I have been meaning to have dinner at the Twisted Fork for quite some time, but for whatever reason, I just hadn’t made it there.

Owner and Executive Chef Jay Powell is often mentioned when locals talk about Worcester’s best chefs. Since his huge personality usually comes up in that same conversation too, my expectations were quite high. With all the hype, I went in expecting greatness.

The Twisted Fork is located beyond Worcester’s city limits in a quiet town with an idyllic-sounding moniker: Cherry Valley. If you are not looking for it, you most definitely would drive right by it.

Inside the restaurant, there is an open dining room with casual decor and a few booths along the wall. That is pretty much where usual ends.

Before we were seated, Chef Jay engaged our group and treated us to some of his personal cooking philosophy. He explained how he uses locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. He also described growing many more ingredients in his garden. Then he explained the meticulous preparation and planning that goes into creating the dishes featured on his menu.

To start our dining experience, Chef Jay treated us all to an amazing pork taco. This freshly roasted full pig was on display as we walked into the restaurant. The tender, smoky pork was paired with a spicy cole slaw. And, at every table, there was an order of freshly made bread set next to sweet olive oil and garlic.

For an appetizer, we ordered the Sriracha Shrimp, which was a huge portion of plump fresh shrimp perfectly prepared in a spicy Sriracha sauce with homemade blue cheese dipping sauce on the side. The blue cheese provided just the right amount of coolness to balance the spicy dish.

I began my meal with a Caesar Salad served with a tangy dressing in a handmade Parmesan bowl. During his intro, Chef Jay described that as the salad is being made each Parmesan bowl is made-to-order, a process that he has perfected over time.

Reviewing the menu, I was torn since so many items looked great. I finally decided on the Neapolitan Eggplant Parmigiana. The tender eggplant slices were stacked high and topped with fresh mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, and a rich, flavorful red sauce. Sweet olive oil, roasted garlic and spicy flavors were prevalent in each bite. The dish was a excellent.

Chef Jay’s wife Nancy provided all the service we needed. She easily handled our large, excited table. She was very helpful at explaining menu options, offering excellent wine pairing suggestions, and bringing a great smile and comfortable feeling to the evening.

Chef Jay and his entire team left nothing to chance. By sharing his process, I was able to fully appreciate the meal. Growing his own ingredients, sourcing other ingredients, and paying meticulous attention to detail as each meal is handcrafted and prepared shows how much Chef Jay loves his job. There is no way to describe my experience other than to say, “Bravo!”