‘Grow and Gather’ brings local ingredients to Radford
Farm-to-table restaurants have grown increasingly popular in the US over the last decade, and now one local chef has brought the concept to Radford.
Rachel Doyle, a Radford resident and owner of HazelBea Catering, recently partnered with the Radford Chamber of Commerce for the first of four monthly dinners that will be comprised of ingredients purchased at the Radford Farmer’s Market and other local sources.
Doyle said that she proposed the idea to the chamber in August and they began planning almost immediately.
The first event was held at the Radford Coffee Company, and the remaining dinners will each be held at a different location on the first Thursday of the month.
Doyle’s company is used to catering events like weddings and corporate functions, but she has plenty of experience in a more intimate setting from her time in New York City, where she attended the French Culinary Institute and worked in various restaurants.
She said that one of the main differences between the food she cooks for larger events and what she will be doing at the dinners is the way the food is plated.
“Usually for large parties, we do more of a traditional buffet style setup. But at these dinners, the presentation is part of the whole experience,” she said.
Doyle said that she prepared the menu for the first dinner based on what ingredients were in season and will continue that trend for all subsequent meals. To her, menu writing is one of the most important aspects of the whole process.
“Menu writing is almost like another ingredient, it’s an art,” she said.
Doyle said that the first dinner was focused around summer ingredients where as the rest of them will focus on fall and winter flavors.
The four-course meal included a variety of fresh vegetables like: beats, green tomato pickle, heirloom tomatoes from local growers like Graces Garden, Reliant Farms (Newport) and Charles Reed. Each course was paired with a wine from Whitebarrel Winery (Christiansburg).
The main course featured smoked country ribs with peach bourbon glaze, Tasso ham and pimento cheese grit cake, wilted arugula and spinach, with ingredients coming
from Stump Ridge Farm (Pulaski). It was a favorite course of many in attendance, including Radford resident Steve Dickens.
“The ribs are absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “We eat and buy local as much as possible. This is a great thing that they are doing.”
In between each course, Doyle came out and explained what the dish was and where the ingredients came from, which seemed to add to the experience for many people.
Doyle said that dinner was a sellout and many tickets have already been purchased for future dinners.The next three dinners will be will be from 7-9 p.m. Oct. 6, Nov. 3 and Dec. 1. Seating is limited and tickets can be purchased for one or all of the upcoming events at https:// www.eventbrite.com/e/grow-gather- tickets-27425517461.
— This article was originally published in the Sept. 28 Radford News Journal.