which revolve around the restaurant’s new Fall menu, as well as the room service menus for neighboring Hotel Corque.
Chef Pink says, “My role might be new, but my goal is the same: I still want to share with the surrounding community my personal mix of fine dining techniques using local ingredients. I’m continuing to utilize my years of training as a proper chef, combining that with my philosophy of hyper-local, organic, whole, sustainable food systems. And my dedication to a memorable food experience that’s accessible to everyone.”