Chef Dorinda Smith

If you stop by the Lodge in the middle of the afternoon, you’ll likely encounter some delicious aromas as you walk in the front door. Many days your nose will detect the sharp aroma of garlic, or the fresh scent of rosemary and basil just snipped from the herb garden in back. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll get to settle down in the dining room and experience a beautiful dinner prepared by the Lodge’s new chef, Dorinda Smith. We are so excited that Chef Dorinda has joined our team and we can’t wait for you to get to know her.

Food has been a part of Dorinda’s life from the very beginning. One of her grandmothers ran a restaurant, another grandmother catered, and an uncle owned and operated an upscale bar and grill. “In our family, you started working in the kitchen as soon as you were old enough.” She spent about 17 years in the culinary industry. For a season, she left the culinary world and spent 15 years in ministry to at-risk families, though her love for cooking was never that far away. Part of the ministry was to feed people, so of course, cooking was a significant part of her ministry work as well.

About four years ago, she invited some friends to her home for dinner one evening. Her guests came in the door tired, exhausted from the grind of daily life. “They were weary and I think they probably came out of obligation as friends. As they sat around the table and I began to serve them courses, I could hear them begin to talk and then begin to have great conversation with one another. As the evening went on there was laughter and maybe even a few tears as they shared stories of life and family and work. By the time dessert was served, it was as if everyone’s energy had been renewed. They’d given a few hours of their time, but something magical happened around the table that evening. It confirmed that knowing in my heart that magic happens around the dinner table.” It was that wonderful evening that sparked her dream to get back into the culinary field.

When it comes to food, Dorinda’s background and passion is Italian fine dining. Coming to the Lodge is redefining that a bit. Historically, Lodge guests have enjoyed many comfort foods served at meal times. Dorinda hopes to keep that feeling of comfort, but infuse it with a fresh approach. She is developing a “Rustic Chic” menu to reflect the cuisine of the Midwest, while incorporating different flavors and fresher ingredients. Her goal is “delicious comfort food with a touch of sophistication.” Dorinda also hopes to eventually offer menu items that still satisfy the need for comfort foods but with a healthy emphasis; meals with great flavor that guests can feel good about.
Creating all of this deliciousness requires creativity and a commitment to constant learning and discovery. One of the ways she stays creative is having a “cook for fun” day, either on her own, or with friends. She also teaches cooking workshops occasionally and finds that the interaction with people in the workshop setting is a great way to spark conversation about food and new, creative approaches. She reads and researches all the time, sometimes online, and sometimes by checking books out of the library. Dorinda enjoys not only studying cooking itself, but the science behind food as well. She believes there’s always something new to learn. “You can talk to a grandmother who’s been in the kitchen all of her life and she will share something with you that you didn’t know, even as a professional chef. One of the things every one of us has in common is that we must eat and we were created to enjoy it! So many people enjoy the process of cooking there’s always opportunity to learn something new and grow and share.”

For Dorinda personally, cooking is therapeutic. “The perfect afternoon for me? Turn on the music, tie on the apron and get lost in creating beautiful food.”

At the end of the day, Dorinda knows that cooking is really all about the heart. “I believe that when you put a plate of beautiful, delicious food in front of somebody, it honors them as a person. What really touches my heart, and what sparks the heart of every chef, is giving our guests a dining experience that makes them feel special.”
Dorinda lives in Quincy with her husband Shawn and family. She has five children, ages 7-29, and one grandson. In her free time she loves to find a quiet spot to read, enjoys a good movie and treasures time with her family.

We are thrilled that Dorinda has joined the Sprague’s Kinderhook Lodge team and look forward to sharing a beautiful meal with you soon!