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.

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

2017 JBF Restaurant and Chef Awards

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2017 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards

Best New Restaurant
Le Coucou
NYC

Outstanding Baker
Mark Furstenberg
Bread Furst
Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Bar Program
Arnaud’s French 75 Bar
New Orleans

Outstanding Chef
Michael Solomonov
Zahav
Philadelphia

Outstanding Pastry Chef
Ghaya Oliveira
Daniel
NYC

Outstanding Restaurant
Topolobampo
Chicago

Outstanding Restaurateur
Stephen Starr
Starr Restaurants (Le Coucou, Serpico, Upland, and others)
Philadelphia

Outstanding Service
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Pocantico Hills, NY

Outstanding Wine Program
Canlis
Seattle

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional
Sam Calagione
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Milton, DE

Rising Star Chef of the Year
Zachary Engel
Shaya
New Orleans

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)
Sarah Grueneberg
Monteverde
Chicago

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)
Greg Vernick
Vernick Food & Drink
Philadelphia

Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)
Kevin Nashan
Sidney Street Cafe
St. Louis

Best Chef: New York City (Five Boroughs)
Marco Canora
Hearth

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY State, RI, VT)
Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley
Eventide Oyster Co.
Portland, ME

Best Chef: Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY)
Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton and Greg Denton
Ox
Portland, OR

Best Chef: South (AL, AR, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, FL, LA, MS)
Rebecca Wilcomb
Herbsaint
New Orleans

Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)
Steven Satterfield
Miller Union
Atlanta

Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX, UT)
Hugo Ortega
Hugo’s
Houston

Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)
Corey Lee
Benu
San Francisco

 

2017 America’s Classics Awards

Bertha’s Kitchen
Charleston, SC
Owners: Julia Grant, Linda Pinckney, and Sharon Coakley

Gioia’s Deli
St. Louis
Owner: Alex Donley

La Taqueria
San Francisco
Owner: Miguel Jara

Sahadi’s
Brooklyn, NY
Owners: Christine Sahadi Whelan, and Ron Sahadi

Schultz’s Crab House
Essex, MD
Owners: Karen and Bob McKinney

 

2017 JBF Humanitarian of the Year

Denise Cerreta
One World Everybody Eats
Salt Lake City

 

2017 JBF Lifetime Achievement Award

Nora Pouillon
Restaurant Nora
Washington, D.C.

Birthdays at the Warrior Retreat at Bull Run

I have the distinct honor and privilege of volunteering at the Warrior Retreat at Bull Run. The retreat is a 2.5 million dollar 11,000 sq. ft. home on 37 acres in Haymarket, Virginia. We invite wounded Warriors and their families out from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Ft. Belvoir Community Hospital to spend 5 days out of the hospital and rehab environment.

I am the lead on the Visiting Chef Program. On Sunday night during each guest stay we invite chefs from the area to come out and prepare extraordinary meals for the wounded warrior and their family. Last night was the Warrior’s birthday dinner with 10 friends and family and I thought I would invite some special chefs.

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Our Chefs from left to right:

Sierra Tyler, USN Assistant Chef to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Warrior’s son, who learned how to be a Sous Chef
Jason Rohrs, USGC Chef to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Ken Gardner, Executive Event Chef Warrior Retreat at Bull Run
Jim Cole, Resident Sous Chef Warrior Retreat at Bull Run

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Each warrior completes an application to come to the retreat that includes about 20 food questions. Gluten free, allergies, spice tolerance, favorite dishes etc. The answers to the questions go to the Visiting Chef to help them design a 4 course meal.

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The Warrior’s son learned what it was like to be a Sous Chef.

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Filet Mignon is ready for searing and the oven.

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Just about done searing and then into the oven.

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There is always prep work.

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Chicken Posole cooking.

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Tortilla sliced up and crisped in vegetable oil.

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Preparing the first course of Chicken Posole Cilantro, Lime, Crema, and Tortilla Crisps

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Plating the salad course.

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Apple and Brussel Salad Pecans, Shallots, Gorgonzola, and a Champagne Vinaigrette

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Here comes the main course.

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Filet Mignon Mushroom Lasagna, Parsnip, Green Beans, and Demi-Glace

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The birthday cake was created by Brenda Wilks with our amazing Bakers on Call Team. Bakers on Call are more than 30 volunteer home bakers who make sure the Warrior’s favorite fresh baked goods are waiting for them when they arrive for their stay. The Bakers on Call have just started supporting the Visiting Chef Program. Most of our chefs are savory with just basic pastry skills. We looked at increasing the involvement of our Baker’s on Call Team and they are now doing much of the custom dessert work for Visiting Chef Night. The Chef is welcome to make dessert if they like, but most of relieved not doing it.

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Everyone had a great time and loved the food.

If you would like to see more pictures from this dinner and other Visiting Chef Night dinners visit our Flickr.com page. If you are a chef and would like to learn more about how you can volunteer and give back please see the Visiting Chef Program web page.

Lunch at Roots 657

Roots 657 Café & Local Market
42301 Spinks Ferry Road
Leesburg, VA 20176
703-779-9657
http://roots657.com/

Sandwiches – BBQ | $

Chef / Co-Owner Rich Rosendale has created a high-end sandwich mecca just north of Leesburg, VA on Rt. 15. Rosendale is an ACF Certified Master Chef. According to his web page he has trained and mentored under famed chefs Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Grant Achatz. With Chefs de Cuisine Danny Sterling and Joe Peroney there is never a time when a chef does not have an eye on the food.

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There is a strong collection of soups, salads, and sandwiches on the menu to satisfy just about everyone.

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Coffee, bottled soft drinks, wine, and tap beer are all available.

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My wife began with the pleasingly different Six Onion Soup. Expecting the traditional thin brown salty onion broth, we were surprised by the creamy richness of this version. It was not overly salty and had just the right savory onion flavor.

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For her entre my wife ordered the pulled pork with a mac and cheese side. Topped with a wonderful creamy coleslaw and BBQ sauce. She loved the pulled pork and would eagerly order it again.

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I could not pass on the brisket sandwich. The brisket comes on a toasted Jalapeno-cheddar roll with a corn pudding side. Chef de Cuisine Joe Peroney told me the brisket is smoked for a minimum of 18 hours. This is some of the best brisket I have had. Super tender with a deep smoke flavor that is not over powering. Chef does a masterful job of smoking the brisket to get the licorice-black shiny lacquer bark that comes from the right combination of rub, temperature, and smoke.

If you are anywhere close to Leesburg don’t pass up the chance to stop at Roots 657 for great food. The best news is the meats and sides are available for carry out by the pound.