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!
Mashita in Harrisonburg started out as a food truck in 2013. Chef and owner Mikey Reisenberg teamed up with Sous Chef Kevin Chapman. Chef Reisenberg was born in Seoul, South Korea and adopted as a child. He grew up in the Shenandoah Valley and received his college degree from James Madison University. Growing up in an independent family, Chef Reisenberg worked for his father’s businesses and learned the importance of community, networking, discipline and hard work.
Photo Credit: Aaron Zook, IG Account: @ aaron.zook
Chef Reisenberg credits his mother and father with his passion, work ethic, basic cooking skills and a belief that food nourishes the body and soul. His parents are not independent chefs, but they both placed great emphasis on home-cooked meals shared around the same dining table. Chef Reisenberg quickly realized that not all households work the same way. Rather than following the instructions on reheating commercial packaging solutions, he devoted himself to the mystery and science of how heat, seasoning, and engineering can transform fresh ingredients into something entirely new. While the finished product nourished the body, the desire to learn, grow and share his passion also nourished his soul.
While Mashita’s menu originally consisted of Korean-inspired menu items like homemade steamed buns, quick pickled kimchi, and bulgogi (traditional marinated beef), Chef Reisenberg and his team quickly realized that replicating or mimicking traditional Korean foods was no joy in the process, and Chef Reisenberg began developing his own recipes, picking up dishes and flavors that could serve as the basis for growth and a unique culinary identity.
After six years as a food truck, expanding the catering business and developing a variety of special menu items, he opened the Mashita restaurant in downtown Harrisonburg. The restaurant offers many of the food truck’s most popular specialties as part of its daily menu, but Chef Reisenberg never stops dreaming, creating and producing. In a single year, Mashita has served over 65 special menu items, many of which were developed and offered at the height of COVID-19. Chef Reisenberg keeps the menu items fresh and changes the dishes depending on product availability and seasonality. He challenges himself and his employees to create fresh, innovative cuisine.
Photo Credit: Aaron Zook, IG Account: @ aaron.zook
Would you like to learn more about Mashita and Chef Reisenberg? Read on to learn more of its secrets, followed by one of Chef Reisenberg’s favorite recipes!
What makes the Shenandoah Valley region unique when it comes to food?
The Shenandoah Valley offers a unique mix of independent producers, farmers, artisans and wild-eaten food that is helping to impact the culinary realm. Regional farmers markets offer alternative options to local sourcing options, and many independent producers will offer to grow items that are specific to their buyers. This intermingling of farmers and restaurants creates a mutually beneficial relationship that connects the producers of raw materials with the end consumer, thereby strengthening the local economy and informing the public. We believe these relationships and understanding where food and ingredients come from is an important understanding of how and why restaurants and chefs work the way they do. The more educated and aware the end consumer is about a particular product, the more population groups or markets can be sold to our products. Wild-eaten ramps and mushrooms have become very popular this season and are a great example of the training I discussed.
Who are some of your producers and farms?
Woods Edge Farm, North Mountain Produce, Overlook Farms, and Portwood Acres.
What are some of your favorite Virginia flavors?
Winter squash, locally eaten mushrooms, and local apples are some of my favorite flavors.
What do you prefer to cook for yourself?
Cacio e Pepe – essentially a more elegantly prepared pasta dish made from butter and parmesan with black pepper. The dish is simple but delicious and encourages the expansion or addition of additional flavors and ingredients
Which Virginia Craft drink would you combine with this recipe?
Old Hill Blackberry Cider – goes well with hearty dishes and is a great farewell to summer.
Brothers Cerveza Hermanos – a newer brew from our friends at Brothers Craft Brewing that is crispy and light and goes well with spicy and umami flavors.
Where is your favorite Virginia vacation spot?
My wife and I always think of Williamsburg when we need a getaway. The old town is especially beautiful during the holidays.
Chef Recipe Spotlight: Black Trumpet Truffle Noodles
Photo credit: Mashita
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons of white truffle oil
- 2 large whole eggs
- 12 egg yolks
- 2 Table spoons of milk
- 1 tbsp ground black trumpet mushroom powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Create a well with flour and add all of the other ingredients to the well. Break open the yolks with your fingers, combine the ingredients and slowly draw in flour.
- Slowly pull the ingredients together into a slightly shaggy ball of dough, cover and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Knead again to form a smooth ball of dough, cover and let rest for another 30 minutes.
- Using a rolling pin, cut the dough into equal sections to roll into your favorite pasta shape.
- Cook the finished noodles in boiling water for about 2 minutes or until the noodles float.
- Throw in brown butter and your favorite vegetables or mushrooms!
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 Jose Arevalos at Woodstock Cafe– Pomegranate Burrata Pumpkin Salad
- Cook Rachel FitzGerald from Magpie Dinerand– 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 Chef Mikey Reisenberg from Mashita first appeared on Virginia’s travel blog.