Woody Isaac, Executive Chef, is no stranger to Poplar Springs Inn & Spa. Under the previous ownership of the property, Woody worked in the kitchen creating meals along with Howard Foer. In July of 2015, Woody joined the new Poplar Springs Inn & Spa team and has initiated creative, unique cuisine for our guests at The Manor House Restaurant to experience.
It’s no wonder he has enticed many repeat customers to dine with us. “I have worked in restaurants since I was about 17 years old. Overall, I have about 13 years of experience in the hospitality industry,” shares Chef Woody.
When asked what he feels is important to know about him, “I am a Fauquier County native. I grew up here, went to school here, and have worked here for many years. Fauquier County residents and visitors to the county deserve a getaway spot that is not hours away, but feels like it is. That’s Poplar Springs.” Chef Woody is correct, The Manor House Restaurant and Poplar Springs Inn & Spa are such a short distance from Warrenton – only about 10 minutes!
“I love being creative with my cooking. New and exciting food is always appealing,” says Chef Woody. “I love sourcing locally and giving back to the local economy. Additionally, I enjoy teaching and mentoring young chefs.”
He also plays an important role here at Poplar Springs as he interacts with guests and feels that “attention to detail is the most important thing” and that “everyone should be treated as if they are a VIP”. One piece of advice he readily shares, “You need to be ready for anything that is thrown your way. Everyone is different and people have varying needs. Being accommodating is important, especially for those with special dietary restrictions or allergies.”
The top priority here at Poplar Springs is to provide patrons with a unique experience and Chef Woody agrees, “Producing an unforgettable dining experience coupled with an amazing stay at the Inn or treatment at the Spa is what we are all about. My team and I maintain a level of consistency so you know what to expect each and every visit. Our attention to detail is so important for not only our customers, but for the expectations we have set for our team.”
The Manor House Restaurant’s menu offers Chef Woody’s signature dish. It is one Woody’s favorites. He explains, “On our current menu, I have to say the Shrimp and Grits is my favorite as well as the Tuna Nicoise appetizer, and our Duo of Beef that features an Espresso Cacao crusted short rib..”
From all his experience, Chef Woody excels in preparing and tantalizing guests with amazing meals no matter the size of the party – from small to large, the results are divine. He says that the most important thing to remember when preparing meals for a wedding or corporate gathering, is “consistency.” Woody describes, “Once again, success is attributed to attention to detail. You have to be in tune with your guests and know exactly what they want. Weddings especially are a very important and a memorable day for the bride and groom, as well as their family and guests.”
Poplar Springs is embarking on a new project that will benefit not only entire culinary team but also our patrons. “We are currently designing and implementing a Poplar Springs vegetable and herb garden. We are looking to feature heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, a variety of herbs, strawberries, lettuce varieties and more. With all this on the property, we can utilize the freshest ingredients possible for your enjoyment,” describes Chef Woody. “Our spring menu has launched and features new and exciting dishes in our kitchen. We are also planning a farm to table dinner that will be held at Whiffletree Farm. We are teaming up with Jesse Straight and some other local farms and wineries to create a local farm to table dinner with wine pairing.”
Poplar Springs Executive Chef Woody was asked who was the person that influenced him the most. He says, “I really hate to say one person. I have worked with so many good people over the years – Eric Smith, Kevin Kilhefner, Dan Vosler, and Milton Piper just to name a few. Good chefs are getting harder and harder to find because of the intense demand of the business. But those chefs I named all have great skills and passion for food. They have creativity and talent- that’s what it takes to succeed in this business. I am fortunate enough to have learned from them and they were willing to share and teach.”
If you are an aspiring chef, Woody provides advice, “Work in a restaurant for a minimum of 6 months, if not longer before you decide to go to culinary school. Ensure you enjoy this type of work prior to enrolling. Working as a professional chef is not like what you see on television. It is a demanding, challenging career path. Unlike other professions, you will work weekends and holidays. This is why you have to truly love the culinary field.”
When Woody is not in the kitchen at Poplar Springs, he enjoys sports, playing poker with friends and even cooking at home! When he isn’t spending time with his family, you can often find him playing basketball, hiking to the river or going to concerts.
Poplar Springs is delighted to have Woody as our Executive Chef and look forward to sharing all his magnificent delights with you. For reservations to The Manor House Restaurant, please call 540-788-4600 or visit our website.