Boar's Head chef looks local

He’s been at the helm for a year now, but Restaurantarama sat down with Terry Sheehan, The Boar’s Head Inn’s relatively new Executive Chef, only last week to hear about Sheehan’s initiatives to bring more local food to the resort. Before he chatted with us, Sheehan had just come from a meeting with the Food Hub, where he’d been figuring out how to get more products from local farms and producers—everything from tomatoes to grass-fed beef and honey. 

“Initially, I’d like to get up to 30 percent of our products locally,” says Sheehan. 

Terry Sheehan says he aims to bring one-third local food to the many menus at Boar’s Head Inn.

That’s a tall order for a hotel and resort that essentially has six different food businesses—catering and banquets; room service; The Old Mill Room; The Café; Bistro 1834; and the seasonal Birdwood Grill. A veteran chef of 25 years, however, Sheehan, has lots of experience with sustainable food efforts; his most recent stints were in running The Ahwahnee at Yosemite National Park and the Wachovia Complex in Philadelphia for Aramark Corporation. Aramark a bastion of farm-to-table? Well, yes. Sheehan says the company has been pushing “green and sustainable” initiatives for years, and, well, Southern California is “a little further ahead” in distributing local farm products to restaurants and resorts. In Cali, Sheehan likely never had to schlep himself to the middle of a Home Depot parking lot just to procure some local maple syrup, but he had to do that here recently. 
 
Lucky for Sheehan, though, Central Virginia’s local food landscape is changing radically in part because of organizations such as Charlottesville’s Food Hub. That group strives to offer a steady stream of local products to larger institutions and organizations that depend on volume and consistency and don’t necessarily have a head chef willing to meet a man in a parking lot to get a stash of local stuff. Having grown up in Maryland and Northern Virginia, Sheehan says he’s pleased to see that the local food situation is “getting back to what it used to be,” where products are purchased from the farm down the street. 
 
In addition to sourcing more ingredients locally, Sheehan is also leading the charge to take the Inn’s restaurant menus back to a more regional focus and a cuisine he’s dubbed “traditional with a cutting edge.” Think proscuitto-wrapped country ham. 

V-Day

Unfortunately, if you wanted an occasion to check out Sheehan’s culinary work, Valentine’s Day is out. The Boar’s Head dining event is fully booked for that evening. But there are other options for Sunday. One is the Valentine’s Day Winemakers Dinner at Veritas Winery for $80 per person with music and dancing to follow. New Executive Chef Jonathan Boroughs is leading the culinary team, having recently moved up from sous chef after former exec chef Said Rhafiri departed Veritas to start his own catering company.  Other venues hosting Valentine’s events and specials include Kluge Estate Farm Shop (brunch); The Ivy Inn (five courses, $60 per person); and Fossett’s (“special aphrodisiac menu” offered February 12-14, $89 per person). Call to confirm availability and make reservations.

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