Garden Party

Appears in the April 2019 issue.

Executive chef Victor Martinez extracts honey from a beehive at Oak Brook Hills Resort.

Oak Brook Hills Resort is putting an exclamation point on its multiyear, $25 million transformation with the introduction of Chicago-native Victor Martinez, who took over as executive chef in October. The culinary program now under his purview includes a farm-to-table dinner concept called B., the gastropub Tin Cup, as well as special event banquets and holiday brunches. Martinez’s commitment to seasonal menu diversity will be easier to execute due to a unique and substantial resort resource: 2,000 square feet of on-property garden space that includes dozens of beehives.

He and his staff (including 36 to 45 employees during the golf season) work with grounds crews to grow a wide variety of ingredients, including specialty herbs, vegetables, fruits, and greenery that will augment his flavor-focused philosophy. What isn’t grown on property will be sourced from 90 local farms that supply produce, poultry, beef, and dairy items to the golf resort.

“I see through ingredients, into their soul,” says Martinez. “Where they came from, what they’re intended to be. My cooking philosophy is to tell the ingredients’ story.”

Guests of the resort’s popular holiday brunches perhaps have the best seat in the Oak Brook Hills house to sample a wide variety of dishes influenced by Chef Martinez, including the resort’s Easter from the Chef’s Table event on Sunday, April 21. The elaborate brunch will include typical family favorites—pastries and an omelet station—plus elevated adult offerings like almond bisque with caramelized onions and lavender honey madeleines, or a brined and pan-seared chicken breast topped with toasted oats and a porcini demi-glace.

“The honey-smoked bone-in ham is my play on a Cuban sandwich,” admits Martinez, who will outfit that station with piles of caramelized onions, pickled cucumbers, spicy mustard, mango salsa, and pretzel rolls.

The family-friendly feast includes children’s activities, including a petting zoo. Tickets to either seating time—10 a.m. or 1 p.m.—are traditionally sold out in advance of the holiday. For details and tickets visit—MD