Bring on the buffets for Easter

2011-04-20T06:45:00Z Bring on the buffets for EasterDeb Holland Journal correspondent Rapid City Journal
April 20, 2011 6:45 am  • 

If you go away hungry from any of the many Easter buffets in the area, it’s your own fault.

Local chefs are offering everything from whole smoked salmon to down-home peach cobbler.

So what is it about Easter and amazing food fare?

“We try to have something for everyone,” said Ben Venables, executive chef at The Grille in Rapid City’s Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn.

The hotel uses all of its 14,000 square feet of meeting space to stage the annual Easter brunch. The food is offered at stations in the hotel’s atrium with the 60-foot waterfall as a backdrop.

The event attracts from 1,000 to 1,400 people spanning generations from toddlers to great-grandparents.

“Doing Easter dinner at one person’s house is a tremendous amount of work,” said Marci Reuter, assistant general manager at Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn. “They want to take the whole family and go somewhere.”

Reuter said she believes the brunch at The Grille is popular because it offers “action” stations where staff members make made-to-order omelets and waffles.

Venables said about 15 cooks and runners work the Easter event.

“Our omelets are very popular,” Venables said.

“People enjoy having something being prepared right in front of them.”

The Easter brunch is a several-week process for the hotel with specialty items being ordered weeks before Easter.

“We start setting it up on Thursday,” Venables said.

Going out after church services on Easter is a tradition for many families, said Dan Dobkin, executive chef at First Gold Hotel in Deadwood.

Dobkin has been building a better buffet for the past 13 years at First Gold.

“We keep the basics, like our baked ham, and change out a couple things each year,” he said.

This year, the First Gold buffet will feature Cajun tortellini in addition to ham, broasted chicken, prime rib, au gratin potatoes and more.

At First Gold, the restaurant closes at 10 a.m. after breakfast. It takes an hour to set up the special Easter buffet.

Dobkin said it’s difficult to choose, but his favorite item on the Easter buffet would probably be the handmade desserts.

Both First Gold and The Grille cater to youngsters attending the Easter buffet and brunch.

At The Grille, a short table is set up to make reaching favorite foods a little easier for the younger crowd. Among items on the kids table are classic macaroni and cheese, mini corn dogs, chocolate pudding and strawberry parfaits.

At the Enigma restaurant in the Radisson Hotel in Rapid City, executive chef Gunter Schnepp is offering leg of lamb, organic chicken cassoulet and all the trimmings, including deviled eggs.

Schnepp says he believes Easter is a time when people want to dress up in their finest and enjoy the change of seasons.

“After a long winter, people want to get out,” he said. “This is a chance to let someone else cook the meal and enjoy the rest of the day.”

Here are some recipes for your own buffet, courtesy of area chefs.

Apricot Honey Ham Glaze

1 cup apricot preserves 

1 cup honey

2 tablespoons cornstarch

6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Spoon glaze over ham and baste during last 30 minutes of cooking. Makes 2 cups.

— Gunter Schnepp, Enigma restaurant

Chicken Florentine

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 chicken breasts

2 cups fresh spinach

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon garlic, chopped


2 ounces butter

2 ounces flour

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup provolone cheese, shredded

Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste

Saute chicken breasts in olive oil over medium-high heat. When browned, turn over and reduce heat (cover if needed).

In a separate pan, melt the butter and add flour. Cook lightly without browning, then add the chicken stock and bring it to a simmer. Reduce heat and slowly add heavy cream while stirring continuously and bringing it back to a low simmer (do not boil). Add the provolone cheese and continue to stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce has a smooth texture. Season as needed with salt and white pepper.

When chicken has finished cooking, remove from pan and set aside. Saute spinach, tomatoes, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper in the pan until lightly cooked.

To finish, top the chicken breasts with the provolone cream sauce and the spinach mixture. Serve it with Tuscan Style New Potatoes and your favorite vegetables.

Serves six.

— Ben Venables, The Grille

Tuscan Style New Potatoes

2 pounds small red potatoes 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning mix

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Cut potatoes in half, then toss with all ingredients in a medium bowl. Place on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes. They should be crisp on the outside and soft in the center when done.

Serves six.

— Ben Venables, The Grille

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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