Chef Douglas Olsen noticed something about visitors coming into Blue Ridge, Ga., for vacation. It was apparent to him that once people settled into their cabin, they didn't want to get again and get whatever was needed to cook a meal.
As a retiree and transplant to the area, he was looking for something to do and he found it.
Utilizing his experience in the food service industry as well as his culinary training, he established Cabin Cuisine
, a personal chef service. The concept would be simple, he would personally come to the cabin and prepare a four-course gourmet meal based on the guests' selections
. Every detail would be covered, down to the linens for the table and flowers as the centerpiece.
And 11 years later, Chef Douglas ("just call me chef") chuckles as he admits he thought this would be a hobby, not a business. However, that admission doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy what he is doing, because he does and his favorite part is interacting with people.
He also takes great pride and enjoyment in planning his menu
. Based on what is available in season, the menu changes about three to four times a year. Again,
it's all about simplicity, creativity and tastiness.
"I give myself an hour to prepare all of the courses," says Chef Douglas. "I bring everything that I need with me to the site. I use the minimum number ofingredients for each dish, because it is just me. I don't have a support staff. On the website, I keep the descriptions simple as well so that people can understand what they are getting."
He uses as much local ingredients as possible, many of those ingredients come from his own farm in nearby Morganton. What he doesn't have, he sources from local farmers because as he says, "I like to support the community."
Some of his creations include appetizers like trout tartine with local goat cheese, smoked trout, apple wood cured bacon and honey from his farm. The Asian Pot Stickers appetizer takes barbecue to an entirely different level.
"Barbecue in the mountains, how much more local can you get, right? However, when you put barbecue on a plate, it looks like barbecue on a plate. I use wontons to dress it up."
Then there are his (Almost) Famous crab cakes, offered as both an appetizer and an entree, which has a story behind its name.
"When I was first starting this business, I had a lady from Maryland, who was coming down to Blue Ridge, call and inquire about my crab cakes. I explained to her where I sourced the crab and how I prepared it. Still unsure, I told her that if she didn't like them, they would be free. However, if she did like them, she would have to come up with a name for them."
"She liked them and came up with the name 'Almost Famous crab cakes.' I neglected to ask her what could I have done to make them famous."
Other dishes include chicken California with steamed veggies, local mountain trout with cinnamon dusted sweet potato spears and much more. There are also vegetarian options and salad choices as well.
Then there is the most important part of the meal - the dessert. Chef Douglas doesn't disappoint in this aspect, either. Selections include everything from a hot
fudge cake to seasonal fruit crisp to local apple bread pudding to fresh fruit and fresh berry sorbet, using fruit from his own farm; and more.
He is also a published author with his cookbook
, "Gourmet Dining at Home...Fast."
"The recipes in the cookbook are what I have prepared over the years. I would come home and realize I had to make dinner. I used what was available in the pantry and the refrigerator."
He adds the recipes are his version of classic recipes, and are fairly easy and simple to cook.
"I don't use anything unfamiliar or complicated machinery."
Broken down into nine sections, he covers everything from appetizers to desserts, including side dishes. Be sure to check out and try his hot fudge cake recipe
photos: (top left) Chef Douglas Olsen, (top right) trout tartine, (middle left) "Almost Famous" crab cake, (bottom right) local apple bread pudding