WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williams Inn is looking toward the future with the addition of chef Daniel Jackson and the return of Sunday brunch.
"We got into this industry because we like to make people happy. So let's do that even though we are up against a pandemic," Cory Amman, the inn's director of sales said. "I think chef Dan has that same passion and desire ... I think he is passionate about people loving food and making that creation for them."
Jackson, who moved back to the area this summer, has more than 25 years of culinary experience. He most recently was a private chef for a former U.S. ambassador. His assignments brought him to exclusive destinations throughout the United States, where he planned and executed a wide range of events for dignitaries and celebrities.
He has been an executive chef at various luxury resorts and inns located throughout the Northeast and the state of Florida, including the Woodstock Inn & Resort in Woodstock, Vt., and the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort in Longboat Key, Fla. Jackson holds an associate of occupational studies degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America.
"I came back to the area and was really looking to do something in the area," Jackson said. "This position came up, and it was perfect ... I have been in Williamstown many times in my life, and I really like this area. It was the perfect opportunity at the perfect time."
Jackson will coordinate, supervise and direct all activities of the culinary department at the inn and its restaurant, the Barn Kitchen and Bar.
General manager Kevin Hurley said Jackson resonated with the Williams Inn management team during the hiring process.
"With everything and the pandemic going on, we were very fortunate to get a very interesting group of resumes. Obviously, finding a great chef is a critical position in our growth strategy and we felt really lucky," he said. "With Dan's connection to the area and everything he has touched in his career ... really made him stand out ... so we are happy to have him."
With Jackson comes the return of Sunday brunches at the Williams Inn, kicking off in earnest on Feb. 7, Super Bowl Sunday.
"It is a very interesting menu. We have a lot of eggs Benedict-style dishes, a stuffed brioche, French toast with blueberry maple syrup," he said. "It is a nice menu, and I think the local clientele really needed a place to go to have brunch on a Sunday so we decided to target this as my first little project."
The Williams Inn is still open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Capacity is limited to meet COVID-19 regulations. Jackson said he has already made some changes to the menu that mixes regional American with Thai, Japanese, and even Jamaican dishes.
"The menu needed something right away so I was able to make a few initial changes ... when we get into the spring menu, I have it pretty much set, it is going to be exciting," he said. "The freshest ingredients I can find, local ingredients, simply prepared. Tastes and textures are really important and just the elegance of the presentation."
He plans to phase in more dishes as time goes on.
Amman said as new items are phased into the menu, the restaurant will also make changes and continue to adapt to post-COVID-19 world.
"We have been through so much negativity, and I think if we are not optimistic and we are not positive we will just stay in this same realm of negativity," he said. "So as a restaurant and a leader in the community I think it is important to put that optimism out there. Restaurants and hospitality have learned so much in the past year in how to be flexible."
Jackson said he is thankful for a management team that has allowed him to tinker with the menu and build his small kitchen team.
He also has an interest in education and upon moving back to the region, took a job at a vocational school. He said he reconnected with teaching the culinary arts and some of his former students are already on his hire list.
"Not only am I passionate about food, but I am passionate about teaching ... and teaching young people how to cook," he said. "My whole philosophy in the kitchen is to be a team leader and I am glad to be able to put that team together."
Amman said there is real excitement in the community about Jackson, and he thinks he will raise the level of all area restaurants.
"People are still a little nervous about dining in a restaurant but the positive feedback has been amazing. I think everybody is waiting to see what we are going to do next," he said. "With Dan's background, there is a sense of excitement of what he brings to the community ... I think he is going to bring this restaurant to a level that people have not seen before."
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The board of the town's Affordable Housing Trust on Wednesday decided to move ahead with an emergency mortgage assistance program for residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, approved a solution for a problem vexing a different town committee and learned that one of its members will be rotating off after May's town election.
The board member in question is Anne O'Connor, who made her colleagues on that panel the first to learn that she will not seek another three-year term on the Select Board this spring.
O'Connor, who occupies the trustee position designated for a member of the Select Board, noted that she brings a particular perspective to her work with the trust and all her town service: that of a resident who is a lifelong renter and who lives in Williamstown housing that was created to be affordable.
"Hopefully, I've also brought some reflections and useful comments as much as possible," O'Connor said.
The chair of the town's committee on diversity, equity and inclusion Monday reported to his colleagues that he had a long conversation with the town's acting chief of police and that future dialogues between the committee and Police Department are planned.
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Select Board Chair Jane Patton noted that an interim town manager would have the authority to appoint an interim police chief, presumably with the same community input that was anticipated when outgoing Town Manager Jason Hoch was heading the search.
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At one point, Hart pointed to the college's statements in the wake of the killing of George Floyd last May, but said those statements, like many others nationwide, ultimately ring hollow.
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