Log Lunch with Peter Platt '80: Turning Passion into Profession: Owning and Running a Restaurant in the Berkshires

On a warm and sunny Friday, February 9, the Log Lunch community gathered for the first Log Lunch of the semester. With lots of new faces, the Log Lunch staff prepared a delicious New Mexican meal. With the menu spread including an experimental deep fried chile relleno, a Spanish rice blend, pico de gallo, mole with tofu, grilled corn salad with ingredients from Full Well Farm, and spicy red chili and cinnamon brownies, the new crew started off the semester by leaving everyone’s stomachs satisfied. The community also came to listen to Peter Platt, a Williams College class of 1980 history major, talk about his culinary journey and life as a chef, restaurateur, and inn owner.

Growing up along the North Shore of the Chicago area, Peter came to Williams with an established appreciation for food and cooking as a means of bringing people together. He remembers talking about different foods and dining experiences at the family dinner table, with specific attention to what made them good. However, going to Deerfield Academy and then Williams, he recognized the importance of local farming and food. He said that he was grateful for his Williams education, especially for the love that it gave him for this region, and he cited a few different educational and extracurricular experiences as foundational to his future career as a chef. He completed multiple food-related independent winter study projects, including accidentally enrolling in a new brides cooking course in England and an internship at the Parker House hotel in Boston, which eventually culminated in a jobcooking breakfast and lunch. He then moved up the ranks to evening cooking, where he worked with notable chefs who offered good mentorship and set examples for “how to behave and operate with intention as a chef.” After 5 years, he followed a  chef who got a job in Lenox, and has worked in the Berkshires ever since. He accepted the head chef position at the Old Inn at the Green in New Marlboro, which he has owned  17 years. At the Inn, his guiding philosophy has been to set the stage for meaningful, memorable experiences, even if it is less profitable than other ways of approaching the restaurant business.

Although local agriculture is not the entire source of food for the Inn, Peter views the contributions of local farmers as a pivotal part of his restaurant. He especially values seasonal products, saying that “when [they] get food from local farmers, [they] don’t try to recreate the carrot,” and instead highlight high-quality ingredients in their cooking. While owning and operating the Old Inn on the Green is a very intensive job, Peter  contributes to Berkshire Grown, working to promote local agriculture in a time where restaurants are increasingly incentivized to source more affordable food from elsewhere.