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Looking for a fall foodie adventure? Plan a day trip to luxury Waynesville retreat The Swag
By Maria McHale

Inspired by local ingredients, renowned Chef Jake Schmidt brings out crisp flavors of fall

On a breezy afternoon at The Swag, visitors can sip from a cool craft beer from local brewery Hi-Wire while watching the culinary team sort a rainbow of fresh vegetables from local farms.

swag food

Not only is it a pleasant ambience, but the fresh produce also will be transformed into the artfully presented menu at the on-site fine dining restaurant. “Farm-to-table” isn’t just a trendy marketing term for the cuisine – it’s a way of life at The Swag.

The Swag offers guests a peaceful environment to rest, relax and rejuvenate, whether just enjoying an evening out or staying overnight on vacation. Located on a secluded mountaintop outside Waynesville, North Carolina, the resort offers a host of amenities including steam showers, spa treatments, guided outdoor activities, stunning vista views and of course the elevated food experience.

At the center of the culinary creations are Executive Chef Jake Schmidt and his team of culinarians. Experienced and sophisticated with more than 20 years of experience, Schmidt has embraced the opportunity to work with what nature provides at The Swag, which is newly owned by Annie and David Colquitt of Knoxville, Tennessee.

“It’s not about what I do for them,” Schmidt said. “It’s what we do for each other. They give me the ultimate freedom – it’s like a dream.”

chef jake schmidt
Chef Jake Schmidt doing what he loves best.

Ingredients for meals are locally sourced, with Ivy Creek Family Farm in Barnardsville and Dennis Sutton, Iron Duff Farms and Christopher Farms from Waynesville supporting the resort throughout the season. Trips to the Saturday market in North Asheville provide fall specialties like foraged mushrooms, perfectly sweetened fruits and local cheeses. Fresh chard, lettuce, kale, carrots and beets will be used in both craft cocktails and savory dishes.

Brining is a Swag staple, and every Thursday brings such delights as slowly smoked pork belly that’s been traditionally prepared Asian Char Siu marinade or homemade pastrami edged with a proprietary seasoning blend and prepared over the course of two weeks.

The dinner menu is planned ahead for each week, offering fresh and hearty options alike as fall approaches. This week, diners delighted in courses such as an earthy Moroccan chickpea stew and an herbed pork tenderloin garnished with late season heirloom tomatoes.

Seasonal cooking starts with strategic discussions each year about what ingredients will be freshest based on the weather and input from suppliers. When planning menus, the team is inspired by everything from seasonal themes to raw ingredients on the table to flavors tasted halfway around the world.

“We want our guests to fully experience the flavor of everything this region has to offer, presented at its best,” Schmidt said. “And the recipes are always fresh and evolving. We put love in the details and add creative, modern twists to make diners stop and savor what’s on the plate.”

Prior to heading the team at The Swag, Schmidt led a fast-paced team of talented chefs and cooks as the Executive Chef at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville. Starting as the Chef de Cuisine at Blue Ridge Artisanal Buffet, his work ethic and ability to learn and adapt shot him to the top in less than four years.

For more information on The Swag, you may visit

Published October 11, 2018

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