Richmond native Michelle Williams has been a staple and an innovator in the local food scene for over two decades, introducing new concepts and creating some of the city’s iconic eating and drinking establishments.
Williams discovered her passion for cooking and food early on while studying as a sculpture major at Virginia Commonwealth University. A part-time job at the Tobacco Company Restaurant inspired her to enroll in the culinary program at J. Sargeant Reynolds, leading to a busy few years interning, working and launching menus in restaurants around Richmond.
In 1995, she joined forces with classmate and friend Jared Golden, and restaurant manager Ted Wallof to form the Richmond Restaurant Group (RRG). At the age of 22, Williams and her RRG partners opened their first restaurant, The Hard Shell, in Richmond’s historic Shockoe Bottom, and went on to launch 12 concepts, including two Hard Shell locations, The Hill Cafe, Pearl Raw Bar, The Daily Kitchen and Bar, and East Coast Provisions.
Recognizing a gap in the Richmond food scene, The Daily focuses on locally sourced produce and meats and simple, fresh ingredients. The menu was designed around health-conscious dishes with vegan, vegetarian, paleo, and gluten free options. It’s quickly become an anchor in Carytown and has been voted Best Vegan/Vegetarian, Best Gluten Free, and Best New Restaurant by Richmond Magazine and Style Weekly.
As a chef, Williams strives to balance new ideas and flavors that are exciting while still appealing to the diversity of Richmond and it’s surrounding communities. Michelle is involved in the culinary community and the community at large, serving on the boards of Downtown Presents and J Sargeant Reynolds. She is an active contributor to FeedMore, Massey Cancer Center, and the March of Dimes. She has participated in the Fire, Flour, and Fork culinary event and been a guest lecturer for the 2015 Virginia Vegan Dinner.
Although Williams’ career spans over two decades, she shows no signs of slowing down. RRG is opening 2 new restaurants in the next two years, including seafood fusion and sushi concept West Coast Provisions in Short Pump, and a second location for The Daily Kitchen and Bar. When she’s not working, Michelle can often be found with family along the Rappahannock River where she and her husband, Chef Brian Enroughty have started their own oyster farm, currently producing about 50,000 oysters a year exclusively available at RRG restaurants.
Will is a Richmond native with restaurant experience in Richmond and Manhattan. For the last five years he has been cooking at Kendra Feather's vegetarian restaurant Ipanema Cafe. He enjoys the challenges and freedoms of vegetarian cooking.
Tesauro chose wine school over law school, and since 2002, he's served as Chief Sommelier and National Brand Director for Barboursville Vineyards. He's also a father of five, the author of three books, a two-time national magazine award–winning food/wine/spirits journalist and a contributor to The New York Times, Decanter and The SOMM Journal. "Tesauro speaks with florid, Oscar Wildean zeal about using leisure and luxury to uplift people's lives." – Details magazine
Andrew Manning, Patrick Phelan & Megan Fitzroy Phelan
Longoven is a pop-up dinner series hosted by chefs Andrew Manning, Patrick Phelan and Megan Fitzroy Phelan that serves seasonal, ambitious menus featuring the best of local and regional ingredients. With over 20 years combined in the restaurant industry spanning luxury catering, Michelin starred restaurants and international consulting, Longoven have settled in Richmond, VA with plans to open brick and mortar in early Spring 2017. Bon Appétit Magazine recently named them one of America’s Best New Restaurants.
Courtney Mailey is the owner and cidermaker at Blue Bee Cider, based in Richmond, Va. She is a career switcher who left her desk job in economic development to start a cidery. She apprenticed at Albemarle CiderWorks and then started Blue Bee Cider in 2012 in the Manchester neighborhood. Blue Bee moved to the lovingly renovated Richmond stables in Scott’s Addition in Fall 2016. Mailey is from an Army family and met her husband while on assignment in Belfast, Northern Ireland. They live in downtown Richmond with a precious cat, Vivian.
Field Studio speaker: Field Studio is a collaboration of Hannah Ayers and Lance Warren, married documentary filmmakers based in Richmond, Virginia. They make media at the intersection of history and social justice, producing independent documentaries as well as promotional video for nonprofits, universities, and small businesses.
