(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – Well-known Berkshire chef Daire Rooney has landed at Allium Restaurant + Bar. Rooney is perhaps best known for her groundbreaking work as executive chef of the well-loved French bistro Brix Wine Bar in Pittsfield, Mass., where she managed the kitchen for four years. Since November, Rooney has been changing up the Allium menu and creating delicious dishes with a direction toward gastro-pub style focusing on seasonal ingredients.
Rooney is working on developing the Allium menu with more small plates and many healthy options to meet guests’ requests. In collaboration with Nancy Thomas, proprietor of the restaurant, she is developing menu ideas complementing an expanding cocktail and wine program. In January, with a cocktail focus on whisky, Rooney is creating a series of burger options including short rib and brisket burgers accompanied by bacon jam from local pork belly. In February, when the bar highlights vodkas and aquavit-based cocktails, the kitchen will feature smoked fish, oysters and raw, cured fish options. In addition to tie-ins to the cocktail program, Rooney also has plans for a series of wine and food pairing dinners.
“After leaving the area for two years, I realized that food culture and the trend towards sustainable agriculture in relationship to cooking is really happening in the Berkshires,” said Rooney. “I have wonderful relationships with farmers, chefs and the community and these ties are not to be taken for granted. There’s something special about what goes on here and I’m really glad to be back.”
Born and raised in New England, Rooney brings a breadth of knowledge to Allium with her many years of experience in kitchens across the East Coast. She began her restaurant career at the age of 12, starting out as a busser and dishwasher. She moved into the kitchen and continued to follow her passion. In 2000, Daire became the personal chef and head of household to actress Meryl Streep and family.
In 2006, Rooney planned and organized the opening of De La Vergne Restaurant as executive chef. She then took the position of executive chef at Brix Wine Bar, a 40-seat French bistro with an extensive wine list. In high season of 2010, she worked as catering chef with Mezze Catering + Events and in the fall of 2010, she moved to Georgia to take the position as lead cook at the Augusta National Golf Club, Home of the Masters Tournament, where she started the Greenhouse Program.
In addition to her restaurant and personal chef experience, Rooney has participated in dinners at the James Beard House and Outstanding in the Field, taught cooking classes for the Railroad Street Youth Project and Different Drummer’s Kitchen, and has served as a board member of Berkshire Grown, a nonprofit organization supporting local food and farms. She is passionate about using locally grown foods and heirloom ingredients and is excited to be working with our region’s farms and food producers.
A sample of Rooney’s menu can be found here.
On Friday, March 1, 2013, Rooney will be joining a group of Berkshire chefs at the James Beard House to present “The Berkshire Cure-All,” a dinner highlighting foods raised and produced in the Berkshire region in conjunction with The Red Lion Inn.