Food News: Hooray for James Beard semi-finalists, goodbye to GlobeHopper, and hello Chinese New Year!
This week’s food news is full of ups, downs, and dumplings.
Three Richmond Chefs–Acacia’s Dale Reitzer, The Roosevelt’s Lee Gregory, and Peter Chang China Cafe’s own Peter Chang–have been named as semifinalists for the 2015 James Beard Awards in the Best Chef–Mid-Atlantic Category. This year, the 25th in the history of the James Beard Awards, there were over 35,000 submissions, which the JBF Restaurant and Chef Award Committee whittled down to the current list.
“It’s cool to be in there with your mentor,” says Gregory. “Reitzer strikes again!” he laughs, adding, “It’s certainly cool to be included with your former boss. Same thing with the Elby’s–to be put up there with someone you look up to is pretty incredible.”
Reitzer says, “The one thing I told Lee [Gregory] when he was coming up was, ‘It’s nice to be recognized, don’t get me wrong, but don’t let it occupy your thoughts. Be better, and do what you do. If the accolades come, they come.” That philosophy has brought both chefs multiple James Beard Award nominations and plenty of media accolades; and both agree, that feels pretty good.
“It’s nice to be recognized,” Reitzer says. “I’ve been off two years and it’s great to be recognized again. Lee’s one of my boys from way back. It’s great to be recognized together.” And Lee adds, “It’s always a little bit weird. It feels like you’re in a whole other class with some heavy hitters. It’s cool for The Roosevelt. It’s cool for Richmond.” Reitzer says he plans to keep doing more of the same: “We’ll keep doing what we do–buckle down, and keep cooking great food.”
Final nominations will be announced on Tuesday, March 24th, and the awards gala will take place at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 4th. Good luck, home team!
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BUMMER ALERT: Shockoe Bottom will soon be less caffeinated, thanks to the departure of GlobeHopper Coffeehouse. GlobeHopper will say goodbye on February 28th, the day after the business’s seven-year anniversary. GlobeHopper owners were unavailable for comment. Here are some of the reactions to their announcement on Facebook:
- Corey Byers: Very sorry to hear this. I spent many hours in grad school in the shop working on research or studying. Thanks for having such a great business in Shockoe Bottom.
- Rosemary Utz: This literally breaks my heart. One of our favorite places in all of Richmond. The two boys are gonna be so very sad about this.
- Hillary Helland Lancaster: I’m going to miss our special visits to the shop. So many memories of painting, working there, and celebrating momentous occasions there (Christmas, New Years, college graduation, breakfast the day of and after our wedding, bringing our twins there with their Mimzy, Papa, and EE). The shop is, was, and will always be a special place for my family. Thank you Jen, Erin, and Kimmy for making it so special!
- Julie Guild: You will be missed. You’ve been an important place in Richmond for me and I’m grateful for the time you’ve graced us with. I wish you all happiness and goodwill on this leg of your journey. Thank you!
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ANOTHER BUMMER: DC chef and James Beard Award semifinalist Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground and Jonathan Staples (of James River Distillery and Black Hops Farm and several other things) had planned to open a restaurant called Ghost Shadows in the former Belvidere on Broad space, but now they’re not going to. I blame DC. Give us our steamed buns, DC; it’s the neighborly thing to do!
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Did you take a picture of a snowman this week? Of course you did. Quick, go hashtag it “#thenakedonionsnowman” on Instagram for a shot at a free sandwich. The Naked Onion (@thenakedonionrva on Instagram), which recently celebrated their second year of business (congrats!), is calling for your very best snowman photo. You could win a sandwich. A WHOLE SANDWICH!
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Speaking of Crowdfunding, Sydney Meers, the delightfully deranged Norfolk chef is Kickstarting his very own sauce. Meers has been cooking in and around Norfolk for decades. Last year, he was a subject of the Southern Foodways Alliance oral history series. His restaurants have always enjoyed devout followings, as will, I feel certain, his sauce.
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Amid the hubbub of snownews, you may have missed the news that Perk! Coffee & Lunchbox opened in Bon Air this week. But Karri Peifer did not miss it!
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Does driving to Short Pump make you cranky to the point where you simply must have a popsicle? Join the club. Specifically, you can join the club at Tom Leonards, which now offers King of Pops’ beloved icy treats in Raspberry Lime, Chocolate Sea Salt, Key Lime Pie, and Lemon Basil flavors.
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Why, oh why would one of New York City’s most successful food trucks put on the brakes? Grub Street tells us why. Turns out, it’s not as easy as it looks to run a food truck.
This week, The New York Times revealed the truth behind calorie consumption at Chipotle. Turns out, it’s way high. Probably too high. And by “revealed the truth behind,” I mean, “told us what we already know deep down in our souls” with charts! Thanks for making me feel simultaneously guilty AND hungry, NYT! Gonna go wrap my feelings in a tortilla and eat them!
The most corpulent of Tuesdays, Mardis Gras, came and went this week while we were all snow-bound. You may have missed getting pelted with beads at New Orleans’s most beloved festival, but don’t miss Creole chef Leah (of THE Dooky Chase’s Restaurant) Chase’s tips on achieving the best roux for you, via The Tasting Table.
SIP OF THE WEEK: HOT CHOCOLATE
If this isn’t hot chocolate weather, I have drastically misunderstood the whole concept. Our own Hayley Deroche shared some of the best places to find a mug of the stuff in December, and I think now is the perfect time to revisit the list.
BITE OF THE WEEK: CHINESE NEW YEAR FOODS
Happy New Year! No, I’m not three months late; it is, in fact, Chinese New Year, signaling the next year in the lunisolar Chinese calendar. And to me, that means one very important thing: DUMPLINGS. Traditionally, foods and customs during this time signify prosperity, happiness, and longevity. And dumplings, those little bundles of joy, are the perfect symbol of wealth. Lucky Peach online recently exploded with dumpling content, including my personal favorite, a how-to on Har Gow with the still-charming Martin Yan. And if you’re feeling capable and patient, Jau Gok, a type of potsticker dumpling that is synonymous with Chinese New Year in many households, requires nimble fingers and zen-like cooking skills to make but offers great satisfaction as a reward.
The two-week-long holiday is loaded with symbolism and numerology, which can vary by region and even family. A traditional reunion dinner, celebrated with family, is central to the celebration, and the number of dishes consumed at this dinner–either eight or nine–signify prosperity or longevity, respectively.1
Locally, both Peter Chang China Cafe and Full Kee are offering special New Years menus for the next two weeks. The menu at Peter Chang includes Smoked Chicken in Clay Pot, Pork Belly with Bok Choy, and Bang Bang Chicken with Spicy Numbing Sweet and Sour Sauce.
At Full Kee, owner Frank Huynh says the menu is a reflection of the food he grew up eating as a child, including New Year’s Rice Cake with Shredded Pork, Fachoy & Pig Feet with Ice Lettuce, and Sea Cucumber & Black Mushroom with Baby Bok Choy.
So, whether you’re prosperous with eight dishes or long-for-this-world with nine, you win either way.
‘GRAM OF THE WEEK
Prepare your eyeballs for stunning photography and your stomachballs for hunger pangs. Montreal’s Gabrielle Pellerin shares a maddening feed of what might possibly be the best looking food on the internet. COVET IT.