Hannah and Lance’s first film, THAT WORLD IS GONE: RACE AND DISPLACEMENT IN A SOUTHERN TOWN, won the Audience Award for Best Short Documentary at the 2010 Virginia Film Festival. Their latest film, AN OUTRAGE, about the history of lynching in the American South, premiered at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in March. Starting this fall, the Southern Poverty Law Center will make the film and a complementary curriculum available to its Teaching Tolerance network of nearly 500,000 teachers across the United States. In March 2017, AN OUTRAGE won the Audience Award at the Indie Grits Film Festival in Columbia, South Carolina. Their new film about John Dabney will be shown Nov. 2nd at The Dabney Dinner.
David is the Executive Chef & Founding Sole Proprietor of L’Opossum sur la Colline de L’Orégon in Richmond, Virginia. Soon after graduating from New England Culinary Institute, he began his eight year tenure at The Inn at Little Washington spanning 1987 to 1995. From Garde Manger to Executive Sous Chef, David experienced every station and responsibility in the kitchen. During that time, he staged at two Michelin starred properties, L'Oustau de Baumanière and Abbaye de Sainte Croix in France. David's culinary experience also includes apprenticing for Daniel Bonnot at Restaurant de la Tour Eiffel in New Orleans, Executive Chef at The Ashby Inn in Paris, VA, Chef at Helen’s and Chef/Co-Owner of Dogwood Grille & Spirits.
Recent awards include two 2017 Elbys for Chef of The Year & Restaurant of The Year as well as OpenTable’s Top 100 Restaurants in the U.S. In 2016, L’Opossum was named Style Weekly’s Restaurant of The Year and David was selected as a James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic.
At L’Opossum, David strives to create a menu and dining experience enhanced by curated music and decor that intrigues and satisfies all senses. “For me, the best part is directing a collaborative process to harness and focus the depth of the diverse skills and talents that everyone on our team possesses.” Photo by Alexa Edlund Welch
Dale Reitzer began his cooking career in 1982. After graduating from Johnson and Wales University in 1989, he became chef of Alexander's in Norfolk, VA.In 1990, Dale became the sous-chef at Windows on Urbanna and did short stints during winter months at nationally-acclaimed restaurants including Patina in Los Angeles for Chef Joachim Splichal. In 1993 Dale became the Chef de Cuisine at the Frog and the Redneck in Richmond, VA, and in 1996 he moved to Atlanta to work with Chef Gunther Seeger at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead. He was the James Beard nominee, semi-finalist for Best Chef: Mid Atlantic 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015 and Food and Wine Magazine America’s Best New Chef 1999. Returning once again to Richmond in 1998, Dale and his wife, Aline, opened Acacia. Acacia’s menu takes advantage of the freshest, highest quality food the area has to offer; cooked with consideration and to perfection by the chef, with an emphasis on seafood and regional favorites.
Chef Jason Alley grew up in Pulaski, Virginia, where agriculture was the mainstay of the local economy. At the age of four he industriously started cooking and never really stopped, helping out his busy family by whipping up Southern comfort food. His first professional food job was at St. Louis-based fast food chain Hardee’s. Alley resolved to go to college, but he soon realized that he was not well-suited to the world of academia and left to work at a Quaker-owned orchard near Harrisonburg, Virginia.
But fate intervened when a group of friends washing dishes at Harrisonburg Country Club encouraged him to join them. Soon he started prepping food and watching the chefs cook, and it wasn’t long before he had worked his way up to lead cook. He left shortly after for Champaign, Illinois and while his now-wife studied at the University of Illinois, he took a sous chef position at a bar and grill and was quickly promoted to executive chef.
The couple moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked at 1848 House, Blue Ridge Grill, and ENO. But his native state beckoned and Alley returned, this time to Richmond, for a position at the Europa Café and Tapas Bar, where he met his soon-to-be restaurant partner Chris Chandler. Alley and Chandler opened Comfort in 2002. Alley’s menu sings with a passion for the kind of Southern comfort food classics you could picture on checkered picnic blankets in some idyllic painting.
In 2011, with the help of partners Michele Jones and Ry Marchant, Jason opened his second restaurant, Pasture. Pasture features local products prepared simply, with a focus on small plates and current interpretations of classic Southern flavors. He opened Flora in 2017 with Michele Jones and Jay Bayer and there's more coming! When he’s not cooking or playing in his Spanglish Ramones cover band, Los Ramones, he's spending time with his wife and three amazing kids.
Trained professionally as a chef at the French Culinary Institute in New York City under Master Chefs Jacques Pepin, Andre Soltner and Alain Sailhac, Brittanny has worked for 15 years in the restaurant industry. After graduating at the top of her class at FCI, Brittanny worked in some of the best kitchens in New York City, most notably Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Northern Spy Food Company.
