The Warrior Retreat at Bull Run’s Visiting Chef Program

Warrior Retreat at Bull Run
16013 Waterfall Rd.
Haymarket, VA 20169
866-227-5853
www.willingwarriors.org

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The stress of endless medical appointments, medications, and therapy wears on our Wounded Warriors draining almost every ounce of energy from them. Many plan and wait a month or more to come to the retreat for its promise of rest and relaxation. The drive from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to the retreat seems to take forever. In the final miles and as they turn into the driveway and see the retreat for the first-time thoughts of hospitals and therapy fade away.

They have seen the web page, read the brochure, and heard great things about the retreat from their Guest Stay Coordinator, but the best is yet to come. Most do not understand how hard retreat staff and volunteers work to give them the gift of memories of good times and normalcy. Memories of their first massage, their first helicopter ride, their first symphony concert, a professional photo shoot to capture the joy of a stress-free stay at the retreat as a family. One of the most memorable events of their stay is Visiting Chef Night on Sunday. Diner is prepared by world class chefs from around the region who volunteer to come to the retreat and prepare extraordinary meals for the families. Most families describe it as the best food they have eaten.

DSC_0010(L to R) PO2 Sierra Tyler, USN and FS1 Jason T. Rohrs, Coast Guard – Enlisted Aides/Chefs to General Joseph Dunford, the 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with retreat Executive Event Chef Ken Gardner, Sous Chef Jim Cole, and a Warrior’s son.

In our mission to make the family’s stay special we created the Visiting Chef Program to introduce families to the restorative properties of fine food. We also believe it offers chefs a way to give back doing the thing they love and that they will quickly learn what many SOWW volunteers know, working with Wounded Warriors and their families is an extraordinarily rewarding experience.

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Today we have 49 volunteer chefs from some of the finest restaurants. Besides restaurant and catering chefs, top military chefs have joined the program. They include FS1 Jason T. Rohrs, USCG Chef to General Joseph Dunford, the 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CS1 Patrick Parigi, USN Chef to the Commander, Naval Reactors/Propulsion, CSC (SW) Matthew P. Susienka, USN Executive Chef to the Commander Naval Service Training Command, MSgt. Jennifer L Medeiros, USAF Chef to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and MSgt. Sarah L Morgan, USAF Chef to the Air Force Chief of Staff.

The success of the Visiting Chef Program is due to three chefs who contribute selflessly. Volunteer Staff Sous Chef Jim Cole is there assisting the visiting chef almost every Sunday. Volunteer Executive Event Chef Ken Gardner is the Lead Chef on every SOWW event and serves as a back-up Sous Chef. And Chef Benedict Zappone who has prepared meals for Warriors ten times. He comes out on dates where no other chef is available, like Mother’s Day and Christmas Day.

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The Visiting Chef Program is much more than exceptional food. For countless families, it is an introduction to farm-to-table cuisine they are not likely to experience on their own. Many cannot afford dining at the chefs’ restaurants. Most of our Warrior guests suffer from PTS and have not been to a restaurant in years. The noise and commotion of a busy restaurant can overwhelm them. The Visiting Chef Program brings that personalized 5-star dining experience to them at the retreat.

My Daddy My Hero Dessert Plate

Many Warriors and family members of all ages don an apron and love the opportunity to help and learn from the chef. The Visiting Chef Program strives to create fond memories that last a lifetime for the families. One of my favorite dinners was for the late Sergeant Scott Adkins who lost his battle with cancer not long after his family stayed at the retreat. The chef taught his daughters how to write with raspberry dessert sauce. I’ll never forget the smile that came to Sergeant Adkins face when his daughter put down his dessert and the plate read “My Daddy My Hero.” It’s not only the families receiving warm memories.

Awesome Bundt Cakes

Nothing Bundt Cakes
21305 Windmill Parc Dr.
Dulles, VA 20166
703-444-4244
https://www.nothingbundtcakes.com

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On grand opening day more than 100 people were in line to get their amazing Bundt Cakes.

Red Velvet Bundt Cake

They have a host of flavors and sizes but the lemon and red velvet are my favorite. The cake is perfectly moist and flavorful. The frosting is smooth and not overly sweet.

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The staff is super friendly and helpful.

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There are always samples to try.

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Nothing Bundt Cakes is a franchise based in Texas. This location is managed by Pastry Chef Emily Carter, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Before taking the helm at Nothing Bundt Cakes she was at the well known Red Truck Bakery in Marshall, VA.

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You can never go wrong with buttercream frosting.

The bite-sized cakes they call Bundtinis make great desserts. They have 9 flavors and more than 40 designs in sizes that range up to 10 inches that feeds 18 to 20 people. The larger cakes make excellent gifts for special occasions or office parties.

Korean Cajun at Mokomandy

Mokomandy
20789 Great Falls Plaza
Sterling, VA 20165
571-313-0505
http://www.mokomandy.com

Korean Cajun Fusion | $$

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The restaurant is in a busy strip mall next to a Dunkin Donuts.

