Local Chefs Talk Menus, Culinary Memories and Gastronomic Guilty Pleasures

Photography by Kelly Ann Shuler

When the work day is over, most of us turn off the part of our brains that handle our daily work tasks and don’t think about it again until the next morning. For chefs, this is not the case since food is a constant in all of our lives. So what do the exhausted head chefs of some of the midstate’s favorite eateries cook at home? Do they cook at all outside of the restaurant? How did they get their start in the culinary industry, what is their favorite food memory and do the chefs have a sweet tooth?

Chef Wesley Hellberg, Devon Seafood + Steak

“Recipes are guidelines.”

Favorite Food: Wings and beer, gummies
Favorite Childhood Meal: Spaetzle
Food Memories: Cooking with his grandmother
Describe Your Menu: Fresh, approachable, seafood
Dish to Cook at Home: Chicken Parmesan, pizza with his three sons
School Memory: Using an iron to make grilled cheeses and pancakes
Guilty Pleasure: Swedish fish, gummies, processed foods

Devon Seafood + Steak
27 W. Chocolate Avenue, Hershey
(717) 508-5460


Chef Robert Rothfus, Forklift & Palate

“Food is passion, for me.”

Favorite Food: Pasta (hand-crafted)
Favorite Childhood Meal: Spaghetti pie
Food Memories: Visiting the Central Market in Lancaster with his grandfather
Describe Your Menu: Eclectic, modern, clean lines
Dish to Cook at Home: Pasta
School Memory: Eating at the international kitchen
Guilty Pleasure: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Forklift & Palate
2913 Spooky Nook Road, Manheim
(717) 537-6205

Chef Doug Shenk, Vrai

“I love cooking with the
wood-fire oven.”

Favorite Food: Sushi, hard pretzels, beer
Favorite Childhood Meal: Lasagna, crepes
Food Memories: Eating his grandparent’s cooking
Describe Your Menu: Eclectic, fusion, organic
Dish to Cook at Home: Leftovers, anything that can be grilled
School Memory: Opening up and trying new food to find out that he loved sushi
Guilty Pleasure: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

1015 Market Street, Lemoyne
(717) 412-0067,

Chef Greg Dietrich, The Kitchen at HMAC

“It’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge that I love – to look at food in a different way.”

Favorite Food: Sushi – all of it
Favorite Childhood Meal: “Old German” food
Food Memories: Making pot pie and Pennsylvania Dutch favorites with his grandmother
Describe Your Menu: Seasonal, fresh, open to everybody (vegan, vegetarian friendly)
Dish to Cook at Home: Nothing. He doesn’t cook at home
School Memory: Taking any elective that had to do with cooking
Guilty Pleasure: Wendy’s Baconator

The Kitchen at HMAC
1110 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg
(717) 412-4342,