The Williamsburg Winery’s Newest Chef Returns to His Roots
The Williamsburg Winery’s new Chef de Cuisine is at home at Wessex Hundred.
A native New Yorker, Jake Wechsler moved to Williamsburg with his family at the age of 15 and graduated from Bruton High School in 2007. He later completed Colonial Williamsburg’s apprenticeship program in culinary arts and spent six years at Colonial Williamsburg Inn & Williamsburg Lodge. Three of Wechsler’s mentors are among the region’s most esteemed chefs — current Williamsburg Inn Chef Travis Brust, Chef Scott Watson, formerly Executive Sous Chef of the Williamsburg Inn, and world-renowned Chef Hans Schadler, who spent two decades as the executive chef and culinary director of the Colonial Williamsburg resorts.
Wechsler recalls previously visiting Wessex Hundred, the 320-acre farm that is home to the Winery, the Gabriel Archer Tavern and Wedmore Place.
“When we moved to Williamsburg, we came to the Tavern for lunch,” he said. “Then a couple of years later, two of my best friends got married at a ceremony at the Winery.”
The picturesque farm with spacious green space far removed from the rumble of everyday noise piqued Wechsler’s interest in the Chef de Cuisine position that allows moves him closer to his parents and extended family. Wechsler was last Executive Sous Chef at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
“This property has so much to offer that a lot of people don’t know about,” he said. “I love it.”
Wechsler will oversee all aspects of the Tavern and has revamped its dinner menu to include more seasonal offerings. He will handle special events there in addition to those at Wessex Hall and Westbury Hall, both larger venues on the property.
The Tavern now includes Wine Wednesdays, where patrons can enjoy Virginia’s finest oysters for just a buck-a-shuck all day long. New entrees include Pan Seared Sea Scallops, Sundried Tomato Risotto and a variety of specials, ranging from New York Strip with Purple Potato Puree, Green Curry Stir Fry with Shrimp and Maple Bacon Donuts.
“Simon Smith, VP of Food and Beverage, and I am delighted to welcome Jake back home to the Williamsburg area and to the Williamsburg Winery,” said its Founder Patrick Duffeler. “His enthusiasm for Wessex Hundred and his vast culinary expertise that embraces our farm-to-table approach will elevate our menu at the Gabriel Archer Tavern and our special events.”
Wechsler is pleased to be among familiar surroundings to begin a new chapter.
“It is different cooking in Williamsburg,” he said. “You have a lot of families and a lot of people who know each other. I got back down here from D.C., and within the first two hours, I ran into somebody I knew just randomly. You’re cooking for people you grew up with and started your career with. It’s special to come home and show Chef Schadler and Chef Travis Brust that I took the base they gave me and went out and did something. It’s more meaningful cooking in Williamsburg.
“At the country club, you’re cooking for the same people all the time, but it’s not family like it is here.”