Brittanny is now back in her hometown of Richmond, VA where she cooks modern, seasonal, German-influenced cuisine as the Executive Chef and co-owner of Metzger Bar and Butchery in Union Hill. Brittanny is also co-owner of Brenner Pass in Scott's Addition.
Sara Ayyash is a graduate of Florida Culinary Institute and began her career creating delicious desserts at the award-winning The Troutdale Dining Room in Bristol, VA, Willa Jacks Restaurant in Abingdon, VA and The Blackberry Farm Hotel in Walland, TN.
She moved to Richmond to join the culinary team at The Jefferson Hotel as the Assistant Pastry Chef in 2010 and assumed the Executive Pastry Chef position in less than a year. She delights guests with her sweet treats in TJ's, Lemaire, Sunday Champagne Brunch and private special events while dazzling visitors to the hotel with her much celebrated, larger-than-life holiday displays. She uses local and seasonal inspirations to create simple, yet sophisticated classic American dishes laced with her own personal Southern flair.
Ellie Basch & Jannequin Bennett
Ellie Basch Ellie Basch grew up in a family of Chinese-Indonesian cooks. She began her cooking career at The Southern Inn in Lexington, VA, and worked on every kitchen duty, from making sandwiches to line cooking to baking breads. With her extensive knowledge of spices and herbs, Ellie developed her signature style: fresh, flavorful and healthy. Ellie launched Everyday Gourmet in 2002. In 2012, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs selected Ellie to receive the Barbara Tropp Memorial Internship to study Chinese cuisine. Ellie spent 3 weeks cooking at the Black Sesame Kitchen in Beijing and a week exploring the food of Fujian, the province from which Ellie’s grandparents emigrated. Throughout her Richmond cooking career, Ellie has worked at the Jefferson Hotel and The Bull and The Bear Club. She also designed and launched New Visions New Venture’s Breadwinners Program, a non-profit program that helps low income women start their own food business.
Jannequin Bennett Chef Jannequin Bennett honed her culinary skills in New York, working in restaurants from SoHo to the Upper East Side. She came to Richmond as executive chef and general manager of TJ's Restaurant at the Jefferson Hotel. Following nine years at TJ's, she became the Executive Chef and Prepared Foods Manager at Ellwood Thompson's. While at ET, Jannequin developed recipes, opened a production bakery, revamped and expanded the prepared food department and opened a coffee shop. Her books, Very Vegetarian, and The Complete Vegan Kitchen remain popular among all vegetable lovers, omnivore and vegan alike.
After receiving the 2011 Barbara Tropp Award to study Chinese Cuisine, she traveled in China, working in restaurants and cooking schools in both Hangzhou and Beijing. She traveled in southern China with Martin Yan as he scouted locations for this new PBS show. When she returned, she joined forces with her friend and colleague, Ellie Basch, as co-owner of Everyday Gourmet. Their shared commitment to fresh, flavorful food makes them a sought after team for all manner of events.
As our name suggests, Lehja is a modern Richmond Indian restaurant that is all about style. Dreamed by Virginia restaurateur Ashok K. Arora, the restaurant has, at its heart, a kitchen that boasts traditional and popular dishes with a contemporary flair. In Managing Partner, Sandeep "Sunny" Baweja you will find a gracious host. Sunny and his team are constantly striving to provide you with a great dining experience in Short Pump.Lehja's convenient location makes it an ideal gathering spot for private and business diners alike, and our easygoing decor, inspired by 1970s Southern California, provides a cozy, cultured and refreshing spot right here in Richmond. There are four unique dining areas to keep the excitement going for your return visits. Our wine cellar graces the floor of the restaurant where vast and popular selections are stored in a humidity-controlled, temperate environment. Visit our bar and lounge and fill your craving for cocktails with our signature and innovative offerings. Open nightly, our bar and lounge provides a good place to socialize. Want a little West Coast flair? Enjoy our California-style outdoor dining area, where a naked flame fire pit invites you to cozy up for a fun-filled (or perhaps romantic) evening.
From an early age, Walter Bundy’s experiences on the Piankatank River in the Chesapeake Bay instilled in him a reverence for indigenous ingredients. His summers were filled with profound culinary experiences, from eating fresh fish and crabs pulled from the river by his own hand to helping his grandmother in the kitchen as she baked pies from heirloom recipes. The family garden was prolific with everything from cucumbers to tomatoes and squash, and hunting trips with his father completed the earth-to-table eating that was simply their way of life. Bundy took his rich culinary heritage with him when he left home for Hampden-Sydney College, and he was fortunate to live on a country farm where hunting was plentiful. He took to cooking wild game for friends and family, and the connection between the land and the kitchen further strengthened his commitment to entertaining with locally informed cuisine.
