Hand crafting almost every dish that comes out of a kitchen can be a lot of work and it has to be a labor of love. For Chef Charles Wilburn, it is a process that he wouldn’t have any other way. Wilburn is the Executive Chef and a partner in the Poolville Country Store in Poolville, about a 10 minute drive from the village of Hamilton.
Chef Charles is a native of Mexico, the one in Oswego County, and has been working in the kitchen since the age of 7. His grandmother owned a restaurant in Cato and he started there and has been working in the business ever since. He took his first head cook job at the age of 16 and decided to keep going and further his studies in the field of cooking. Wilburn stayed local and attended the culinary program at Onondaga Community College before moving on to one of the best culinary programs in the world at Johnson and Wales University.
After graduation Charles got he feet wet in several locations including a stint as a private chef in the Arctic Circle! Of course this is a field that can take you anywhere and Wilburn took full advantage of that working at the historic Dorset Inn in Dorset Vermont. Locally we got very lucky when he decided to move back to Central New York working at the Hamilton Inn, before deciding to help reopen the Poolville Country Store with fellow Chef Roger Foster six years ago.
Wilburn has very high standards and he hand makes 100% of what you see on your plate when you sit in the dining room. He also believes in sourcing as much as he can locally, going so far as raising his own chickens, and growing his own gardens to make sure that he is staying true to those roots. The menu he creates changes seasonally and recently he just released a new fall menu for the restaurant to celebrate the culinary bounty available here in Central New York.
Charles is having the most fun in the kitchen when working with his soups. You can tell a lot about a chef by trying their soups, and Charles loves the ability to be creative in putting flavors together that will please the palette of the customers that make the trip to visit the restaurant. The other thing you will never find in Charles’s kitchen is a box of pasta. Every last bit of pasta that comes out of the kitchen is hand made to order, and Charles takes great pride in his pastas.
You can visit the Poolville Country Store and see for yourself the dedication and love that comes out of the kitchen Wednesday-Sunday with dinner beginning at 5 each night. They are open for Sunday brunch as well.