"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard
"There's no end to imagination in the kitchen." - Julia Child
I'm a firm believer that there's eating and then there's dining. Eating is a thing you do to keep going; it's a quick snack or a sandwich in the car. Dining is an event, an opportunity to savor food, to spend time with people you like to laugh with. It's enjoying a meal that isn't rushed, that's all about time well spent. In Tupper Lake, there's just such a place where you can do just this, where dining is an experience to enjoy. Cory and Lilian Rohrbach are the owners of Amado, a restaurant getting a reputation for fabulous food, including popular wine pairing dinners. As amazing as the food is — and it is — that is neither the beginning nor the end of the story.
An enthusiastically passionate chef, Cory has been in the food industry for more than 30 thirty years. He’s cooked all over the globe, including Europe and South America. Coworkers and friends he's made along the way, themselves from a variety of nations, have inspired and enriched his cooking through flavors and techniques they brought from home.
Cory and Lilian met in Brazil, which he made his way to after a few years in Germany. Lilian was an attorney, but also a natural food lover in a nation that's all about fresh ingredients, and her culinary talents soon came to the fore. The pair opened a restaurant together in the small, radiantly beautiful Brazilian beach town of Praia do Forte, known as one of Brazil’s prettiest beaches. The restaurant was a success, but the couple — along with their two children — eventually made their way back to the United States. After gigs at the Sands Casino in Pennsylvania and the High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid, the couple, who had made their home in Tupper Lake, created Amado. It's more than a restaurant.
Since opening, Cory and Lilian's work at Amado has proved popular with locals and travelers alike, not just because of the food but also because of them, of the space they have created that is relaxing, comforting, and welcoming. Cory and Lilian don't rush their customers; they want people to feel joy enjoying a meal. Dining, not eating. “The community has embraced us a lot,” Lilian says. “We are so blessed.” Cory is wonderfully, passionately enthusiastic about the restaurant, about food, about the experience that he and Lilian have created and continue to nurture. The atmosphere inside is warmly casual, not stuffy. And new in 2020, is an outdoor dining space that has been a bright spot for many visitors, as well as Cory and Lilian.
When the global pandemic forced us all to change the way we do things, Cory and Lilian were quick to adapt. They stepped up with a vision, worked hard, and the result is a charming, welcoming outdoor seating area that is unlike anything you will find in the US. A new courtyard was created where courtyard tables allow for open air, socially distant dining. The space is charming, full of elegant lanterns and beautiful landscaping. Wildflowers spring up in the bed along the sidewalk. The courtyard has nine tables and three greenhouses, which are swanky and cool private dining spaces. The greenhouses seat 6-10 people, have air conditioning and heat, and an Alexa, so guests can listen to their own music.
Cory and Lilian are independent, doing it all on their own. No corporation or financial guru in the background, just them, their hard work, their dreams of what they can achieve and create. For the new courtyard, aside from grading the land, Cory and Lilian did all of the work themselves over a span of six weeks. It feels like a sweet, casual cafe in Europe.
As Cory notes, “All of our business decisions are based on the experience being created.” The courtyard is no exception, a way for the Rohrbachs to continue to offer a meal at Amado as an experience, a treat.
Time and again, it resonates with me that this is not just a job for the Rohrbachs, or some kind of clock in, clock out place. It may not be their home in the ordinary sense, but it feels like something special. “This is our life. We live it, we breathe it," Cory says.
Lilian is just as passionate and enthusiastic as Cory, especially when it comes to the future. “When it’s time to grow, you grow. We cannot stop. I need to go forward, challenge ourselves.” She believes in the restaurant, believes in herself and in Cory. The courtyard project has been a success and unexpectedly gave Cory and Lilian a sunny bonus: more time outside in the fresh air and sunshine, something they usually miss out on in the summer.
Of the menu, the food itself, Cory puts it brilliantly: “The food is all of those experiences.” It’s styles, techniques, and influences from around the globe, people they have met and worked with, places they have lived. There’s Brazil in the food, the tropics, Morocco, China, and Italy. Cory and Lilian take their time to perfect recipes and nothing is on the menu until it’s perfect. There’s a craft to this food that you won’t find everywhere. The risotto is famous. The menu is swoon-worthy. The pot pie floater is so noteworthy it got a spread in Adirondack Life. The attention to detail, the time and love that goes into the food is inspiring.
A conversation with Cory and Lilian ranges on a variety of topics related to food: inspiration, culinary history, the care taken with refining a recipe, the wonders of fresh ingredients, and the role that food plays in our lives. As Cory notes, so much of life is spent over food, from weddings to business deals to everyday family meals. The Rohrbachs have a wonderful way of reminding you that a meal isn’t just something you consume because you have to, it’s an event. At Amado, a meal is about trying new things or variations on something you think you know. It’s about relaxing in the fresh air while having lively conversations, sharing a mellow bottle of wine, and enjoying every moment of a leisurely meal made with love.
Amado is the sort of place where you should go with your favorite people, where eating isn’t about just another meal. It’s about going on a journey through food, through a moment where you linger and offer your friends a bite of your meal because it really is so good that you need to share it.
Cory shares that “everything we do at the restaurant is about creating an experience." At Amado, a culinary experience is what you'll get.