While in college, Bundy helped open The Blue Point Restaurant on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The restaurant continues to be known for its “Southern coastal cuisine” and its use of the freshest local ingredients. After graduation, he was exposed to a whole new palette of flavors when a move to Santa Fe, New Mexico brought him to work at Mark Miller’s Coyote Café. Inspired by the variety of unfamiliar ingredients and flavor profiles, Bundy decided to enroll in the New England Culinary Institute. A desire to learn about wine subsequently brought him to the Napa Valley, where he worked with renowned chef Thomas Keller at the legendary French Laundry.
In 2002, Bundy was one of the featured chefs at the James Beard House in New York, and in the same year he presented a dinner for renowned New York chef Daniel Boulud. In 2003, Chef Bundy was the guest chef for The Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic Gala dinner held in Virginia Beach. Bundy also participated in an offsite James Beard Dinner held at Todd Jurich’s Bistro in Norfolk, Virginia. In 2004, chef Bundy appeared on Food Network’s Food Nation with Bobby Flay and also appeared as a guest chef for a dinner to promote Patrick O’ Connell’s The Inn at Little Washington Cookbook.
Bundy was named executive chef at Lemaire in May 2001. As a native Virginian, he is committed to providing upscale Southern cuisine that showcases the bountiful seasons of the area. The menu honored traditions while providing a modern, fresh approach.
During his tenure in Lemaire, Bundy cooked at the James Beard House in New York and hosted a number of James Beard award winners in his kitchen for an annual fundraiser in support of the foundation. He regularly participates in local charity events and has been featured on Food Network’s Food Nation with Bobby Flay and the Cooking Channel’s Road Trip with G. Garvin. He is an active member of Southern Foodways Alliance and a big fan of the work that they do to preserve and celebrate the diverse food cultures of the American South.
Bundy opened his own restaurant, Shagbark, in summer 2016 in Libbie Mill-midtown.
Swiss-trained chef Tanya Cauthen encountered a culinary paradox: Richmond chefs could find excellent cuts of meat, but Richmond consumers lacked options. The idea of bringing restaurant-grade meats to the consumer market was born in the spring of 2006, and the idea became Belmont Butchery.
Cauthen moved to Richmond in 1993 to work with Jimmy Sneed at the acclaimed The Frog and The Redneck restaurant in Shockoe Slip. At 24, she opened The Red Oak Cafe as executive chef. Never afraid of a challenge, chef Cauthen opened Capers Catering as chef-partner. Her experience has not been limited to restaurants, having worked as chef of Ellwood Thompson's Local Market, and the European Market. Cauthen opened Edible Garden in 2005 as Chef de Cuisine.
Cauthen's international experience includes a chef's apprenticeship in Bern, Switzerland, where she first tried her hand at butchery, as well as a stint at Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market in Australia. Always hoping to inspire good cooking, she ran the Virginia Gourmet cooking school, and has covered food and wine as a writer for a well known regional publication.
Chef Yeshi Demisse loves sharing her knowledge about the nutritional properties of 100 percent brown teff flour, an ancient grain that she uses to make her injera. She also is the resident spice expert, making her own house-blended berbere, a chili blend that takes a week to create, and mitimita, a cayenne blend. The Nile strives to make authentic Ethiopian dishes and provide a unique experience to its guests. The restaurant has a variety of vegetarian and non vegetarian selections, and its intention is to provide meals that are nourishing and healthy by using quality ingredients and cooking methods.
Chef David Dunlap is presently Executive Chef of the soon-to-open Quirk Hotel, A Destination Hotel, located in Richmond, Va. Slated to open September 2015, David’s hands-on approach at the hotel’s food & beverage outlets will influence the conception and development of a restaurant designed for city residents and travelers alike, as well as a bar and bites program at the city’s first-ever rooftop bar and lounge.
