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December 3, 2020
Greenfield Restaurant & Bar: Plates Fit for a Presidential Palate
From its sunlight-drenched dining room–dusk’s golden rays reflecting off the black lacquer of a grand piano–to its intimately candlelit wine cellar, Greenfield Restaurant & Bar clearly has a story to tell. And while this 1700’s era farmhouse has withstood centuries of its own history, its elegantly adorned walls illustrate a more recent family narrative: that of the Moellers.
Chef John Moeller and his wife Suryati acquired what was previously The Greenfield Inn in 2018. It seemed the perfect place to fulfill their vision of providing an extraordinary epicurean experience for guests; one that honored the building’s history and reflected Chef Moeller’s thirteen year tenure as a White House chef, but also imparted all the warmth a family business has to offer.
These elements were unmistakably present from the moment we arrived for our tasting. From start to finish, Zachary Moeller (John and Suryati’s son and Greenfield’s general manager) was cordially attentive–even taking it upon himself to pour us a glass of Deloach Chardonnay–a wine that pairs well with our forthcoming seafood dish due to its minerality, he explained.
We were served two dishes that were an inarguable representation of Chef Moeller’s extensive mastery in the kitchen: the first, flawlessly pan-seared Georges Bank sea scallops nestled in a pillowy cloud of corn risotto, topped with velvety wild mushrooms and bacon, then finished with a drizzle of lemon butter sauce. For dessert, a refreshing and decadent lemon curd tart in a crumbly sugar crust topped with fresh berries and a smear of raspberry coulis.
Plates like these don’t become impossibly delicious through some magical, by-chance preparation–they earn their delectability through years of trial and error performed by their creators. Chef Moeller is no stranger to this process; he’s been engaging in it since 1975, when he first buttoned up his chef’s whites at Franklin & Marshall College.
After completing technical culinary training in highschool and receiving his formal gastronomic education at Johnson & Wales University, the bright-eyed cook would make a life altering decision. “I said, one day, I’m going to buy a one-way ticket to Europe, put a backpack on, and see what happens.” He remembers. This courageous leap of faith would lead him to Paris, where he’d cook alongside some of the world’s most prestigious French chefs. “It was ever-changing for me,” he recalls, his eyes illuminated with nostalgia.
It was exactly this experience, plus a bit of luck and networking, that would land Chef Moeller in the White House kitchen. Just a few years after his move back to the states in 1987, he’d been cooking across Washington DC (and courting wife Suryati!) when he received a call from a French chef he’d recently befriended. “I’m up for the chef position,” he explained, “and I need a sous-chef. Would you be interested?”
For thirteen years, Chef Moeller served to the “pleasure of the President”, from lavish banquets to late-night pancake cravings. It was a monumental career opportunity that would eventually inspire him to write the award-winning memoir/cookbook hybrid: Dining at the White House: From the President’s Table to Yours.
It was family that drew Chef Moeller back to Lancaster in 2010; a circumstance that truly brought his journey full-circle. What a better way to honor this remarkable adventure than to bring back everything he’d learned, along with his family, to the place he was born and raised?
“Greenfield has a long history of tradition,” he explains. The Moellers couldn’t be more thrilled to continue celebrating this legacy, and sharing their story with hungry guests.