Charlottesville may be a couple hours away from the nearest ocean, but luckily that doesn’t stop seafood from making its way into the hands of capable fishmongers here in the mountains. We talked to a few of the guys who are making a splash around town.
Donnie Glass and Matt Wolf
Banyan Day Provisions
Donnie Glass is a beach guy. He’s always been drawn to the water, and he’ll be the first to admit that living in the mountains makes him long for the coast. But for as long as he’s in Charlottesville, the closest he can get to the ocean is sourcing, selling and shucking fresh seafood. Glass has been serving up all things that swim for years, and last summer he recruited his Johnson & Wales University classmate and friend Matt Wolf to join him in the kitchen at Public Fish & Oyster, where Glass had been executive chef since shortly after the restaurant opened. The guys began catering events when they weren’t in the kitchen at Public, and they found themselves more drawn to the events side of the food biz. Before long they stepped away from the restaurant to launch their catering company, Banyan Day Provisions, as well as man the seafood counter at Timbercreek Market.
“We shucked oysters for a big wedding, and that’s where we kind of had this eureka moment and realized, hey, we could do this for a living,” says Wolf. “As much as we love cooking and being within the walls of a restaurant, I think our personalities both play well to catering, hosting parties and helping everyone have a good time.”
Banyan Day Provisions—named after a Royal Navy term for a “laid-back, flip-flop fine dining” kind of day, according to Glass—will cater everything from backyard oyster roasts with a bonfire, paper napkins and Solo cups to winery wedding receptions and other swanky events. When the guys aren’t prepping for parties, you can find them behind the counter at Timbercreek Market on Preston Avenue, home to local meat, cheese, produce, beer and wine, a sandwich counter and, now, seafood.
“It’s mutually beneficial,” Glass says. “It helps them get seafood under their roof, we’re giving them our labor and our intellectual property and, in exchange, they’re giving us a platform to really launch our catering company.”
Glass and Wolf are responsible for sourcing the oysters, scallops, shrimp, salmon, white fish and any other seafood that’s in season, which is on display in the meat case between the sausages and chickens. Fish sandwiches will periodically make their way onto the rotating menu, and for $25 you can order a dozen oysters on the half-shell and a bottle of Muscadet to savor in the shop or out on the patio. The guys are also lending their hands in the kitchen when needed, butchering some of the animals that don’t swim, helping the Timbercreek staff learn the ropes of seafood and answering any questions customers may have about the products and how to prepare them.
“I love seafood, and it’s just sort of what I’ve always enjoyed,” he says. “And when you learn how to cook it early on in your cooking career, you realize it is something that’s more difficult to cook than throwing a steak on the grill to mid-rare, pulling it off and putting it over mashed potatoes.”
After Anderson’s Carriage Food House closed last year, breaking the hearts of anyone who’s ever ordered the she-crab soup or crab-and-shrimp cheeseballs, owner Ted Anderson and his family launched Anderson’s Catering.
To supplement the catering business while they searched for a new permanent location, the family also began selling fresh seafood and prepared items out of a cooler under a tent on Greenbrier Drive. The bad news is, they lost that space. The good news is, they’re in a new one.
On Fridays (11am-5pm) and Saturdays (11am-2pm) you’ll find the Andersons in the parking lot of Charlottesville Oil on Route 250, near Boar’s Head Inn. For more information on their catering company, visit andersonscateringcharlottesville.com/.
Seafood at West Main
Chris Arseneault started working on a fishing boat shortly after graduating from the University of Maryland, and he was hooked. He’s been sourcing and selling freshly caught and butchered seafood behind the little counter—which was deliberately designed to be only a couple feet high, allowing staff to pull out a tray of fillets for the customer to closely examine before purchasing—at Main Street Market since 2001.
Arseneault recently eliminated Canadian salmon from the selection and now sources salmon only from the United States and Scotland. Lump crab meat is another new addition to the menu, and although there aren’t many prepared items other than the crab cakes, cards of websites with home-cook-friendly seafood recipes sit on the counter.
“We’re not chefs here,” Arseneault says. “We’re fish guys and gals.”