“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
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
Midnight snack: Tortilla, cheese, salsa, sour cream
Knife: Wüsthof chef’s knife
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.