Born in Washington State near the Puget Sound, Chef David Dunlap recalls fond childhood memories of days spent playing and harvesting in his family's orchards: plucking strawberries and blackberries, foraging for huckleberries an fishing in the stream behind his home. Establishing a passion for food in his early upbringing, David took his first cooking role at a local farmer's market in Boulder, Colo. Realizing he had found his calling, he enrolled at the California Culinary Academy to conduct his studies and further his skillset. Upon graduation, he worked under Executive Chef Romuald Jung at El Encanto Hotel in Santa Barbara, California, where he refined his utilization of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as creating and executing complicated and delicious recipes on the fly as he worked with the array of seafood delivered daily by local fishermen. From there, Chef Dunlap accepted a position with the five-star, five-diamond Four Seasons, also in Santa Barbara, where he worked under Executive Chef Martin Frost and contributed to menu development as well as assisting with a myriad of winemaker dinners.
The arrival of their second child (now a father of three) prompted David and his wife to move to Virginia to be closer to family. Dunlap secured a position with the opening crew for Alain Ducasse's Adour restaurant, in Washington, D.C., and trained under Executive Chef Julian Jouhannud and Corporate Chef Sylvin Portay. It was here that David notes the finer points of his culinary approach were developed. With a variety of high-demand skills now under David’s belt, Chef Damon Gordon of Plume Restaurant at The Jefferson Hotel, DC, a Relais & Châteaux property, recruited David as his Sous Chef. This opportunity led to The Inn at Little Washington, another Relais & Châteaux property, taking notice of David’s culinary skills. David was hired as their Sous Chef and soon thereafter promoted to Executive Sous Chef. Two years later, David accepted an offer to become the Executive Chef at The Ashby Inn, located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, where he helmed the restaurant and culinary programing for nearly two years, prior to accepting his current position at Quirk Hotel.
Richmond native, J. Frank began his professional career in his hometown at the prestigious Commonwealth Club in the late 1970s. From there he gained international experience at the Hilton International in Munich, the Brauerei Gastof in Aying Aying, Germany and at Hintlesham Hall in Hintlesham, England. He returned to the states in the late 80s to work at the Indian Creek Country Club in Miami and from there to The Inn at Little Washington and the Urbana Inn in his home state of Virginia.
He came back to Richmond in 1991 where he gained widespread recognition for his culinary achievements at The Berkeley Hotel. Since 1995, J. has been the chef for the Lewis Family in Richmond.
Chef Dylan Fultineer of Rappahannock, the restaurant behind Rappahannock Oyster Co. in Richmond, started his lifelong interest in food early watching his Pennsylvania Dutch relatives In York, PA, cure meats and make sauerkraut. Before opening Rappahannock, Chef Fultineer apprenticed under James Beard Award-winning Chefs Paul Kahan at Blackbird in Chicago, and Chef Suzanne Goin at The Hungry Cat in Los Angeles. His menus at Rappahannock, as well as Merroir, and Rappahannock Oyster Bar, celebrate the best that Virginia has to offer by making distinctive dishes showcasing Virginia oysters, and other ingredients grown, raised, or caught near Central Virginia.
After serving as a cook in the Marine Corps, Tim Gearhart formally trained in pastry at The Culinary Institute of America. He then externed at Charlottesville's famed Keswick Hall before helping with the launch of Hamiltons’ at First & Main as the pastry chef. His culinary career then took him to places as far-flung as a dude ranch in Wyoming and a castle in southern England, with stops in fine-dining restaurants along the way. He finally returned to Charlottesville to open Gearharts Fine Chocolates, where he and his team have been crafting distinctive artisan chocolates enjoyed by customers near and far.
Lee Gregory worked under chef Dale Reitzer at Acacia in Richmond, Virginia, for five years before moving to Six Burner (Richmond), Mockingbird in Staunton, and Blue Light Grill in Charlottesville. He returned in 2011 to open The Roosevelt. The Roosevelt is a neighborhood restaurant in a turn-of-the-last-century building in Church Hill, Richmond’s oldest neighborhood. The Roosevelt's menu is an untraditional celebration of the food of the South, served alongside an all-Virginia wine list, a hearty roster of regional beers, and a selection of craft cocktails that’ll knock your socks off. The Roosevelt opened to public and critical acclaim and was named 2012 Restaurant of the Year by Style Magazine, Best New Restaurant in the Region by Richmond Magazine and awarded an Elby as the city’s Best New Restaurant. The Roosevelt was again awarded Elbys in 2013 for Best Cocktail Program (Thomas “T” Leggett), and in 2014 for Restaurant of the Year and Chef of the Year. In 2013, 2014 and 2015, Gregory was nominated for the James Beard Awards Best Chef Mid Atlantic, and in 2014 joined the advisory council for the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival. Here opened Southbound with Joe Sparatta in late 2014, crossing the James River in style.
