Chef James Welch’s Chocolate Beef Tenderloin from Chefs of the Mountains by John E. Batchelor

If you haven’t had enough chocolate (is that possible, even after Halloween?), it’s the perfect time for chocolate beef tenderloin. Does that sound crazy? It’s not.

Straight from Chef James Welch at the Green Park Inn in Blowing Rock, N.C., longtime food critic John E. Batchelor shares the recipe (and the chef’s story) in his new book Chefs of the Mountains: Restaurants & Recipes from Western North Carolina. Here’s the scoop:


“Daddy, give me a kiss.”

Chefs work late hours. By the time they arrive home, the rest of the family has usually gone to bed. Chef James Welch often crossed paths with his daughters, Deanna and Melissa, as he was getting ready to leave for work in the afternoon and they were coming home from school. Their “give me a kiss” ritual grew out of those encounters. The “kisses” were Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses, some of which he always carried in the pocket of his chef’s jacket. The little exchanges became part of their father-daughter ritual.

Late one night, after the staff had broken down the kitchen, James was sitting in the bar eating a steak. He was also sipping espresso, and the complementary blend of the two flavors struck him. Toward the end of the meal, he reached into his pocket on impulse and took out his last remaining Kiss. Restaurant kitchens are hot, and the Kiss had partially melted. Rather than throwing it away, he squeezed what he could out of the wrapper and ate it with his last sip of espresso. Chocolate and espresso: the flavors are a classic match. James wondered, if chocolate matches espresso, and espresso goes well with beef, what about some combination of all three?

Chocolate Kisses turned out to be far too sweet. But after several experiments, James settled on the combination he now uses, as specified in one of the recipes below.

James served the dish at a cystic fibrosis fundraising dinner in Charlotte. At the end of the evening, eight chefs were introduced, along with the dishes they had prepared. When the creator of the “Chocolate Steak” was announced, he received the only standing ovation from the crowd, as well as applause from the other chefs.


Chocolate Beef Tenderloin

Serves 6

1 quart heavy cream
¼ ounce espresso grounds
1 cup sugar
2 ounces Baileys Irish Cream
6 7-ounce beef tenderloins
2 ounces fresh coffee grounds
6 ½-ounce pieces bittersweet chocolate

To create sauce, combine cream, espresso grounds, and sugar. Simmer 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove from stove. Stir in Baileys Irish Cream.

Roll tenderloins in coffee grounds. Grill to desired doneness; approximately 7 minutes per inch per side for medium, 5 minutes for medium rare. Cut a slice into center of each tenderloin and insert ½ ounce chocolate.

Place beef tenderloin in center of plate. Pour ½ ounce Baileys sauce over tenderloin. Serve with Au Gratin Potatoes and French Green Beans (find Chef Welch’s recipes for these in Chefs of the Mountains).


If you try the recipe, let us know what you think!


Pear salad from Chefs of the Mountains

Before we get started, I want to take a moment to introduce myself. I’m the newest addition at John F. Blair, Publisher, and so thrilled to be involved with such a creative and talented team. Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, I moved to Tampa, Florida, three years ago to study poetry as a graduate student. I then attended the Denver Publishing Institute where I met Carolyn Sakowski, President of John F. Blair. She has lots of Southern sass, and I instantly fell in love with the prospect of working for her. Now, as the new Sales and Marketing Intern, I’m learning a lot about the publishing industry and getting more familiar with our many great titles.

And as fall approaches (a season I haven’t experienced in a while), I’ve gotten really excited about John F. Blair’s new cookbook Chefs of the Mountains.

Because I’m new to North Carolina (only four weeks in) and have yet to explore the state’s great sights and sounds, Chefs of the Mountains is the perfect introduction. The book travels through North Carolina’s mountain towns, spotlighting great restaurants, chefs, and recipes. Whether a native or a newbie to North Carolina, readers can explore the best of the mountains right in their own kitchen. This weekend I experienced The Table at Crestwood in Boone, NC, through Chef Matthew Barlowe’s recipe for Port-Poached Pear Salad with Gorgonzola, Pecans, and Lemon Vinaigrette.


