man and woman smiling outside on a sunny day
Matthew Robinson and Serena Kim at Swift House Inn, Middlebury, Vermont. Caleb Kenna Photography
two dogs on fall hiking trail
Elsa and Kubrick pause on the TAM in October 2020. Photo by Serena Kim

About Swift House Inn’s proprietors, Serena Kim and Matthew Robinson

Matthew and Serena met in Los Angeles in 2018. At that time, Matthew was a former executive at 20th Century Fox looking for his next gig. Serena was the editor-in-chief of a new magazine about Asian Americans in entertainment.

Forever passionate about restoring historic homes and exploring the best in food and wine, Matthew hit upon the idea of buying an inn in New England. Equally Serena had always fantasized about becoming a creative writer in a small New England town with a liberal arts college, so his idea didn’t seem so farfetched after all.

So Matthew hired an innbroker, and they shopped inns for a year. Swift House Inn in Middlebury was the ideal choice because of its proximity to Middlebury College and its prestigious Bread Loaf Writers Program. The town also offered a wealth of cultural amenities and progressive local politics.

Just as Matthew and Serena were about to pull the trigger on the purchase, the pandemic hit in full force, the inn was shut down, and their plans were delayed indefinitely. With heads hanging low, they returned to L.A. not sure of next steps. Ultimately, they decided to return to Vermont and summer at the inn until the deal went through in the fall of 2020. Along with their dogs, Elsa and Kubrick, the couple were quickly thrust headfirst into operations during the peak of Vermont’s legendary foliage season.

Now, Matthew spends his days running operations at the inn and plotting his next round of renovations, while Serena handles gardening and marketing. Of course she still finds time to write, especially about their new life in Vermont. Elsa and Kubrick work especially hard as canine concierges. Matthew and Serena were married on July 3, 2021 at Swift House Inn.

A smiling man folds his arms and looks out into the distance. He is standing on a green lawn. Red and yellow trees are in the distance.
Executive chef Rob Fenn is a Vermonter through and through. His family has owned Fenn Farm for eight generations. Photo by Serena Kim

Rob Fenn, Executive Chef at Jessica’s

Quiet, intense, and creative, Executive Chef Rob Fenn has cultivated an exquisite menu at Jessica’s at Swift House Inn featuring such delectable creations as juicy and succulent duck two ways, fresh and tender scallops with seasonal vegetables, and outstanding vegetarian pasta with oyster mushrooms and more. 

As a child, this native Vermonter was drawn to the warmth and the bustle of the family kitchen. Naturally gifted at a young age, he followed a recipe and baked an apple pie at the age of nine. He grew up on the land, foraging, gardening, and sourcing food locally long before it was a movement. 

In high school, Fenn had two great loves: cooking and snowboarding. But he yearned to know about the world beyond the Green Mountains, so after high school, he got a job as a young chef at the Mural Room, a prestigious, upscale restaurant in the Jackson Lake Lodge. Fenn honed his chops further at Snake River Grille in Jackson Hole. Eventually, he reached the level of head chef at the young age of 23 at Crescent Beach Restaurant in Lake Okoboji. 

Fenn decided to return to his home state at the age of 30. Chef Rob has been the cornerstone of Jessica’s at Swift House Inn for the past 11 years, conceptualizing the menu, sourcing local farm ingredients, and innovating with seasonal flavors along in a happy and hustling kitchen.

Laura Fenn, Mixologist

Laura Fenn started working in the restaurant industry with her first job at age 15, and was thrust into the world of mixology at age 18 when she suddenly needed to fill in as bartender at her place of work. She immediately fell in love with the art of crafting cocktails and has been sharing her talents ever since.

Laura’s unique gift is her understanding of flavor profiles and discovering what works best together through intuition and practice, with the goal of “creating drinks that make experiences.” Her seasonally-influenced specialty cocktail list is an essential part of dining at Jessica’s. Though her expertise lies in mixing flavors, Laura’s personal favorite drink is quite simple. “Vodka. Extra cold!” 

Laura is married to Executive Chef Rob Fenn. Their individual talents with flavor allow them to exchange ideas and help elevate each other’s drinks and dishes. Their talent as a team extends beyond the restaurant, the pair built their own house together! 

Laura’s contributions to Swift House Inn extend beyond cocktails; when Jessica’s was undergoing renovations in spring 2021, she reupholstered all of the chairs for the restaurant.

Laura is a multimedia artist. She has her own art studio at home, where she paints, makes jewelry, and more. She sees and creates art in everything. Her artistic spirit is evident in her drinks and in her whole being; talk to her at the bar and you’ll immediately understand. Laura’s bubbly personality and charming smile make visiting her for a drink an all-around wonderful experience.

A Vermont native, Fenn resides in the Middlebury area with her husband, two dogs, and kitty.

Bartender Laura Fenn offers an autumnal cocktail featuring apple cider and rum. Photo by Serena Kim