Sergio Gomez is chef de cuisine at Flora, after working alongside Jason Alley at Pasture for many years.
Chef Michael Hall who owned M Bistro at Rocketts Landing, emphasizes his award winning “Country French Cooking with a Southern Flair, offering his distinguished menu of fine dining and a few new touches representing the best in Southern cuisine at Richmond’s 2300 Club. Previously, Chef Hall was general manager and executive chef at the Bull and Bear Club and also Executive Chef at The Berkeley Hotel in Downtown Richmond.
Carena Ives, with her mother in the kitchen by her side, opened Jamaica House in 1994 on West Broad Street near VCU. In 2007, she ventured to Chesterfield County on Midlothian Turnpike near Chippenham Parkway to open her second restaurant, Carena's Jamaican Grille. When Jamaica House opened in the summer of 1994, it became the home away from home for island people living in Richmond. "That means on a Saturday morning when you're hankering for a plate of Ackee n' Salt fish and Fry Dumpling, or on a Friday afternoon the only thing you're hungry for is a steaming bowl Red Peas Soup, only place to satisfy those cravings in Richmond is Jamaica House."
One of fourteen children, Velma "Mama J" Johnson was born and raised in Richmond, VA. She and her siblings took on a lot of responsibility around the house, including helping their mother in the kitchen, where she learned many of the recipes now so popular at Mama J's. A visit to Mama J's feels a lot like coming home.
Born & grew up in Roanoke VA,
- Graduated from Roanoke College, studied Spanish, Psychology and Anatomy & Physiology
- Left Roanoke in 1990 and lived in Charlotte, Martha’s Vineyard,
Atlanta and Richmond.
- The high point of my service career was working as sommelier and assistant manager at the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead in Atlanta, GA (1995 – 1999). During this time at the Dining Room, the restaurant earned the Mobil 5 Star award, becoming one of 14 restaurants in the country to achieve that distinction.
- Encouraged by Michael McNeill MS to enter the Court of Master Sommelier program in 1995 - I passed the practical and blind tasting components of the Master Sommelier exam in October 1999 and in March 2001 I passed the theoretical component of the Master Sommelier exam, becoming the 49th American to earn the Master Sommelier diploma.
- I left the service industry in June 2001 and joined Kysela Père et Fils, (Importer and Distributor of wine, sake, spirits and beers) as a national account manager, to learn the business of moving wine around the world, into and through our system of wholesale distributors and on the trade.
- Completed John Gauntner’s Advanced Saké Professional course in Japan in 2014.
- Married since 1995, with two children, moved to Richmond VA in June 1999.
- Professional travels to France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Scotland, Wales, England, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Hawaii and the Turks & Caicos have furthered my education.
From Baltimore to Oahu to Richmond, Mike Ledesma’s culinary travels and Filipino heritage continue to inspire his cooking. Once a financial advisor, he made a career change in 2002 when he enrolled in culinary school in Hawaii. Since moving from desk to kitchen, he’s worked under “Iron Chef” Roy Yamaguchi and has brought his passion for food back to the East Coast. Recently he led operations, training and menu development for six restaurants as corporate chef for Richmond Restaurant Group. After opening the Hard Shell’s Southside Richmond location and the Belgian-inspired Max’s on Broad, Ledesma’s menu relaunch at Patina put the restaurant in the spotlight as one of the Richmond Magazine’s top 10 dining establishments. In August 2017 he became Executive Chef at Kabana Rooftop in downtown Richmond.
According to the Southern Foodways Alliance, "In 1980, Ida MaMusu fled war-torn Monrovia, Liberia, and came to the United States. Her grandmother, Ida Williams, was originally from Reston, Virginia, and went to Liberia as part of the American Colonization Society, a movement sending freed slaves back to Africa. Under her grandmother’s tutelage, Ida learned the art of cooking, sometimes without even going near the kitchen. When Ida MaMusu fled the war, she had no choice but to leave her entire family behind. She arrived in Richmond in 1986 and worked for the next decade to bring her two children and parents to the United States. After opening Braids of Africa on Broad Street in 1996, Ida found herself not only doing hair, but cooking meals for her customers. Inspired, she opened her first restaurant space next door in 1998, eventually moving to a smaller, better-located space on Main Street. Ida’s grandmother always told her that the things she learned from her were not hers to keep—that she must pass them on to keep her memory alive. In 2002, Ida started Chef MaMusu’s Cultural Cooking School to pass her knowledge on to young girls."
