Class act

So much news, so little space! First up is the Charlottesville Cooking School. It’s not a restaurant per se (although you do get to eat what you make in class). Still, Restaurantarama considers this part of our purview for two reasons: (1) more informed eaters demand more from our restaurants and that benefits all of us, and (2) some of you who attend a class just might decide the culinary world is the place for you, and we’ll get to say we knew you when you couldn’t tell a coarse chop from a chiffonade. The school is in the Meadowbrook Shopping Center, next to El Puerto, and it’s the brainchild of Martha Stafford, who says she’s been stewing about starting the thing since moving to Charlottesville 10 years ago with her husband, Philip—he’s the guy who started C&O and the Market Street Wine Shop before selling those businesses to their current proprietors. Recently, Philip has launched Virginia Wine Works with Michael Shaps (for more, see the February 19, 2008, Working Pour).

Dream the possible dream: After 10 years of thinking about it, Martha Stafford has at last opened the Charlottesville Cooking School, located in the Meadowbrook Shopping Center.

After graduating from Peter Krump’s New York Cooking School (now called the Institute of Culinary Education) in 1990, Stafford worked as a caterer, a food writer and an instructor, first at Peter Krump’s and then on the Kings Super Markets Cooking Studio circuit in New Jersey and finally, locally at the Seasonal Cook. Stafford says her classes at the Charlottesville Cooking School will differ from some of the other offerings in town, in that they’ll be entirely hands-on. In other words, you’re going to walk away with some skills. Stafford’s particular food philosophy is about eating fresh, seasonal and local. She says it sounds silly, but she spends a lot of time in her instruction “talking about how important it is for food to taste good.” For example, she says there’s a proper way to wash, rinse and dress greens for a salad, and that selecting fresh, local and seasonal greens makes a world of difference to your taste buds. Currently, the cooking school is offering three classes: The Basics of Spring Cooking, The Basics of Thai Cooking (from Ashley Clarke) and Cupcakes 101 (open to kids as young as 9). But there’s much, much more to come, including a class on Italian cooking from enoteca manager Marisa Catalano. Classes range from $75 to $100 ($45 for the cupcakes). For information visit or call 963-COOK.

Top chefs

A big “Congratulations!” goes out to Bryan Emperor of Ten. The nationally recognized sushi chef was invited to compete in the Creative Sushi Competition presented by the National Sushi Society in Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago, and he won first runner-up. That victory qualifies him to compete at the international level in London this October. He’s going to be representing Charlottesville (oh, and the rest of the United States) in that competition.

As for the Clifton Inn’s chef Dean Maupin, he’s partnering with Linden Vineyards (recently recognized as one of THE places for Virginia wine by Travel + Leisure magazine) for a four-course vintner dinner this Wednesday.

Brunch and lunch

Add another spot to your Sunday brunch options: Beer Run now offers the lazy man’s breakfast (until 7:30pm!). For Downtown lunch, there’s now a quick but healthy alternative: Dragana Katalina-Sun, who owns Marco & Luca in York Place with her husband, has opened Nicola’s Veggies in the little window on Second Street that used to house the noodle shop. There, she serves lots of raw, organic and fermented fare.


If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Eppie’s now has sandwiches on the menu, including a ham “biscuit” on their signature pumpkin bread as well as other classics (e.g., tarragon chicken salad) served on Albemarle Baking Co. bread. Eppie’s menu says, “These should have been on the menu a long time ago.” That’s so diplomatic of them. We would have said, “Here are your damn sandwiches, you sandwich-obsessed Americans.”

Another opening, another show

Finally, Ventana is now open in the old Kiki space on Fifth Street SE, and The Upstairs has opened above Escafé.

Got some restaurant scoop? Send tips to or call 817-2749, Ext. 48.

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