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By Anne Pyburn Craig
7/12/12 - 11:47 am
7/12/12 - 11:47 am
Photo: Victoria Charkut and Peter Mullin's new restaurant Buttercup will be serving Thursday through Sunday in Andes. Photo by Mellisa Misner.
Victoria Charkut and Peter Mullin have wandered and lived all over Europe for decades, and settled in Delaware County a couple of years ago. When their yellow rescue cat Buttercup made it obvious that the country was more to his liking, the couple thought it over and agreed, becoming full time residents.
It seemed only right, therefore, that when it came time for Victoria to realize her dream of opening a restaurant, Buttercup would be given due recognition. A lifelong passion for gourmet cooking, a love of hospitality, and a chef with a five star resume are all part of the recipe for the new eatery, which will be serving Thursday through Sunday.
The Watershed Post spoke with Victoria as she and her team applied finishing touches.
Watershed Post: I've heard of waiters and waitresses who yearn for the stage. This is the first I've heard of a theater person whose lifelong dream was opening a restaurant.
Victoria Charkut: That's funny! It is the opposite, isn't it? I did some theater, mostly in Manhattan in the 80s – ran theater groups, curated talent, wrote plays and had one produced. So I was working in the field in a small way.
There are some like Chris Noth, who played Carrie's love interest Mr. Big in Sex In The City – he has a restaurant and actually spends time there. More commonly, famous people will own a place and just lend their name and celebrity to it without actually doing much.
But I never did get famous, maybe because although I enjoyed it, my heart was elsewhere. I grew up in Michigan and my parents and I got in the car every Sunday and drove to a little tiny restaurant in the country where all they served was fried chicken- the most mouth-watering fried chicken. I've been devouring cooking shows for years – my favorite is Jamie Oliver. So simple, so good.
And we've done quite a bit of European travel and it always amazed me how you'll be driving in the middle of nowhere in France or Spain and all of a sudden come across some unexpected little place, and the food's out of this world.
WP: Are you as excited as you got about opening night at a theater?
VC: I'll just be clicking along doing this and that and all of a sudden it hits me again – people are going to be walking in the door with whatever expectations and we're going to put a beautiful plate in front of them. Once in a while I think, can we pull this off? But it's really happening. Our cook is smoking salmon and corning his own beef. We're buying plates. It's real.
WP: It sounds like you're going to have everything from European haute cuisine to Kansas City barbecue, all in Andes, New York. Is the market ready for you?
VC: We were debating whether or not we should really do this and finally said, let's put out some ads for a cook and see what we get – well, we got a couple. She bakes, and she's asked me to keep her resume quiet for now, but when people find out they'll be amazed. But her food alone – every morning she's handing me something new. Yesterday it was scones with cheddar, just awesome.
People seem excited. On the supply side, this area is loaded with wonderful resources. I've been meeting people at farmers' markets who've got two centuries of farming background in their families, gentle-spoken people who are artists in their own right.
And yes, we'll be a truly eclectic eatery, hopefully build a destination dining spot. I think it's going to be that good. The interior's beautiful – glowing buttercup yellow, a red room with high ceilings where we'll do our retail- we're going to offer take out- packaged salads, chutneys. For the opening, our cook will be doing some of his ribs, some thin-sliced smoky brisket.
WP: You're making me hungry.
VC: Well, come on up!
For more on Buttercup, including their hours, check out their Facebook page.
Correction: Buttercup the cat is male, not female, as is Buttercup's chef. This story has been corrected. -- Julia Reischel
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