Whichever region you are in, Virginia has an impressive culinary scene, with dozens of renowned chefs creating inspired dishes using locally sourced ingredients that bring together the best flavors of the Commonwealth in uniquely delicious ways. To put the spotlight on the best dishes in Virginia, we spoke to some of these chefs, from the award-winning seasoned professionals to the emerging stars who have garnered attention in national and even international publications. Follow our Inside the Kitchen series as we check out everything Eat.Drink.LOVE in Virginia!
The Red Truck Bakery began in a rural farmhouse about an hour west of Washington, DC in the famous Shenandoah Valley. Over the years, the bakery has grown rapidly in reputation and has been recognized by the New York Times, Southern Living, and the Washingtonian. In addition to media recognition, the bakery is also loved by notable figures like Oprah and former President Barack Obama, who fell in love with the bakery’s pecan cake. In addition to the original location in Marshall, a second Red Truck Bakery was opened in Warrenton. The bakery also offers a selection of cakes, pies, and baked goods online, which are delivered to customers across the United States.
Photo credit: Brian Noyes
The chef and owner Brian Noyes is the former art director for national publications such as The Washington Post, Smithsonian and House & Garden. As a hobby, he started making jams on the weekends and selling them in local shops. He marked the glasses with his “Red Truck” label, which was named after the classic Ford Farm Truck Noyes bought by the international fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger. The popularity of his products began to grow beyond the boundaries of the county, and when Noyes’ products were featured in the New York Times two years in a row, he decided to leave the art world and focus entirely on his cooking career. Today, Chef Noyes is still busy creating new recipes for his bakery locations and publishing cookbooks that are a must-have for any budding chef.
Want to learn more about Red Truck Bakery and Chef Noyes? Read on to learn more of its secrets, followed by one of Chef Noyes’ favorite recipes!
Do you have a few producers, farms, or other suppliers that you prefer your local ingredients from?
I use pears and more from Gardiner Laphams The Farm in Sunnyside near Little Washington in Rappahannock County. We also get pears and most other fruits and vegetables through Al Henry and his Jumpin Run Farm in Mount Jackson, Virginia (and if he doesn’t have what we need, he brings it from the Mennonite farming community in Dayton to the Shenandoah Valley .
What are your favorite Virginia flavors?
It’s all about apples, cake, and caramel (and we’re throwing all of that into a great dessert! I’m making apple butter, now I’m working on a new cookbook, and I’m going in a slightly different direction with winter pumpkin butter.
What do you prefer to cook for yourself?
At this time of year, it’s pork stews, soups, and most importantly, a mole sauce (that great Mexican sauce made with chilli, chocolate, raisins, nuts, and fruits) that I learned to make with Chef Rick Bayless in a former monastery in Oaxaca, Mexico. Mole with chicken legs and pumpkin enchiladas with mole sauce.
Which Virginia wine, craft beer, cider or cocktail would you go with?
I’m not a beer type, but I think a hard cider would be great, especially if mixed with some bourbon.
What is your favorite Virginia vacation spot?
I live in Arlington, have two bakeries in Fauquier County, and for me a vacation takes me 15 minutes to my farmhouse in Orlean – especially when I don’t have to mow the field.
Otherwise, I like to travel through the Shenandoah Valley (stay away from I-66) and eat at Ian Boden’s The Shack in Staunton, River and Rail in Roanoke. Whatever little dive looks good as I head south towards Abingdon.
Chef Recipe Spotlight: Upside down pear gingerbread cake
“I love gingerbread, and although we bake it every winter, I wanted to offer an elevated version for a fun vacation. My friend Gardiner Lapham from the nearby farm in Sunnyside in Rappahannock County brings me excess pears every fall and they inspired this recipe. We recommend using a well-greased springform pan to make sure the cake comes out as smoothly as possible. Pieces of pear inevitably stick to the bottom, but you can easily remove them from the pan with a knife. Comice pears are best for this recipe, although Bartletts and even Asian pears work well too. Make sure they aren’t too ripe as they won’t hold their shape while baking. You’re looking for fruit that is soft enough that you can slide your thumb in without juice splattering all over the place. “
Chef Brian Noyes
Photo credit: Brian Noyes
- 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons of orange peel
- 1⁄2 cup of granulated sugar
- 11⁄4 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1⁄2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon of ground allspice
- 1⁄4 teaspoon of ground or freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons of ground ginger
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 large eggs
- 3⁄4 cup full-fat buttermilk
- 1⁄2 cup of molasses
- 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
- 4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter, melted 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar packed
- 3 tablespoons of chopped crystallized ginger
- 3 ripe medium-sized pears, peeled, halved and pitted
- Non-stick cooking spray
- All-purpose unbleached flour for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 375 ° F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray and dust it with flour, tapping out any excess water. To prevent the fruits in the batter from sticking to the pan, line the pan with suitable parchment paper and spray the parchment with non-stick spray
2. Do the topping; Pour the melted butter into the prepared cake pan and tilt it to cover the bottom evenly. Scatter the brown sugar and crystallized ginger evenly over the bottom.
3. Holding the pear halves in the palm of your hand, cut them lengthways into 1⁄4 inch thick slices. Carefully place each half in the pan with the rounded side facing down and fan the slices by pressing them down. Repeat for each pear half to create a spoke pattern around the pan.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, until the pears look soft and lightly browned.
5. In the meantime, bake the cake: Mix the fresh ginger, orange peel and granulated sugar in a small bowl and stir with a fork. Let it rest for a few minutes so that the orange and ginger flavors can pour in the sugar.
6. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Add the sugar mixture to the flour mixture.
7. Whisk eggs, buttermilk, molasses, and canola oil in a separate large bowl. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula.
8. When the pears are baked, carefully and slowly pour the batter into the pan over the pears to make sure they keep their pattern.
9. Bake for 25 to 33 minutes, after 15 minutes turn the pan until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean in the center of the cake. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
10. Carefully turn the cake onto a large plate or platter and remove the parchment. Let cool completely before cutting and serving.
Are you looking for incredibly delicious recipes from Virginia’s top chefs? For more Inside the Kitchen items, check out the following Chef series articles:
- Chef Mikey Reisenberg from Mashita – Black Trumpet Truffle Pasta
- Chef Jose Arevalos at Woodstock Cafe – Pomegranate Burrata Pumpkin Salad
- Chef Rachel FitzGerald from Magpie Dinery – Apple Bacon Cheddar Sandwich
- Chef Dale Ford of the Devils Backbone Brewing Company – Braised Ribs with White Cheddar Byrd Mill truffle seeds, crispy Brussels and simple sauce
Inside the Kitchen with Chef Brian Noyes of Red Truck Bakery first appeared on Virginia’s travel blog.