Tom Tom prepares for edible events and more local food news

The Iron Chef competition at the Tom Tom Festival pits six sous chefs against each other in the battle for the best dish using ingredients sourced at the City Market. Photo: Tom Daly The Iron Chef competition at the Tom Tom Festival pits six sous chefs against each other in the battle for the best dish using ingredients sourced at the City Market. Photo: Tom Daly

Tom Tom prepares for edible events 

Tom Tom Founders Festival is just around the corner, April 11-17, and as the annual festival continues to grow, so does the list of food-and-booze-related activities.

Farm to Table Restaurant Week

For the third year running, Tom Tom will host a Farm to Table Restaurant Week, presented in partnership with Charlottesville Restaurant Week. More than a dozen local restaurants will prepare prix fixe menus, each putting a special emphasis on dishes that highlight local farmers and artisans. Participating restaurants include Brookville, Mas Tapas, Orzo Kitchen & Wine Bar, The Whiskey Jar, Rapture and Threepenny Cafe.

Craft cocktail competition

Charlottesville bartenders have been upping their cocktail games, and Tom Tom’s inaugural cocktail contest will allow them to flex their mixology muscles. Twelve bartenders will each create a Tom Tom cocktail to be served during the festival, and the drinks must feature at least one locally sourced ingredient. Participants include the mixologists at Lost Saint, Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar, Hamiltons’ at First & Main, Tavola and Public Fish & Oyster, among others. A panel of five lucky local judges (including C-VILLE food and drink columnist Laura Ingles) will be tasked with tasting each cocktail and scoring them on neatness, originality, garnish decoration, fragrance, flavor and balance. The winner will be announced on Sunday, April 17.

Iron Chef competition

A $50 budget, 35 minutes to shop and just half an hour to cook. Beginning at 9am on Saturday, April 16, six area sous chefs will go head to head at the City Market for the title of Charlottesville’s iron chef. Dishes, which must be made using locally sourced ingredients, will be judged by a panel of food celebs. Participating chefs include Red Pump Kitchen’s Reid Owen, Parallel 38’s John Shanesy, Ivy Inn’s Ian Judd, Threepenny Cafe’s Jeff Deloff, Tavern & Grocery’s David Jeck and UVA Health System’s Otis Sims Jr.

Community picnic

Nothing says springtime quite like a picnic, and Tom Tom is hosting an over-the-top potluck meal at Lee Park on Sunday, April 17. Tables set up in the park will be covered in dishes made (or bought—we’re not here to judge) for sharing, and if you don’t feel compelled to join the group, 10 local food trucks will be parked nearby and ready to serve.

Food Business Summit

Thinking about trying your hand in the food-and-drink industry? At 9am on Tuesday, April 12, the Community Investment Collaborative and The Central Virginia Small Business Development Center will team up with Caromont Farm, Farmstead Ferments and Hudson Henry Baking Company to hold Will Work for Food: Creating and Sustaining an Artisanal Food Business. The event, located at the Paramount Theater, is designed to guide aspiring entrepreneurs on topics such as marketing, labeling and accounting.

Morning sessions will focus on startups, and discussions in the afternoon will cater to food businesses that are already established. 

Healthy choice

Raphael Strumlauf says his parents have been making juice since the ’70s, and for months family members have been putting their heads together to come up with a menu of fresh-squeezed and blended recipes. Strumlauf and his father, Steven, owners of Market Street Market, plan to open The Juice Place this spring. The juice bar, located where Cha Cha’s used to be at 201 E. Main St., will serve made-to-order juices and smoothies, plus vegetarian items such as steel-cut oats, yogurt parfaits, salads and wraps. Strumlauf says he’s also been playing around with homemade nut milks and nut butters, and although the menu is still in development, the idea is simple: Keep it organic when possible and always fresh and healthy.

“I want the menu to be really flexible so people can have a choice,” Strumlauf says, adding that customers will be able to decide which fruits, veggies and add-ins (such as matcha powder or chia seeds) they want in their drink.

Strumlauf says the goal is to be open by early May.

Tasty tidbits

Meat for the masses…The Local Smokehouse, brainchild of The Local owner Adam Frazier and culinary couple Matthew Hart and Melissa Close-Hart, opened its doors and started serving barbecue last Friday. Time for a change…The Downtown Grille, a staple on the Mall since 1999, recently updated its menu to include more local items and dishes for non-carnivores, without abandoning its identity as a steakhouse. Beef: It’s what’s for dinner…A New Zealand-inspired gastropub called Burger Bach, with locations in Richmond and North Carolina, will soon open in the old PastureQ spot in The Shops at Stonefield.

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