¼ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic, small dice
1 teaspoon shallots, small dice
1 teaspoon minced parsley
¾ cup canola oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a non-reactive bowl, mix lemon juice, garlic, shallots, and parsley together. While whisking mixture, slowly drizzle in canola oil until emulsified. Add salt and pepper. If prepared in advance, mixture may separate. If it does, just whisk until re-emulsified.

Salad dressing with ingredients

I’ve always been a big proponent of homemade salad dressing. The ingredients are few, the time minimal, but the payoff always big. Our local grocery store was out of shallots so I used green onions instead. Nonetheless, the lemon vinaigrette (seen on the right in a jar) had a great tangy flavor enhanced by garlic, parsley, and green onion.

Pear Salad

2 cups port wine
2 cups water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 sticks cinnamon
2 pears, cored, peeled, and quartered

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and place on high heat until mixture comes to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until pears become fork-tender. Remove from heat and chill pears in cooking liquid.

Ingredients for port-poached pears

Poaching the pears in port wine was my favorite part of the recipe; the scent of cinnamon port filled my house. Like making the salad dressing, the process was easy: quartering the pears, combining all the ingredients in a saucepan, and letting them simmer until the smell was irresistible.

Poaching pears

To Present

1 pound mesclun greens
4 tablespoons chopped pecans
4 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese crumbles

Toss greens in vinaigrette and place them on plates. Top each salad with 1 tablespoon each of pecans and Gorgonzola crumbles. Strain pears from cooking liquid and place to the side on plates.


Once the pears cooled, I tossed the salad in lemon vinaigrette, added gorgonzola and blackberries, and devoured. Since I’m not a huge fan of nuts, I left out the pecans and was happy to find the salad was amazing without. The pear’s sweetness perfectly combined with the dressing’s tartness. The verdict: an excellent dinner salad that can be made ahead of time and consumed for days. I will definitely return to this recipe often!

John Batchelor will be signing books at the Chefs of the Mountains launch event tomorrow evening.

Thursday, October 4 at 7 p.m.
with Chef Nate Curtis of Rowland’s at Westglow

Barnes & Noble
Friendly Shopping Center
3102 Northline Avenue
Greensboro, NC 24708
Phone: 336-854-4200

John Batchelor is holding several events across North Carolina with chefs highlighted in the book. For more information, please visit our events page.

Why we’re excited about our fall titles (and why you should be, too!)

Some of our fall titles have been getting some press in the aftermath of Book Expo America, so we thought we’d share a preview of what’s to come. We’re excited to bring these books to you this autumn, and here’s why, in our own words:

The Politics of Barbecue
A novel by Blake Fontenay
September 2012

From editor Steve Kirk: Seriocomic. There’s a word that hasn’t come to mind in a while–probably because quality novels in the mold of Fontenay’s Politics of Barbecue are few and far between. A serial arsonist wants to burn down Memphis. An up-and-coming “producer” would turn it into the porno capital of the East. A beef mogul would steal one of its best assets–a new barbecue museum–for his own hometown. The mayor doesn’t care what happens as long as graft flows into the pockets of his quilt-patched overalls. All of this leaves a pair of Wiffle ball-playing slackers as the last best hope for saving a city that’s equal parts eyesore and landmark. Joining forces with a more-than-she-seems starlet and a crossbow-toting billionaire bum, they set Memphis on its first baby steps toward renewal.

With all that going on, it’s no wonder that Library Journal included The Politics of Barbecue in their Editor’s Picks from Book Expo America 2012.

Woody Durham: A Tar Heel Voice
Woody Durham with Adam Lucas
September 2012

From Debbie Hampton, design and production director: Leave it to sentimental me to get all teary while reading Woody Durham: A Tar Heel Voice—a voice inked to my idyllic youth in a family of Tar Heel fans. As a 15-year-old, I had a Carolina-blue room with one wall dedicated to the Tar Heel player I had a crush on—with his pictures and a big ol’ 13, his number.  When not actually in Chapel Hill at the games, my family and I were glued to the TV. It was yours truly jumping and screaming among the men in the family, who would sit there stoically, trying to hear. Men—how can they just sit there?

