Tucker Yoder steps back into the kitchen

Photo: Amy Jackson Photo: Amy Jackson

“I take good stuff and try not to screw it up.” That’s chef Tucker Yoder in 2013, the year C-VILLE Weekly named him as a rising star chef. It was a humble response for a man overseeing the Clifton Inn’s Relais & Chateaux kitchen, but it was as clear then as it is now: Rather than himself, Yoder prefers the food be in the spotlight. And, in fact, he’s stayed mostly out of it for the last year and a half, focusing on private catering and a pop-up restaurant called Eljogaha. But this fall marks his front-and-center return to the Charlottesville food scene, as he takes over the kitchen at Timbercreek Café, one of the city’s most buzzworthy new eateries.

What’s he looking forward to at the new gig? “I have always been fond of working with local farms and farmers,” he told us. “[This] seemed like a good opportunity to work directly with a great local producer.”

Before he stepped behind Timbercreek’s counter, we asked him to confess a few of his guilty food pleasures and favorite go-to ingredients.

Always on the bar: Water

Special-occasion drink: Vintage champagne

Energy source: Shenandoah Joe espresso

Breakfast: Eggs on sourdough

Lunch spot: Riverside

Chinese restaurant order: Something spicy

Go-to comfort food: My wife’s lasagna

Sandwich: Peanut butter, honey and banana or tomato with Duke’s [mayo] on sourdough

Unusual ingredient: Hardy orange or okra flowers

Healthy snack: Almonds

Unhealthy snack: Beer Run nachos

Condiment: Duke’s mayonnaise

Chocolate: Any

Grocery store cookie: Pepperidge Farm soft chocolate chip

Dessert: Brownie with vanilla ice cream

Beer: Champion Brewing Company Fruit Basket

Ice cream flavor: Cookies and cream or Turkey Hill Double Dunker

Kitchen aroma: Sautéing onions and garlic

Always in the home fridge: Eggs

Always in the pantry: Nutritional yeast

Bodo’s order: Garlic bagel, pastrami, provolone, sprouts, mustard

Salad bar toppings: Bacon

Cut of meat: Pork coppa roast

Fish: Monkfish

Vegetable: Carrots

Midnight snack: Tortilla, cheese, salsa, sour cream

Knife: Wüsthof chef’s knife

Appliance: Vitamix

Cookbooks: Essential Cuisine by Michel Bras and Relæ: A Book of Ideas by Christian F. Puglisi

Mentors: John Haywood (chef at now-defunct OXO)

Dream trip: Cross-country road trip with lots of food stops

Food city: Copenhagen, Chicago, San Francisco

Cooking clothes: Whatever is comfortable.

Kitchen shoes: Dansko

Cooking music: Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, El-P, MF Doom, The Roots (prep), Miles Davis and jazz (service)

First food memory: My grandfather’s popcorn rice—the lightest, fluffiest rice I have ever had.

Best meal ever: Lupa, Atera, Townhouse, McCrady’s, Manresa, Per Se, Alain Ducasse, Sushi Zo, Eleven Madison Park, Noma, Nimb…too many to mention.