A protege of not one but two Mount Rushmore chefs, Pippin Hill’s Amalia Scatena has been groomed for success. She spent a year and a half as an intern turned line cook at Palladio under Melissa Close-Hart. Then, starting in 2006, she spent nearly five years with Craig Hartman at Fossett’s, much of it as Chef de Cuisine.
In 2011, Scatena was lured south of town to open the restaurant at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyard, which in addition to catering private events, serves lunch six days a week. Thanks to Scatena, the premier wedding venue has quickly become one of the top foodie destinations in the area, with homey but exquisite dishes like chicken liver pâté, Pippin Sliders with Bundoran Farm’s grass-fed beef, and her already famous Petit Verdot cupcakes, made with Pippin Hill wine.
A short walk outside her kitchen, amidst the breathtaking setting of the vineyard, her kitchen garden is a source of inspiration on a daily basis.
“I like combining Mediterranean techniques with Southern ingredients, to showcase the food without overcomplicating the dish,” she explains.
Close-Hart picked Scatena as her chef-to-watch in part because of her determination and love of food.
“Her passion for cooking was apparent from the get-go,” said Close-Hart. “She has followed her dreams and has worked extremely hard to garner her success.”
Apart from a stint at culinary school in Italy, Scatena has called Charlottesville her home since she was 15.
“Every time I think about leaving Charlottesville to pursue a culinary career in another state, the next best steps are right here in Charlottesville,” she says.
For Scatena, the Virginia Piedmont is fertile ground for a young chef looking to make her mark.
“We’re so lucky to be in an area that just flourishes with ingredients. There’s nothing that we can’t really grow here. As a chef, that’s very exciting,” she says.
Sandwich: The Italian from Feast!
Burger: Riverside burger with mustard, pickles, lettuce
Dessert: Sweetfrog ice cream, with loads of gummy bears.
Cocktail: I don’t drink. I drink Kombucha.
Virginia wine: Pippin Hill’s Sparkling Blanc de Blanc and Barboursville Octagon
Breakfast: Two eggs over easy, wheat toast, sausages, and hashbrowns from Blue Grass Grill
Guilty pleasure: Sea Salt Caramel
Hangover food: Hamiltons’ brunch
Appetizer: Dried fried eggplant from Taste of China
Bodo’s order: BLT on wheat everything
Local ingredient: spices from the Spice Diva