Hotel Covington, the hotel on Madison Avenue that is built on a sense of place, has hired a new chef. He grew up down the road in Hebron, learned his chops at local restaurants in the Boca Restaurant Group, and cooked in New Orleans and Cajun country before returning home.
Mitch Arens is the new executive chef of Hotel Covington, which means he’s overseeing Coppin’s Restaurant, the walk-up window in the alley, the coffee bar, the Courtyard and all the private functions at the hotel.
After training at Sullivan University, Arens helped open Nada, then was sous chef at Boca. He moved to Louisiana in 2010, where he learned the down-to-earth art of Cajun cooking on a friend’s farm and restaurant just outside Lafayette, then worked with Donald Link in New Orleans at Calcasieu. He was most recently executive chef at Cochon Butcher.
He’s been in the kitchen in Covington for a few weeks now, working on a new menu that reflects the hotel’s dedication to a sense of place, local ingredients and suppliers and his own experiences and tastes.
“The cool thing about Coppin’s, the owner’s original concept, is what he called ‘NoSo,’ for North and South,” Arens said. “We’re in a unique spot right here in Northern Kentucky. We’re not the Midwest, but not everyone thinks of us as the South, either.”
He’ll be using local ingredients and finding ways to reflect local culture. He’ll have plenty of nods to Southern dishes, such as a catfish crusted in blue corn, as well as dishes like a chicken liver mousse crostini with a touch of peanut butter and jelly; an Elysian Fields lamb belly with fregola sarda, charred rapini, harissa and mint; and a poached lobster with carrot butter, lemon-tarragon vinaigrette and pea tendrils
He has maintained contact with his New Orleans seafood purveyo,r who will supply him with fresh Gulf shrimp and crabs. He’s also working on themes for the walk-up window, and ways to make it more friendly and accessible.