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Mar 13, 201309:22 AMFood & Dining

Tasty Tidbits and Food For Thought

Veteran Chef Honors the Fundamentals of His Profession

Mar 13, 2013 - 09:22 AM
Veteran Chef Honors the Fundamentals of His Profession

Photography By Ali Waxman

You cannot always tell a book by its cover. However, in this case, the unadorned façade of the Hershey Road Family Restaurant betrays the nature of the food that is served within and the people responsible for it. That would be the Levy family, headed by owner and chef Scott Levy.

“Consistency is the key to success in the culinary business,” says Levy. “Good food is hot, moist and well-seasoned.”

The 50-year-old Brooklyn native knows very well of what he speaks.

The white livery that he wears is not just for appearances. It represents years of education and experience in haute cuisine, as well as diner fare.

“I came to the profession a little late,” he says.

“While working for a steakhouse in Vail, Col., I developed a passion for cooking and wanted to obtain the proper instruction. I trained at the Dolder Grand in Zurich, Switzerland, The Williamsburg Inn and Jenny Lake Lodge in Grand Teton, Wyo. After that, I pursued an apprenticeship that led me to Hotel Hershey. At 27, I was accepted into the program, which entailed three years and 6,000 hours. There were about 500 applicants and only seven were selected. Eighteen-hour days were common. But I loved the professional environment. Everything had to be done properly.”

Levy met his wife, Jackie, at the hotel, where she was also employed. She is a valuable partner in the restaurant, along with their son, Jack.

Levy spent five years at the iconic Baker’s Diner in Dillsburg. It was good preparation, and it is reflected in the entrée choices at his Hershey Road Restaurant.

“I bounce ideas off Jackie and listen to her suggestions for the food and other facets of the business,” he says. “My son is in the hospitality curriculum at HACC and is our IT person.”

Levy points to several flat-screen monitors on the walls that display rolling photos of menu dishes. “Jack is responsible for that.”

Like most professions, the culinary one demands that its practitioners stay current. Levy’s initial training was conducive to five-star hotels like Hershey. But cooking for a family restaurant involved retraining. To that end, Levy spent five years at the iconic Baker’s Diner in Dillsburg. It was good preparation, and it is reflected in the entrée choices at his Hershey Road Restaurant.

“The focus is on local,” says Levy. “Our location, just off the Route 39 exit of I-81, means that we get a lot of tourists going to Hershey. But they come and go. The local patrons are our main business. The menu needs to accommodate them.”

And it does. Included are such Pennsylvania favorites as ham loaf, chicken croquettes, roast turkey, pork and sauerkraut over mashed potatoes, shepherd’s pie and stuffed peppers. And for breakfast, sausage gravy over biscuits and creamed chipped beef on toast.

“Good food is a big part of the business,” says Levy. “But the patrons’ dining experience is important, too. The service and the atmosphere count for a lot.” The soft lighting and muted earth tones of the interior and the staff’s garb all help to meet that objective.

“I want to see the same people in here,” says Levy. “I want them to say, ‘Hey, let’s go to Scott and Jackie’s for dinner.’ If I’m not in the kitchen, I’m out front talking with the patrons. Training other people allows me to do that, to work more on the business and not in it.”

Levy is a Certified Executive Chef. He is past president of the Harrisburg Chapter, American Culinary Federation.

Learn more at hersheyrdfamilyrestaurant.com.

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