A Middleboro restaurant that is developing its own legacy is ready to take the next step in its evolution by bringing in the former executive chef from an iconic Wareham eatery.

The Charred Oak Tavern announced on Facebook Sunday that it has hired a new executive chef, one who spent the past decade in the same capacity at the legendary Lindsey’s Family Restaurant.

“We’d like to introduce a new addition to our team. Someone that will truly elevate The Charred Oak Tavern as a whole, but also take us back to a time that will seem as though the pandemic was never even a reality,” the restaurant posted. “David Veronneau, Executive Chef, has chosen The Charred Oak Tavern as his second home, just like many of you have.”

Charred Oak said the restaurant ownership is “proud and blessed” to have Veronneau on board, and he told WBSM that he’s equally as excited.

“I can’t wait to show Middleboro some new twists on some seafood, something I’ve been doing my entire life,” Veronneau said. “And I’m really happy to be working more with steaks. I love that, I love cooking meat.”

Charred Oak also posted that there will be “another menu change at some point in the next coming months.”

“We really think this one will ‘hit home’ (hint: throwback),” the restaurant posted. “And also some new dishes that are not only delicious but innovative.”

Innovation is the name of the for Veronneau, and he’s had a lifetime of experiences working with food to develop those ideas. Yet just a little more than a month ago, he found himself at an unexpected crossroads.

Courtesy Dave Veronneau
Courtesy Dave Veronneau

Veronneau, who lives in Fairhaven with his wife and two young children, would have celebrated 10 years at Lindsey’s next month, but the restaurant abruptly closed back in November.

“Without a doubt, it was definitely unexpected,” he said. “When I was working there, I had all my eggs in one basket. I devoted all my time there, I had goals working there for the future, and I planned on retiring there. I put everything into that place.”

Veronneau said he interviewed at a lot of places in the weeks since Lindsey’s closed, before meeting with the owners of The Charred Oak Tavern and realizing he’d found his new home, and his new work family.

“The owners are a lot of the reason why I decided to go there,” Veronneau said. “Once I sat with them and had a cup of coffee, after a few minutes, it just started to feel so familiar. You feel like you know them. They’re great people, and I got a good vibe from them.’

He said one of his biggest goals is to get Charred Oak back to where it was pre-COVID, when it was hosting whiskey dinners and tastings, and that he really wants to help expand the catering side of the business.

“One of my passions is catering. I really want to build that there,” he said. “I saw all of the growth and potential, and just being a fan of the place as well as wanting to work there, it all fit.”

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Veronneau grew up in the restaurant industry, with his uncle owning multiple restaurants, as well as both of his parents.

As young as eight years old, he was helping out at one of his uncle’s establishments, the Seafood Market of Fairhaven, wrapping salt and pepper packets with a knife and fork and putting them in the fish-and-chips bag, or putting cellophane wrap around the stuffed quahogs.

Five years later, he was walking over from Hastings Middle School to his uncle’s other location where West Marine is now, frying up seafood. Then when his uncle opened up Bob’s Place, a ‘50s-style diner, he went to work over there.

Veronneau later went to work for his father when he opened Wings, the restaurant that was in the New Bedford Regional Airport.

From there, he studied culinary at Bristol Community College and finished first in his class, and went on to study at Johnson & Wales while still working for his uncle and his father. At the same time, his mother moved down to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands and opened up a restaurant down there.

After college, Veronneau went to work at Cedars, the steakhouse at Foxwoods, which also allowed him to work in some of the other restaurants there as well.

“I loved working there. You could work as much as you wanted, and I took that opportunity to learn a lot of different things, working at the different restaurants and their catering kitchen,” he said. “It was kind of like getting paid to go to more culinary school.”

From there, Veronneau had stints at Davey’s Locker and Mattapoisett Chowder House, getting a chance to become the executive chef of the latter at just 25 years old.

He then spent some time working at his mother’s restaurant in St. Thomas, filling in for her chef, who had to have surgery. He ended up moving down there for a while, working at places like the legendary Shipwreck Tavern and gaining valuable experience in new styles of cuisine.

Veronneau returned to the SouthCoast for his father’s funeral, and that prompted him to move back home and return to work at Davey’s Locker. There, he created the tiki hut, having guys come up from Jamaica to build it so that it would be authentic and also be able to sustain the elements.

“We created a beautiful situation there, and the next year, we grew it even more,” he said.

However, eventually his relationship with the owner of Davey’s Locker became strained and he decided it was time to move on. Veronneau then became a consultant for restaurants, including opening the Salty Cod Restaurant.

Veronneau then began working with his brother on Paleo Naturals, a paleo food company that grew by leaps and bounds and went from working out of a garage to supplying product for hundreds of GNC locations and other natural food stores.

Veronneau also took a stab at having his own place, the Bay View Cafe in Berkley, for a while. He then had a stint as the executive chef at Barrett’s Alehouse before going back to help his brother bring Paleo Naturals to the next level.

“We went from $5,000 per week in sales to $75-80,000 per week,” he said.

Courtesy Dave Veronneau
Courtesy Dave Veronneau

His heart was in preparing meals for the public, though, and that led him to apply for the executive chef position at Lindsey’s.

“Basically, it was leaked to me that the job would be opening up, so I applied,” he said. “After 16 hours of interviewing, (owner Cheri Lindsey) decided to give me a shot.”

Courtesy Dave Veronneau
Courtesy Dave Veronneau

Veronneau feels that all of those experiences have led up to his new position at The Charred Oak Tavern, and bringing it to even greater heights.

“(It’s) my new home, my new baby, and I can’t wait to put my little stamp on it,” he said. “I know that place has a really good reputation, and it should. I'd like to just keep running with great food and show them a few things, and grow with them.”

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