The Chef: Ken Wisneski and his New England Clam Chowder recipe

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From Staff Reports

The Chefs column highlights our local culinary masters. They share a recipe that has a lot of meaning to them and thankfully, how to make it. (Well at least most of it, sometimes secrets must remain that.) This month’s chef is … Ken Wisneski.

Ken’s Story

Downtown Senoia has always been a go-to place for so-called foodies, and it’s getting better and better! 

One contributor to this culinary boom is Chef Ken Wisneski of Senoia Plate. With more than 40 years of experience from Boston to New Orleans, Hilton Head and Atlanta, Chef Ken has made a name for himself in Senoia for his extravagant Charcuterie boards and smoked meats which can be sampled regularly at wine tastings at The Classic Market and a variety of businesses at Alive after Five. 

Ken was interested in food early in life and learned to make Polish dishes at his grandmother’s apron. With a brief stint as an Air Force chef, Ken went on to work at and run many restaurants and catering businesses across New England. A sports enthusiast and lover of golf, some of Ken’s favorite experiences include catering at the The Masters Tournament and RBC in Hilton Head.

Closer to home, Ken was the executive chef at the former Peachtree City Hotel and Conference Center . In addition to his current catering business, Ken works at Alo Farms developing custom recipes using their Aquaponics produce and fish, running cooking demonstrations, marketing the business and even some farming!

He likes to make people happy and has found his role as a chef to be a great way to do that. He’s an outgoing people person so adds the extra touch of storytelling and conversation to whatever he’s serving. One of Ken’s favorite opportunities is running cooking classes – for children’s groups, families and even as business team-building. If you want the best brisket in town, innovative Asian dishes, a Charcuterie board or anything else, reach out to Ken at [email protected] or 781-336-7881.

In honor of his Boston heritage and the weather turning cooler for Fall, Ken is sharing his winning recipe for New England Clam Chowder, or Chowdah as he would say!

New England Clam Chowder (Chowdah) 

6 servings

Ingredients 

4 slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
2 cups onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
4 cans minced clam, with juice
2 cups clam juice
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups heavy cream
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

Preparation

Place a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl and strain the 4 cans of minced clams, separating the meat from the juices. Save the juices.

In a 6-quart Dutch oven or pot, sauté bacon over medium-high heat until fat renders and the edges begin to crisp. Add onion and sauté until softened and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to low and add celery and flour, stirring constantly for 3 to 5 minutes to avoid lumps. Add black pepper, thyme, reserved clam juices plus additional 2 cups clam juice, diced potatoes, and bay leaf. Stir to incorporate. Cover and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add cream. Simmer for an additional 10 to 20 minutes until soup has thickened to your desired consistency.

Stir in reserved clam meat and cook for 2 to 4 more minutes.

Remove from heat and serve with oyster crackers.

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