Trilogy’s Top Chefs: Ten Questions for Chef Bilstad
Welcome to the “Trilogy’s Top Chefs” series in Trilogy Life Magazine, through which we’ll highlight some of the incredibly talented chefs leading the culinary teams at the Trilogy communities. Our first article in this series featured Chef Randy Lutz of Trilogy at The Vineyards; the second article featured Chef Charles Weber of Trilogy at Monarch Dunes; and the third article in the Top Chefs series featured Chef Nathaniel Cooper of Trilogy at Tehaleh.
Chef Scott Bilstad is a Virginia native and a veteran of the United States Armed Forces, having served in the United States Navy in Yokosuka, Japan. While in the service, Chef received an advanced certification from The Culinary Institute of America in Greystone, California, and as the Admiral’s culinary specialist he toured over 12 different countries, catering to diplomatic officials and embarked flag officers.
After Asia, Scott made his way back to Virginia, cooking at Keswick Hall at Monticello. While working at this iconic 4-star, 48-room country mansion, he was promoted to sous chef. He then went on to work and stage for top chef masters: Chef Michael Schlow at 606 Congress St. in Boston and Chef Art Smith at Art and Soul in D.C.
It was back in our nation’s capital where Scott learned to sustain and preserve food to enhance flavor, and where he found his love of locally farmed ingredients. He now incorporates his very atypical approach to wholesome and diverse “food you know” into every dish at Region’s 117.
Get to know more about Chef Scott Bilstad through our “Ten Questions for the Chef” segment, below.
My first job when I turned 16 was at Captain D’s Seafood, which was where it all began, first washing dishes, then as the fish fry cook. I liked the pressure in the kitchen; it was like playing a sport. When I joined the Navy and became a culinary specialist, I began to cook from scratch and the desire for more food knowledge grew.
2.) How would you describe your cooking style or your culinary point of view?
I cook modern comfort food, making use of the season’s freshest ingredients with atypical southern flare. It is my belief that Southern food is the only regional cuisine in America.
3.) Which chefs has most inspired/influenced you during your career?
My greatest influences in the kitchen have been Chef Michael Schlow and Chef Art Smith. I have worked for both of these talented chefs in my career, and learning their very distinctive styles and their low and slow preparation of food has influenced my cooking methods.
4.) What are your favorite ingredients to work with?
My fab five for ingredients would have to include swine, apples, oysters, garlic, and salt.
5.) What is your favorite tool or piece of equipment in your kitchen?
I would definitely say my chef knives, and a close second would be a smoker.
6.) If you could have any meal prepared for you tonight, by any chef in the world, what meal would you choose, and who would prepare it?
I would have Quail and Waffles, prepared by Mississippi’s big bad chef John Currence.
7.) Since many of our Trilogy Members love to pair wine with their favorite meals, what are your favorites wines to enjoy with dinner?
Two of my favorites are from Williamsburg Winery. I would recommend Governor’s White (American Riesling) and Two Shilling Red (Table Red). Both are excellent buys for value and flavor and are very versatile.
8.) What is the best piece of advice you would give to aspiring home chefs who are nervous about stretching out of their cooking comfort zone?
Read lots of cookbooks, and most of all, don’t be afraid to fail.
9.) What is your favorite event that you’ve hosted at Trilogy at Lake Frederick so far?
I’ve really enjoyed the wine maker dinners because of the interaction with Members. I also love any opportunity to venture out and be creative, and the wine maker dinners give me this opportunity.
10.) Can you give us a teaser of some of the culinary events or programs that the Trilogy at Lake Frederick Members can look forward to in the coming months?
We will continue with more wine maker dinners, and will also start hosting beer dinners. I’m looking forward to developing a local pig program with one of the top farmers in the nation, so the Members may be hearing about that soon. I also hope to prepare an oyster bar for the Members on occasion. I’m looking forward to many more culinary events and programs now that Region’s 117 is open to the Members.
Thank you to Chef Scott Bilstad for sharing a bit about his kitchen and his culinary perspective!
Watch for the next article in the “Trilogy’s Top Chefs” series, which will be published later this season!