Whichever region you are in, Virginia has an impressive culinary scene, with dozens of notable chefs creating inspired dishes from locally sourced ingredients that bring together the best of the Commonwealth's flavors in unique, delicious ways. To showcase the best food in Virginia, we spoke to a few of these chefs, from the award-winning seasoned professionals to the rising stars who have garnered attention in national and even international publications. Follow our "Inside the Kitchen" series as we take a look at all that Eat.Drink.LOVE has to offer in Virginia!
Located in the historic Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia, Alewife serves Mid-Atlantic Seafood and celebrates the coastal waters of the Mid-Atlantic region with conservation and sustainability in mind.
Photo Credit: Lee Gregory
Alewife's Chef, Lee Gregory, is a three-time semi-finalist of the James Beard Foundation Award for Mid-Atlantic Best Chef and StarChef Rising Star. Although raised in South Carolina, Chef Gregory has a long culinary history in Virginia, working for five years under Chef Dale Reitzer at Acacia in Richmond before moving to Six Burner, then Mockingbird in Staunton and Blue Light Grill in Charlottesville. Lee returned to Richmond in 2011 to open The Roosevelt in Church Hill, where he was part owner and executive chef from 2011-2018. In 2014, he helped open Bon Air favorite, Southbound, where he is currently co-owner and chef. Alewife is Lee & # 39; s first solo venture.
Want to know more about Alewife and Chef Gregory? Read on to learn about some of his chef secrets, followed by one of Chef Gregory's favorite recipes!
What makes the Central Virginia region unique when it comes to food?
The region is so great because of agriculture and waterways! There are not many places that can take you from the coast to the mountains in just a few hours. It really gives us everything we could ask for as Virginians.
Do you have a few go-to producers, farms or other suppliers where you'd rather get your local ingredients from?
We try to buy as locally as possible, using the middle of the Atlantic Ocean as a blueprint and then narrow it down towards Richmond, the closer the better. We've used several local farmers like Sweet Grass farms and Cabbage Hill, Paul Schofield the mushroom man, and we use water men like the Waltons in Urbanna when they have produce available.
What are some of your favorite Virginia flavors?
I really like roasted fall squashes, mashed, charred and grilled, or roasted and caramelized, and charred cabbage, grilled radicchio, or crispy endive! We also cook with cider!
What is your favorite thing to cook for yourself?
One of my favorite things to eat is braised short ribs, I love it. It's a real guilty pleasure and one of the things I don't eat that often because my family doesn't really like it. So when we have them working, I always try to have a snack with leftovers or crooked end pieces.
Which Virginia craft drink would you pair with this recipe?
I like to stick to cider to drink with food, so crunchy and sour that really diminishes the richness of heavily stewed or slow cooked foods and also a great way to start a meal. I have a supply of Foggy Ridge that I held that would be appropriate.
Where is your favorite vacation spot in Virginia?
My wife is from Hampton Roads, so most of our Virginia vacations or getaways are to the water. Whether it's a trip to Matthews, a day trip to Virginia Beach, or a layover with my in-laws in Williamsburg, for us it's always about the coast. And usually a dock!
Spotlight of the chef's recipe: grilled cabbage with Bottarga, Parmesan cheese and hazelnuts
Photo Credit: Lee Gregory
- 1 cup of Savoy cabbage
- 1 cup of whipped cream
- 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 oz bottarga
- 2 oz hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
- 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Light your grill and let it cook to embers so it doesn't burn the cabbage right away.
- Take your cream and let it cook over medium heat, then whisk in your cheese and mix to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.
- Divide the cabbage into quarters, leaving the core in place to keep the cabbage in wedges. Season with salt and pepper, then let it "harden" for 40 minutes and season the cabbage, allowing the moisture to seep out.
- Brush your cabbage evenly in oil, sear and char the cabbage over the embers, then place the cabbage so it doesn't hit the flames directly and let it cook on the stove, about 15 minutes.
- When your cabbage is cooked, transfer to 4 plates, scoop the Parmesan cheese on top and season with lemon zest and lemon juice. Shave the bottarga over it with a micro level or grater. Garnish with the roasted nuts.
Looking for more incredibly tasty recipes from Virginia's top chefs? Stay tuned for more Inside the Kitchen articles and check out these other articles in the Chef series: