Firewater Tavern Culinary Team Earns Honors At Lowell Winterfest
Chef Kevin McGuire of the Firewater Tavern shows off the two awards the restaurant received at the recent Lowell WinterFest.
But when the public and a team of experts honor your work as being the best -- well, that's pretty nice, too.
Last month, Chef Kevin McGuire represented Wamesit Lanes' Firewater Tavern at the Lowell Winterfest North Bowl Soup Competition. McGuire brought with him an original creation -- Chicken Pot Pie Soup. Festival-goers and the event judges were overwhelmed by the soup and honored McGuire with both the Culinary Award from the judges and the People's Choice Award.
What is even more remarkable about the achievement is that due to its late entry into the contest, the Firewater Tavern and McGuire's amazing soup were not listed on the ballot for any of the awards. Anyone wanting to vote for the Chicken Pot Pie Soup had to take the time to enter a "Write-in" vote.
McGuire has a deep pedigree when it comes to culinary skills, He has trained under some of the finest chefs in Eastern Mass. and earned his degree in Culinary Arts from Newbury College. But his training actually began much earlier, as a child, growing up in a large Irish family in Lowell.
"My mother loved to cook, my grandfather loved to cook, and I loved to help out," he said. "And being Irish, soups were always a big part of the menu. I learned a lot helping them."
McGuire has worked at different restaurants and private clubs but Firewater Tavern offered him the unique opportunity to be the founding chef for a restaurant.
"I've been with them since the beginning (in November)," he said. "It's good to have the chance to build a place from the soil up. It's pretty cool to open a place. It's a lot of work and it's still an ongoing project."
As head chef, McGuire manages a kitchen team of around 30 employees. They are responsible, not only for the menu of the Firewater Tavern, but also for the Wamesit Lanes snack bar and any functions hosted by the facility.
"It's a good group of people, a hard-working group of people," he said.
The menu at Firewater Tavern continues to evolve. McGuire and his team keep a close watch on how certain dishes are received by the customers and determine what's working and what's not.
McGuire would also like to see the menu develop a seasonal flavor, partnering with local farms to provide "farm to table" dishes where possible.
But McGuire is also looking to establish certain items on the menu that customers associate with the Firewater Tavern, items that they come to the restaurant for, specifically.
"That's what makes a restaurant, I think. When people want to go back there and say, 'I'm looking forward to having this (dish)," said McGuire.
And for McGuire, the list of 'must-have' items starts with exceptional soups.
"It starts with the stock. You've got to have good stock," he said. "But I also believe that if you're going to charge for your soups, you have to put enough in them, You have to have enough chicken or enough clams in your clam chowder."
People have become familiar with Firewater Tavern as the restaurant attached to Wamesit Lanes. But with each passing week, McGuire and his team are building the reputation of Firewater Tavern and making into a destination dining experience all its own.
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