A native of Sierra Leone, West Africa, Samantha Paul found her calling to cuisine through necessity: using little to create bold and flavorful cuisine. After graduating from Culinard, Paul honed her technique under the care of Chef Hannah Pollack at The Greenleaf. Currently, she is a sushi chef at Red Salt.
Craig Perkinson began cooking early, learning at the side of his grandmothers while growing up in Richmond, VA.
He studied Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales in Norfolk, VA and afterward took an internship in the culinary mecca of New Orleans.
He stayed for 2 years, cooking at legendary New Orlean's institution, Brennan's before returning to the region for a stint in the Outer Banks at Blue Point in Nags Head.
Settling back in Richmond, he was on the team that opened Pescado's before landing happily at Heritage and becoming sous chef under Chef Joe Sparatta. When Sparatta and Chef Lee Gregory of The Roosevelt decided to open a family friendly restaurant South of the River, they chose Craig to be the Chef De Cuisine.
An avid angler, his cuisine speaks to his love of seafood and is informed by his travels outside the United States. He brings new techniques and intriguing flavors to updated classics at Southbound.
A native of the garden state of New Jersey, Joe was born into a family of chefs, and took up the craft at an early age. It was not until he began working at The Ryland Inn under Chef Craig Shelton that he truly found his passion. At the time, The Ryland was the only New Jersey restaurant to be awarded four stars by the New York Times, and the only to be awarded Relais Gourmands by Relais & Chateaux; it is in this environment, with a four acre organic garden to work with, that Joe got his education. Joe received additional training with Chefs David Bouley, Eric Ripert, and Michael Laiskonis in New York City before joining Chef Scott Anderson to open elements in Princeton, NJ.
While Sous Chef and Pastry Chef at elements, Joe managed a team that received top ratings from local and New York press, garnered publication in Art Culinaire, and earned a spot in the top 20 “most important restaurants” in America by the Opinionated About Dining Guide.
Since moving to Virginia, Joe has worked with restaurateur Paul Keevil and with Chef Jason Alley & Michele Jones, along with Ry Marchant, in their latest restaurant venture Pasture.
When not at Heritage, and when the season is right, you can probably find him fishing, or foraging for ramps and other wild delicacies to tempt his son Hunter with.
Pat Schweitzer, director, test kitchen - Wolf Gourmet, is beloved by many for her work as 1/2 of Pat & Betty for Reynolds Wrap. Pat's career has spanned decades and her innovations have likely helped you in your kitchen--or will soon!
Mickael Broth is Richmond-based artist, muralist, and writer. Broth came to Richmond in 2001 with the intention of painting graffiti as much as possible. His involvement in vandalism was halted abruptly with his arrest in 2004 and subsequent ten-month jail term for his crimes. Since that time, he has gone on to pursue a successful and active career in the arts.
He was awarded a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Professional Fellowship in 2008 for his gallery work which has been shown in museums, galleries, and abandoned buildings across the country. He has painted murals throughout Richmond and the United States over the past decade as part of public art projects and private commissions. In 2016, Broth received international acclaim for his “dancing” Bernie Sanders mural in Richmond. It was seen by over 1.5 million viewers on Imgur in less than a week and was shared widely through social media.
In 2013 he published a three part memoir entitled Gated Community: Graffiti and Incarceration, detailing his experiences in the justice system.
Broth has been an active member of the community, working with youth art groups, as well as leading groups of corporate volunteers through public art projects, in addition to contributing work to multiple non-profit organizations. Broth is the co-founder of Welcoming Walls, a project dedicated to bring public art to the highways and gateways of Richmond Virginia in an effort to boost civic pride, tourism, and the city’s reputation as a capital of creativity.
