Faces + Places

LOCAL Flavor

Nicole from HDR asked whether I’d write a little bit about my work after I talked her ear off at a recent Art Lotto event – I can go on and on about my job these days.

I’ve been the resident pastry chef at the Local Chop and Grill House for about two months, which means I bake bread and come up with desserts and make ice cream and write in chocolate on birthday plates – “work” that I can hardly believe I’m being paid to do.

Operating in a commercial kitchen has meant learning to bake in a new way. Something I didn’t anticipate about the job is the sheer scale of everything; a mixer that sits on the floor and stands four feet tall, heavy pans that get heavier once they’re full of cream and sugar, and recipes that call for 32 cups of flour or 64 eggs or 16 vanilla beans (delightful!).
One thing that ISN’T big, however, is the size of the raw food deliveries. The restaurant gets a large percentage of ingredients from small local farmers. Being the first one in the kitchen each day, I get to accept morning deliveries from these farmers. The doorbell rings and it’s the goat cheese man, then the bison guys, then the hickory syrup lady, then someone with baby greens.
Each farmer is proud of their product and has a personal relationship with chef Ryan Zale. These items are then put to use that very day, which is why your food tastes so fresh! Peas are shucked, fish butchered, cheese grated, and corn roasted. Pretty cool.

When you dine at the Local Chop and Grill House, you’ll likely note that the word ‘LOCAL’ is used time and again on the menu and by your server. They’re not kidding, and I think you’ll taste the difference that is the result of thoughtful food purchases, seasonal menu planning, and a behind-the-scenes kitchen that just plain has FUN cooking for you.

Don’t leave without ordering some fruit crisp for dessert – I chopped that local rhubarb by hand. 🙂

And if you’re interested in having your own experience meeting and talking with a local food producer, make a reservation for the Chop House’s five-course LOCAL Beer Dinner with Flying Dog Brewery on Thursday, April 19 at 6:00 pm. Harrisonburg’s own Jamie Long from Flying Dog will be on hand to talk about the beers he helps brew.

Rachel Herr is the resident pastry chef at the Local Chop and Grill House and co-owner of Brown Butter Bakery.
All photos © 2012 Rachel Herr.

3 thoughts on “LOCAL Flavor

  1. Mary Margaret – Thanks for linking to our blog and Rachel’s great post! Glad you’ve featured it on your blog!

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