Making a scene: Newcomer Tristan Wraight steps into the Midtown spotlight

Photo: Amanda Maglione Photo: Amanda Maglione

A relative newcomer to the Charlottesville food scene, Tristan Wraight opened Oakhart Social with his business partner (and childhood friend) Ben Clore in late 2014, after nearly five years of working toward the goal. But Wraight’s no stranger to the kitchen—he started as a dishwasher at a bakery in high school and worked his way to sous chef at Parson’s Chicken & Fish in Chicago (with a bit of a detour to be a touring guitarist, before returning to cooking).

Since it opened, the midtown restaurant has been getting a lot of buzz for its inventive dishes and attentive service. What will he be making at Oakhart this spring? “One thing I’m very excited about is a charred carrot dish that I’ve been playing with,” he said. And look forward to lardo, various sausages and duck yolks from Sylvanaqua Farms in Earlysville, which Wraight has been curing himself.

Photo: Emily Sacco
Photo: Emily Sacco

Always on the bar
Cheap whiskey shot (Old Grand-Dad, Old Overholt rye, Jim Beam) with a pickle back.

Special occasion drink
Nice bourbon with no pickle back. Any Pappy Van Winkle (20-year, of course), Four Roses small batch or Copper Fox limited edition rye.

Black coffee.

Lunch spot
JM Stock Provision sandwich series is what I want to eat always.

A BLT with great bacon and summer tomato on grilled sourdough is king.

Unusual ingredient
Morita chilis. They are smoked dried jalapeños, sort of like chipotles but with a much jammier, plummy taste.

Healthy snack
Popcorn with nutritional yeast.

Unhealthy snack
Popcorn with nutritional yeast and butter.

Kinder Bueno.

Ice cream. Any kind of ice cream.

Ice cream flavor


Kitchen aroma
Bacon cooking or mirepoix.

Always in the home fridge
Ranch dressing…

Always in the pantry
Dry pasta.

Bodo’s order
Pastrami, red onion and mayo on a sesame seed bagel.

Mustard. Preferably Cracovia. It’s Polish, very vinegary and hot.

Cut of meat
Dry-aged ribeye.

Hamachi and maybe whole fresh sardines?

Greens of any kind. Or baby white hakurei turnips.

Midnight snack
Ice cream.

Korin chef’s knife. The first thing I cut with it was my finger.

I don’t have one and have never used one, but I really want a Searzall.

Cook book
Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.

Hunter Moore (Parson’s Chicken & Fish in Chicago), Michael Sheerin (WD-50 in New York and Blackbird in Chicago) and my parents.

Dream trip
Any beach with my wife.

Food city
Seattle, Washington. So many great inventive cooks and such great produce and proteins. Seif Chirchi’s Revel and Rachel Yang’s Joule come to mind first.

Cooking clothes
Jeans and a T-shirt.

Kitchen shoes
Super Birkis.

Cooking music
The War on Drugs, Queens of the Stone Age, Band of Horses, Kendrick Lamar, Bob Dylan, Tame Impala, The Band.

Food-related tattoos
I don’t have any food tattoos yet but if I did, it’d probably be a radish of some kind.

First food memory
I ate a whole roast chicken when I was 5.

Best meal ever
The Publican or Longman and Eagle in Chicago are definitely up there. I had the gnarliest glazed pork belly with orange at The Publican that I still dream about.

Egg order
Soft boiled or poached and toast.

Posted In:     Knife & Fork,Magazines


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