Bartholomew Broadbent is the owner of Broadbent Selections, one of America’s finest wine importing companies. He also produces Broadbent Madeira, Vinho Verde and Port. In 1989, having moved to America four years earlier to develop the Port market, Bartholomew was made responsible for reintroducing Madeira to the USA, as it had never recovered from Prohibition's destructive effect. By 1997, with Broadbent Selections, "He has expanded from his pivotal role in the breathtaking growth of Port and Madeira to exert a profound influence on the US wine market” said Decanter magazine who named him one of the “fifty most influential in the wine world…the faces to watch in the new millennium”. Profiled by Wine Spectator , Market Watch “The Pioneer of Port” , American Fine Wine Magazine  and Forbes.com , the son of Michael Broadbent MW, Bartholomew was also named by Wine&Spirits in 2008 as one of ten in the world to be “driving the most revolutionary changes in wine” for his visionary work producing Chinese wine. Broadbent Selections continues to build the Madeira revival but now also represents other famous wines from most wine producing countries, like Chateau Musar, Spy Valley and all the most cutting edge wineries in South Africa. Bartholomew has been a regular speaker at the most important wine festivals in the USA, as well as being a lecturer around the world for many of the greatest cruise lines. He now lives in Richmond, Virginia where, coincidentally, he happens to live in the house which was used to secretly plot and repeal Virginia's Prohibition. You can follow Bartholomew on Twitter, Facebook and his website Broadbent.com
Brad Cooper is a Chesterfield native who early on developed an interest in science and a penchant for precision. In his younger years, these interests became passions and resulted in a lot of experiments and some ill advised fireworks creations that kept his parents on their toes at all times. After attending the Virginia Military Institute, Cooper began home brewing and quickly developed a talent for creating recipes that resulted in unique flavors while still emphasizing the history behind specific styles of beer. In September 2014, Cooper decided to take the leap into entrepreneurship and began plans to open his first brewery in his hometown of Chesterfield. On June 11, 2016, the Cooper family opened the doors at Steam Bell Beer Works to several thousand friends and haven’t looked back since. Specializing in farmhouse ales, Steam Bell Beer Works has 3 flagship beers — the Grisette Saison, Time Is Money IPA, and Tiramisu Stout — and continues to evolve their portfolio with a wide selection of small batch beers on tap in their tasting room. Historically, a steam bell was used in the craft of barrel making by coopers to make the wood they used more pliable. As such, the Steam Bell brand name is representative of the heritage, tradition and craftsmanship we seek to embody in every beer we create.
Born in Augusta, GA, James began helping his mother in the kitchen at an early age. With his father in the Navy, the family moved around a bit before settling in Virginia Beach where James landed his first cooking job in a café at 19. Eventually, James moved to Richmond and joined the kitchen at Can Can where he “fell in love with French cooking.” James cites an “amazing eight years” working his way through the kitchen to become Sous Chef then Head Chef. James has also been Sous Chef at The Daily, Graffiato and Bistro Bobette.
James joined L’Opossum in the spring of 2015 as Sous Chef and was recently promoted to Chef de Cuisine. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in both Southern and French cuisines to L’Opossum. Currently, James oversees daily kitchen operations and collaborates on the menu development and execution with L’Opossum’s Executive Chef, David Shannon.
“It’s been almost two years, since I started here. It is the perfect balance of Southern food and French. First place I’ve worked that has felt completely comfortable.”
Born and raised in Goochland County, in the Richmond Region, Patrick grew up learning the food cultures of his mother’s family in Wolftown, VA where cooking from scratch and food preservation were both preferred and necessary. From his father’s family in Eastern North Carolina, he developed an appreciation for the smoking and slow-roasting of pork and other meats.
The fifth person in his family to attend East Carolina University, Patrick enrolled as a freshman to pursue a career as a pharmacist. After two years of heavy science curriculum he changed his major to Hospitality Management, based upon his first work experiences in the kitchens of Richmond-area restaurants. It was there that he re-discovered his passion for fresh ingredients and the art of culinary creation.
Following graduation, he stayed in North Carolina where he continued to hone his skills in the kitchen, restaurant operations and guest service. It was also in the kitchen that he met his lovely wife, and they began to build a life together which ultimately led them back to his Virginia roots.
In 2009, the lure of being close to family, as well as his wife’s career path to becoming a physician led them back to Richmond. Patrick joined the Lemaire team as a line cook just as the restaurant was launching a newly renovated space and a New American menu featuring Virginia grown ingredients and the Southern influences of Richmond. He was then promoted to sous chef before being named executive chef of Lemaire in 2016.
When he is not in the kitchen you can find Patrick outside. He enjoys playing with and chasing after his two young sons, kicking the soccer ball or swinging a baseball bat. He also enjoys being near the water - kayaking, fishing or hunting water fowl. Or, you may just find him tending his homemade smoker and a delicious cut of meat for his family’s dinner.
Jessica has worked with, been taught by and been inspired and motivated by chefs such as Julia Child, Gabrielle Hamilton, Missy Robbins, and Job Yacubian.
She has always been surrounded by the culinary arts from her early years growing up on a farm in Vermont to working with culinary historians to foraging on morning walks to her first job as a dishwasher at age 14. She became the chef at Dear Bushwick and is now poised to open GRACE in Richmond.