Whichever region you are in, Virginia has an impressive culinary scene with dozens of renowned chefs creating inspired dishes from 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 rising 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!
Located in the historic Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia, Alewife serves mid-Atlantic seafood. The coastal waters of the mid-Atlantic region are celebrated with a view to nature conservation and sustainability.
Photo credit: Lee Gregory
Alewife’s Chef, Lee Gregory, is a three-time semi-finalist on the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Mid-Atlantic Chef and StarChef Rising Star. Although Chef Gregory grew up in South Carolina, he has a long culinary history in Virginia. He worked under Chef Dale Reitzer at Acacia in Richmond for five years 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 co-owner and executive chef from 2011 to 2008. In 2014 he helped open Bon Air favorite Southbound, where he is currently the co-owner and head chef. Alewife is Lee’s first solo venture.
Want to learn more about Alewife and Chef Gregory? Read on to learn more of its secrets, followed by one of Chef Gregory’s favorite recipes!
What Makes the Central Virginia Region Unique When It Comes To Groceries?
The region is so great because of the agriculture and the waterways! Not many places can be reached in a few hours from the coast to the mountains. It really gives us everything we could want as Virginians.
Do you have a couple of producers, farms, or other suppliers that you prefer your local ingredients from?
We try to buy as locally as possible, using the mid Atlantic as a blueprint and then scaling it down towards Richmond. The closer the better. We have used several local farmers like Sweet Grass Farms and Cabbage Hill, Paul Schofield the mushroom type, and we use mermen like the Waltons in Urbanna when they have produce available.
What are some of your favorite Virginia flavors?
I love roasted autumn squash, mashed, charred and grilled or roasted and caramelized and charred cabbage, grilled radicchio or crispy bitter endive! We also cook with cider!
What do you prefer to cook for yourself?
One of my favorite foods is braised short ribs, I love them. It’s a real guilty pleasure and one of the things I can’t eat that often because my family doesn’t really love it. When we have them at work I always try to get a snack with leftovers or crooked ends.
Which Virginia Craft drink would you combine with this recipe?
I like sticking to cider to drink with food that is so crispy and sour that it really reduces the abundance of heavy braised or slow cooked foods and is a great way to start a meal. I have a stash of Foggy Ridge that I held onto that would fit.
Where is your favorite Virginia vacation spot?
My wife is from Hampton Roads, so most of our Virginia vacations or getaways are on the water. Whether it’s a trip to Matthews, a day trip to Virginia Beach, or visiting my in-laws in Williamsburg, we’re always about the coast. And usually a dock!
Chef Recipe Spotlight: Grilled cabbage with bottarga, parmesan cream and hazelnuts
Photo credit: Lee Gregory
- 1 head of savoy cabbage
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
- 2 ounces bottarga
- 2 ounces of hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
- 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Light your grill and let it simmer over embers so it doesn’t burn the cabbage right away.
- Take your heavy cream and let it cook over medium heat then whip your cheese in and mix to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warm.
- Divide your cabbage into quarters and leave the core in place to hold the cabbage in wedges. Season with salt and pepper, then let it “harden” for 40 minutes and season the cabbage, which also allows moisture to escape.
- Coat your cabbage evenly with oil, fry the cabbage and char over the embers. Then move the cabbage so that it is not directly on the flames and let it cook on the heat for about 15 minutes until it is tender.
- When your cabbage is cooked through, go to 4 plates, spoon the parmesan cream and season with lemon zest and lemon juice. Shave the bottarga over it with a micro level or grater. Garnish with the roasted nuts.
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 Truman Jones at the Tides Inn– Baked Rappahannock oysters “Chesapeake” (& several cocktail recipes!)
- Chef Rose Moot from Pico Taqueria– Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
- Chef Brian Noyes from Red Truck Bakery– Upside down pear and gingerbread cake
- Chef Mikey Reisenberg from Mashita– Black trumpet truffle noodles
- Chef Jose Arevalos at Woodstock Cafe– Pomegranate Burrata Pumpkin Salad
- Chef Rachel FitzGerald from Magpie Dinery– Apple and bacon cheddar sandwich
- Chef Dale Ford of the Devils Backbone Brewing Company– Fried short ribs with white Cheddar Byrd Mill truffle seeds, crispy brussels and simple sauce
Inside the Kitchen with Alewife’s Chef Lee Gregory first appeared on Virginia’s travel blog.