NH Restaurant Week is March 20-27

CONCORD – Those huge piles of snow are finally diminishing to some extent, and area residents are taking some furtive peeks out their doors. Cabin fever is rife in the area, and the only real cure is a trip out to a local restaurant.

Well, the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association has just the thing you’re looking for. The organization will be launching its 4th Annual Restaurant Week New Hampshire, March 20-27. For eight days, participating restaurants will be offering special menu items with various pricing options, some including a prix-fixe, three-course lunch or dinner menu.

The festivities start off at Tuscan Kitchen, in Salem, where the Restaurant Week New Hampshire Kickoff Event will be held from 6-8 p.m. Thursday. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., so patrons will have a chance to taste food and spirits from the celebrity chefs and sponsors. Additionally, seven chefs have been chosen to represent their respective restaurants.

First off, there’s Joe Brenner, the executive chef at Tuscan Kitchen in Salem. As culinary director for Todd English, Brenner helped open 14 restaurants in the 16 years he was with the group. Growing up surrounded by food fresh from the garden on his grandfather’s farm in Connecticut, Chef Brenner learned the basics of scratch cooking from spending time in the kitchen with his grandmother and aunts.

Malik Hammond, culinary director for the Common Man family of restaurants, oversees all kitchen operations, chefs, menu creation and food events. After spending a number of years in New Mexico, Hammond signed on as Kitchen Manager for the Lakehouse Grille in 2013, and was promoted to Culinary Director in 2014.

Chef Rob DeFrancesco runs the Copper Door Restaurant in Bedford. Francesco studied at Memorial High School in Manchester, and started working at Cactus Jack’s Great West Grill in 2000 as a line cook. In 2011, he relocated to Copper Door as sous chef, and moved up the ranks, becoming executive sous chef.

David Masotta is executive chef at the Three Chimneys Inn in Durham. Having graduated from Johnson and Wales and then pursuing his career at Boston’s Four Seasons Hotel and the Landmark Inn, he acquired his own restaurant, “Rutabagas,” located in Salem, which he ran for over seven years.

Peter Agostinelli is executive chef at the Bedford Village Inn. Agostinelli boasts two decades of experience in eight restaurants. Graduating from Newbury College with a Culinary Arts Degree in 1998, he continues to impress with his philosophy of using local ingredients.

Kevin Halligan is owner and executive chef of Local Eatery in Laconia. Situated in the Laconia Train Station on Veterans Square, which offers meals made from local, organic produce and grass-fed meat and poultry.

Scott Ouellette is chef/owner of three restaurants – O Steaks & Seafood in Concord and Laconia, Canoe Restaurant & Tavern in Center Harbor, and a catering and banquet facility in Moultonborough. Ouelette has a background in commercial finance, but always fostered a love for cooking.

Find a complete list of all of the participating restaurants, as well as other information on the organization’s website, at www.restaurantweeknh.com.

Eric Stanway can be reached at Eric.Stanway@yahoo.com.