Proprietors Debbie Porter and Arthur Forgette bring not only their love for each other, but their lifelong passion for French cuisine and French wine to Lewisburg. Pursuing their dream of opening a French restaurant, they selected this area where Debbie has family ties, long steeped in the West Virginia hills. Arthur and Debbie combine his vast knowledge and 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry with Debbie’s New York marketing and sales background to open The French Goat. Simply said, it was time for them to get out of the hustle and bustle of the DC restaurant world and get to a less complicated life in this quaint little town that they have grown to love over the years.
Stephen Gustard was born to cook. Like many chefs before him, he started at a young age helping his mother and grandmother in the kitchen and as he got older his passion for food let him to his first restaurant job, working with his brother at Outback Steakhouse, where he developed his passion for food and the fast paced culinary industry. After moving on to work as a banquet cook at a hotel and conference center, he decided to pursue his formal education with Johnson and Wales University in Norfolk, Virginia.
During college, Stephen gained hands-on experience through working in numerous restaurants ranging from fine dining establishments to local diners. Despite an intense work schedule, Stephen graduated with a 3.96 GPA and was a member of the Presidential Leadership Council. Hard work, dedication and quality during a final internship at Pinehurst Golf Resort in North Carolina, opened the door for Stephen’s first position in the famed resort’s Tavern Bar & Grill as a line cook.
In 2001, Stephen was accepted into the prestigious culinary apprenticeship program at the historic Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV. Classically French trained by Certified Master Chef Peter Timmons, Stephen gained knowledge in all avenues of cooking from banquets, private parties, butchering, sauce production, charcuterie, traditional BBQ smoking, and many other cooking techniques and disciplines. Stephen finished the challenging program in three years, and upon graduation won several medals including five silver and one bronze, including a silver medal in the final hot food competition.
After graduation, Stephen moved to the shore at The Boca Bay Pass Club in Florida to work again with fresh regional fish and ingredients. Yet the beautiful West Virginia mountains called him back when Chef Jim Butchart, Executive Chef at The Greenbrier Sporting Club, recruited him to become the rounds chef at The Greenbrier Sporting Club Lodge in 2005.
Within a year Stephen was promoted to the position of Sous Chef, where he excelled in the creation and set-up of lavish banquet displays for the Sporting Club’s upscale clientele. Chef Butchart noted that “Stephen’s strong work ethic, patience in mentoring young cooks, and overall desire to please the guests, makes him the perfect choice to head the Sporting Club’s new Summit kitchen.”
Not long afterward Chef Gustard was named Chef de Cuisine at The Summit, and took on a project that opened up another educational avenue for Stephen and The Sporting Clubs culinary program. A good size plot of dirt was turned into a rotating garden that provided fresh picked vegetables for the Sporting Club kitchens and their members. Stephen said, “It is a chefs’ culinary dream to be able to walk right out of the kitchen door and into his personal garden and decide what to cook.” The Summit Garden was such a success with the members and chefs that another garden was unveiled in Spring 2009 at The Greenbrier Equestrian Center.
In 2010 Chef Stephen was promoted to the Executive Chef position at The Greenbrier Sporting Club Lodge and was very proud to be leading such a talented culinary team. With such an eager group of culinarians he was able to pursue new projects that keep expanding his culinary breadth and improving his style of cooking, while continuing to coach and mentor the new cooks and chefs that were on their own culinary journeys.
After 10 years at The Greenbrier Sporting Club Chef Gustard decided to make a change, and in late 2015 left to pursue other culinary options in a smaller venue. He is excited to be bringing his culinary excellence to The French Goat in Lewisburg, WV, where he will build on their reputation for wowing diners with amazing flavors and innovative dishes. He is most pleased to be working in this intimate venue and having the opportunity to display his culinary talents on a nightly basis with his “plats du jour” that are sure to please local diners as well as visitors to the area. He is eager to plant the gardens at The French Goat in the spring, and be able to walk out the door and again pick the freshest ingredients for the restaurant guests.
In his private time, he enjoys family time with his wife Lara and two sons Harker (4 years) and Colson (10 months). He has a true outdoor spirit and is well versed in mushroom foraging, growing shiitake and oyster mushrooms, securing local meats and gardening. He is also FDA approved to hermetically seal and enjoys canning the bounty of what the area has to offer for future use.