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The menu is made of Korean Cajun small plates. This was a nice deviled egg with bacon and a house spice blend.

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Korean Pot Roast Sliders with Kimchi’d Apples, Radish Sprouts, on a Fried Steamed Buns. The sweetness of the Kimchi’d apples pair nicely with the flavorful Korean Pot Roast. The crispy bun is a pleasant touch.

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The Foie Gras Duck Dumplings with Braised duck, Sesame, Radishes, and a house-made Plum Sauce. This was hands down our favorite. The dumpling had a wonderful flavor and just the right crispiness. The braised duck was the best I have had. The plum sauce was delicious. On our next visit, I will ask for more so I can dip the dumpling.

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The Cajun Cassoulet with Duck, Tasso, Sausage, Bacon, Tarbais Rouge Beans, Duck Fat and Herb Bread Crumbs topping was the most interesting dish of the night. It has a wide-ranging flavor profile starting with the duck fat bread crumbs and diving down into a mixture of Tasso ham, sausage, and bacon.

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Shrimp & Roasted Garlic Grits with Chili, Shrimp, Butter, Scallions, and Lemon. The shrimp was cooked perfectly. The grits had a nice smooth texture and mild garlic taste. The crispy scallions gave the dish a pleasant crunch.

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Fingerling Potatoes cooked in Duck Fat and Roasted Garlic.

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For dessert my wife chose the Lemon Butter Mochi Cake & Raspberry Sorbet with a warm chewy rice cake with a touch of coconut, steen’s cane syrup. She really enjoyed this.

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My dessert was the Beignets with Caramel Sauce. I would not order these again. The caramel was on the plate and I could not get much of it to transfer to the beignet. The cake was good but they were large and we took most of it home.

Fusion food can be gimmicky and is often disappointing. There is nothing disappointing about Mokomandy. Each plate was a well thought out blend of Korean and Cajun. Executive Chef Daniel Wilcox Stevens, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, creates some dishes more Korean and some more Cajun, resisting the temptation to play it safe with  a faux fusion of Korean or Cajun only dishes. The service is excellent. I would recommend reservations since we were there on a Wednesday night and the tables filled quickly. The noise level was in the hard to hear range when the restaurant was completely full.

Flint Hill Public House & Country Inn

Flint Hill Public House & Country Inn
675 Zachary Taylor Hwy
Flint Hill, VA 22627
540-675-1700
http://www.flinthillva.com

American | $$

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A lovely remodeled hundred year old school is home to the restaurant and inn.

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The décor is modern with the brave choice of white chairs.

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My wife started with a wonderful rich Corn Chowder made with Sweet Corn, Bacon, Potatoes, Thyme, and Cream.

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For her entrée she picked the House Salad with Bibb and Romaine Lettuce, Caramelized Grape Tomatoes, English Cucumber, Red Onion, and Manchego Cheese & Sherry Vinaigrette.

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My entrée was the 10oz grass fed beef Flint Hill Burger with Gorgonzola Cheese, Bacon, Red Onion, and Mayo. The beef was flavorful and a perfect medium. Gorgonzola has a bite and is not for everyone. I would order this again but ask for a milder cheese like Swiss or Munster.

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For a side I picked the Mac N Cheese with Extra Sharp Cheddar, Caramelized Shallots, and Feta. Who doesn’t love shells for their Mac N Cheese. The feta topping was a nice choice to mute some of the sharp cheddar.

Flint Hill is in the beautiful rolling Virginia countryside. It is a nice drive on a Sunday afternoon. We arrived early and were the only customers for most of our dinner so I have no idea about the noise level. The service was good but it is hard not be be attentive to your only customer. Now through mid November I would recommend reservations. The changing leaves of fall bring a lot of visitors to the area.

Maxie’s Supper Club

Maxie’s Supper Club and Oyster Bar
635 W. State St.
Ithaca, NY 14850
607-272-4136
http://maxies.com/

Cajun | $$

Maxie's Supper Club

Maxie’s is hard to miss. It’s in a large converted single family home at the corner of S. Fulton St. and W. State St.

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I started with an awesome Crab and Corn Chowder. With the large chunks of crab it was flavorful and the perfect consistency of a classic chowder.

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My wife had the Maxie’s Mighty-Mighty Gumbo with Chicken, Andouille, Crawfish, and Rice.

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The cornbread was like grandma made, perfect.

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For her entrée my wife chose the Cracker-Crusted Oysters and loved them.

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My wife added Braised Collard Greens as a side. She said they were the best she has had.

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I ordered the Shrimp & Grits with a Grilled Andouille Sausage.The grits were smooth and creamy with shrimp cooked perfectly. The Andouille had a great spicy flavor. This is the best Cajun food I have had and probably the finest Cajun food found outside of New Orleans.

