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Southern BBQ

A chilly day in January and I am thinking of starting the hickory fire and putting some pork on the smoker.  BBQ – perhaps the most discussed, fought over, and eaten jewel in all of southern cooking. As a  chef of l’étoile in Charlottesville, I may know a thing or two about it. But under […]

Virginia fried chicken

Fried Chicken is a very hard food to write about – as I am sure there have been fights, feuds and who knows what other entanglements that have come from who’s is better and how to prepare this staple. All I know is what works for me, I will not even venture into the how […]

Robert E. Lee Cake

Sitting and thinking about Memorial Day and what it means to us and in particular – central Virginians, I am humble when I say thank you to our Veterans and those who fell in the line of duty. I have been looking deeper into Virginia foods and have found many recipes for a Robert E. […]

Thoughts on Virginia Peanuts

I have been craving Virginia peanuts for many days now, and if I bring them into l’etoile – they do not last long at all. Of course I love out culinary heritage here in Charlottesville and the rest of the state, but the peanut named after our commonwealth are hard to beat. The peanut plant […]

Thoughts on a Virginia Christmas

Here it is two days from Christmas eve in Charlottesville. l’etoile will finish dinner service on the 23rd then it is off to be with family and friends for Christmas. I just thought that I would pass some thoughts on a colonial Christmas and how some of the tradtions are still evedent today. Christmas in […]

Virginia Thanksgiving

Stuffing or Dressing? As I start to plan my menu for my family Thanksgiving a few questions come to mind. Being from Virginia, born in Richmond, and currently having a restaurant in Charlottesville – just who did host the first Thanksgiving? As if the in laws were not enough for you this time of year, […]

Virginia Apples and Cider

I spent the better part of Sunday pressing apples with our dear friends at Red Row farm in Esmont Virginia. It is south of Charlottesville about a half hour scenic drive. Worth every effort – the cider is sweet and so wonderful.   This time of the year, with our weekly delivery of Mr. Henleys apples […]

Fourth of July Hot Dogs

As I sit literally looking out the window from my office in downtown Charlottesville, on West Main Street – I can see Monticello.  I started thinking about the man who started this eat local movement, and the reason for the 4th of July that we all will celebrate this weekend.  I do not know if […]

Strawberries in Virginia

It is that time of year in central Virginia, in particular the Charlottesville area when the first produce of Spring comes to our kitchen.  One of my favorites is the Strawberry, which got me thinking: The strawberry is a member of the rose family, with the most common varieties being a hybrid of the wild Virginia […]


I just returned from a trip to the Midwest to visit family, and the discussion of grits came up – me being from the south, central Virginia in fact. Well, actually our restaurant is in Charlottesville and one dish that is always on our menu is shrimp and grits. As many stars in the sky, […]