Reading Woody Durham: A Tar Heel Voice brought back all of those memories. Immediately, I recalled the sound of Woody’s voice doing the play-by-play (of course, the men in my family never heard it). It sent me straight to YouTube to recount some of those heart-pounding moments set to the tune of Woody’s voice. Even though I later married an N.C. State grad and “converted,” I could still recall the names of the faces in the photos of players from the ’60s and ’70s. Yes, I’m giving away my age. There will be many Tar Heel fans reminiscing with this book, which for me was a scrapbook of fond memories and sounds.

Losing My Sister
A memoir by Judy Goldman
October 2012

From Brooke Csuka, publicist: I have two and a half sisters. No, really. I have an older half-sister from my father’s first marriage, and he ended up with three girls once he married my mother.  Ballet practice, Disney princesses, dress-up shoes–then teenage jealousy, competition–you name it, we shared it. So when it comes to sisters, you can call me an expert.

I think that’s why Judy Goldman’s Losing My Sister speaks to me the way it does. Beyond being a beautifully written memoir that flows like poetry–the author is a poet, after all–it’s just so true.  Along with the joy, the humor, and the fun of sisterhood comes the agony of loss and heartache of illness, and Goldman captures it beautifully as she and her sister, Brenda, deal with the deaths of their parents to Alzheimer’s and cancer and then Brenda’s own sickness. Even Publishers Weekly agrees: “Goldman beautifully renders the complexity of sibling relationships with candidness, tenderness, and sorrow…[her] book speaks to the human ability to forgive and attain a measure of peace amid loss.” As Jenny Lawson says, this book “made me hug my family a little bit closer.”

So You Think You Know Antietam? The Stories Behind America’s Bloodiest Day
James and Suzanne Gindlesperger
September 2012

From Katie Saintsing, editorial assistant: When I was a kid, my parents took my brothers and me to Boston; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia: places rich with American history. A book like So You Think You Know Antietam? would have been an excellent resource to have on these family vacations. James and Suzanne Gindlesperger have told the story of the battle of Antietam in an interesting and accessible way, and with its color photos, maps, and GPS coordinates, the book makes a great companion on trips to the battlefield. So You Think You Know Antietam? guides readers to each of the battlefield’s monuments and explains who the markers are for, but it also illuminates the most engaging details of the battle: Readers will find out who the “Red Legged Devils,” the “Black Devils,” and the “Jackass Battery,” were, what a “witness tree” is, and who the youngest casualty from either army was. I found the story about Colonel John B. Gordon to be one of the most interesting. Gordon was wounded five times and fell forward with his face pressed into his hat, which rapidly filled with blood. It was a hole shot through the hat that saved him from drowning in his own blood, and Gordon went on to become governor of Georgia.

On a recent trip up through Virginia, my mother took every sign for a Civil War site (and there are a lot of those on the highway in Virginia) as an opportunity to say how much she’d like to go on a tour of all the Civil War battlefields. I think So You Think You Know Antietam? (as well as the authors’ earlier book, So You Think You Know Gettysburg?) might be just the thing to help her to start planning her trip.

Chefs of the Mountains: Restaurants and Recipes from Western North Carolina
John E. Batchelor
October 2012

From Margaret Couch, accounts payable: I’ve always wanted to revisit the mountains of North Carolina for a vacation. My husband and I are celebrating a significant wedding anniversary this year, and since we actually honeymooned in the mountains, we thought it was the perfect opportunity for another visit. Commemorating special occasions always requires food, so naturally I looked at Chefs of the Mountains by John Batchelor as a good resource for restaurants while vacationing. There are so many restaurants with fascinating stories about the chefs that it will be difficult to narrow it down to just one. But since the restaurants are organized by locale, I just need to decide what town to visit. There are lots of restaurants in Blowing Rock and some of them have hotels or inns attached—same with Asheville. There are also featured chefs and restaurants in Boone, Valle Crucis, Banner Elk, Linville, Spruce Pine, and Hot Springs. I guess it won’t matter which place we plan to visit because there will definitely be a great restaurant wherever we choose to go. Now I just need to make a decision!

Check back later this summer–we’ll start previewing titles from our distributed presses.