Service was great and the noise level was low on the Thursday night we were there. They have 30 minute call ahead in place of reservations and some covered outside seating. They have live entertainment often and a vibrant bar scene.

RAMMY Awards 2017

Here is a list of the 2017 Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington award winners. Congratulations to all the recipients.

New Restaurant of the Year: Hazel

Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year: minibar by José Andrés

Chef of the Year: Tarver King, The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

Pastry Chef of the Year: Jemil Gadea, Masseria

Rising Culinary Star of the Year: Ryan Ratino, Ripple

Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year: Proof

Casual Restaurant of the Year: Compass Rose Bar + Kitchen

Upscale Brunch of the Year: Convivial

Employee of the Year: Joseph Cassis, PassionFish Bethesda

Manager of the Year: John Grace, The Hamilton

Regional Food and Beverage Producer of the Year: DC Brau Brewing Company

Restaurateur of the Year: Ike Grigoropoulos, Dimitri Moshovitis, Ted Xenohristos, Brett Schulman, Cava Group, Inc.

Favorite Gathering Place of the Year: Pearl Dive Oyster Palace

Casual Brunch of the Year: Republic

Favorite Fast Bites of the Year: Cava Grill

Beer Program of the Year: Jack Rose Dining Saloon

Cocktail Program of the Year: Kapnos by Mike Isabella

Wine Program of the Year: Charlie Palmer Steak

Joan Hisaoka Allied Member of the Year: Acme Paper & Supply Co., Inc.

Service Program of the Year: The Source by Wolfgang Puck

Dinner at Field & Main

Field & Main Restaurant
8369 W Main St.
Marshall, VA 20115
(540) 364-8166
http://www.fieldandmainrestaurant.com/

American | $$

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The restaurant is in a nearly 200-year-old home that owners Star and Neal Wavra painstakingly renovated for more than a year. Star and Neal Wavra are not new to the restaurant business. They previously ran the Ashby Inn in Paris, VA where then Chef Tarver King was at the forefront of the local farm-to-table movement.

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The setting and service are first rate.

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Our first appetizer was the Dirty Rice with Carolina Gold Rice, Andouille Sausage, Whiffletree Farm Chicken Liver, and Cherry Tomato. A nice refreshing summertime dish.

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For our second appetizer we chose the Hearth Roasted Beet with Pecan Butter Dust, Sorghum Syrup, Frisee, Charred Cherry and Pecans. The roasted beet was exceptional.

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For my entrée, I chose the Middleburg Montessori Pork Chop with Miso Mustard and Golden Raisin Mostarda. The pork chop is from the Middleburg Montessori School where students raise Duroc and Berkshire breeds of pig. It was tender and moist with a full flavor. Mostarda is an Italian condiment like what Americans know as chutney. The sweet Golden Raisin Mostarda paired nicely with the Miso Mustard for a wonderful balance.

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My wife had the Seared Scallops with Cucumber Gazpacho, Cucumber-Fennel-Heirloom Salad with a Magnolia Vinaigrette. The picture says it all.

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As a side my wife ordered Braised Collard Greens with Hocks. I wasn’t born in the South so I’m not a collards kind of person. My wife and a friend who joined us both raved about them.

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Great coffee from the roaster Black Dog Coffee in Shenandoah Junction, WV.

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Dessert couldn’t come fast enough for us. My wife ordered the Hearth Roasted Peaches with Candied Bacon, Bourbon Caramel Cake and Vanilla Ice Cream. At home, we grill peaches then serve with smoked brown sugar, so I knew these done with Candied Bacon would be awesome. The dish did not disappoint. The soft warm peaches paired with (everything is better with) bacon was wonderful.

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My curiosity would not let me order anything other than the Corn Pudding Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache, Toasted Meringue and Corn Ice Cream. My wife makes a mean corn pudding so I was intrigued with corn pudding cake. I liked it but my brain had issues with pieces of corn in my cake. I usually pick a chocolate cake so a cake with something chewy in it was very different. The flavor was spot on, I just spent a lot of time thinking about the corn. The ganache was great, especially over the crunchy toasted meringue.

Culinary Institute of America trained Chef Anthony Nelson has done a great job with the menu, using locally grown ingredients from sustainably raised farms he has quickly gained a following with locals. Marshall, VA has become quite the foodie destination. Across from Field & Main is upscale grocery and sandwich shop Gentle Harvest, next door is the well-known Red Truck Bakery, and just up the street is the wonderful Whole Ox Butcher which recently re-located from The Plains. Marshall is near the wealthy communities of Middleburg and The Plains, home to discriminating diners who eat out often. During dinner, more than half of the customers coming or going were known to the staff by name. Reservations are a must.

Dinner is served Thursday to Monday from 5:30pm to 9:00pm. They are closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. If you are looking for a nice drive in the country brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 11:00am to 2:00pm. Find your way to Marshall soon, you won’t be disappointed.