Raleigh, N.C. — Dean Thompson has a secret and it is pretty sweet. The executive chef of 41Hundred at the Renaissance Hotel in North Hills is the only person who can make the restaurant's famous hot cheesecake.
"The hot cheesecake recipe was given to me by the previous chef," Thompson said. "It was a recipe handed down to him and he was not allowed to give it out until that chef died."
After the previous chef moved on to a corporate position, he shared the recipe with Thompson.
"I hold that kind of near and dear to my heart. It was a very important thing to him that I do not pass it along to anybody until he is gone. I’m the only one who knows it. I make it whenever we need it, early in the morning so nobody sees it," Thompson said.
The Cary native and two-time Got to Be NC Competition Dining champion chef knew the cheesecake would be one of few items to make the cut when the hotel changed the restaurant's concept and name to 41Hundred. Flights, the previous concept, was a more formal, with its eye on special occasion dining and hotel guests, but the new concept is casual with a focus on shareable plates.
The hotel underwent a major renovation starting late last year. The most extensive work was done in the restaurant and lounge.
"They completely ripped out the bar and extended the ceiling across to create more 1,200 square feet above it," Thompson said of the new event space.
The bar was moved across the room and seating was added, in addition to plug-ins so diners can charge their devices. The dining room was redone with a patio, outdoor theme complete with string lights and green "grass" turf.
41Hundred, a callback to the hotel's address at 4100 Main at North Hills Street, features a mix of small plates, entrees and salads with a global cuisine focus. Menu items include Oxtail Poutine, Tuna Poke and Roasted Cauliflower and Artichokes served with Baba ganoush, olives and harissa.
There is also a local focus with locally sourced ice cream on the dessert menu and a host of North Carolina craft beers on tap including Bombshell, White Street, Aviator, Big Boss, Carolina Brewery and Fullsteam.
"Coming from the area, I've got deep roots here. I want to represent things I love," Thompson said.
41Hundred serves breakfast buffet style and a la carte, in addition to lunch and dinner.