So my first week in Tampa (I use that term “first week loosely because I feel like I am in somewhere in middle of the Hoth system) was uneventful. Uneventful, in my mind, is torturous. I am so used to doing something, anything, with anybody. That’s when I am at my best. So move me to a new town, without a car during the day (my car is in transit), and stick me in my townhome for a week and I might as well be frozen in carbonite (Can you guess the theme for this post?).
Okay it wasn’t so bad, we did have the 4th of July. That was so exciting because we were able to…. Wait…. Wait… UNPACK BOXES. Woo Hoo! Well, I did basically DEMAND that we at least go somewhere to watch the fireworks. While the St. Pete Beach extravaganza didn’t exactly equate to the Celebration on Endor, it was pretty amazing to be sitting on the beach with my wife and youngest son (The Carbonara), watching the sunset, enjoying the atmosphere, panicking to find diapers after he somehow went through 3 of them within 45 minutes (it must have been something that Aunt Beru cooked up), and celebrating our nations birthday.
As I was mindlessly driving down the highway towards Florida, I kept seeing myself as Nic Cage in”Raising Arizona.” No, I didn’t see myself as an ex-con baby snatcher with bad hair (although I did like his shirts). It was more like I saw myself heading down a new highway of my life. This trip was going to be a new adventure for me. I had no idea what the future held. I had no idea what new things I would accomplish, what great events I would experience, what new people I would love, or what new food I would relish (Let’s not fool ourselves, this last point is by far the most important).
I can’t say enough about my time in Richmond. I had life there. True Life. I had 14 years of wonderful memories. I had a band of friends, both old and new, who were always around and involved and kept me feeling loved all the time. I had great experiences with the food scene. I got to know restaurant owners and chefs and in most cases they became friends. I had a fun writing gig that allowed me to explore my interests in the dining industry. I developed a familiarity and an affection for a city that had become a part of me and I had grown to love. READ MORE
On Monday June 25, a group of friends and family will celebrate the departure of food writer Matt Sadler, aka The Marinara, at Pasture Restaurant (416 East Grace Street Richmond, VA 23219).
Over the last decade, Sadler has covered the local dining scene for several publications, including Richmond Magazine, Richmond.com, and RVANews. Additionally, he has hosted numerous “Sunday Suppers,” introducing exciting new cuisine to area diners.
Pasture will toast Sadler’s departure with a special menu inspired by The Marinara’s hypothetical “perfect meal”. Super roast beef sandwiches and fried full-bellied clams will be offered as small plates.
Highlighting the evening, chef and pig whisperer Jason Alley (Style Weekly’s Best Chef 2012, Cochon 555) will be featuring heritage suckling pig tacos for this special occasion.
The dinner is completely open to the public. Reservations are not needed, and Pasture’s full food and drink menu will also be available that night. Just drop-in anytime to say goodbye to Matt. The festivities start at 7 PM.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
Philip laying out the goods
This is an interview that I captured and published on Richmond.com
Hidden somewhere behind all the buzz of the Richmond restaurant scene, Chef Philip Denny of Six Burner is quietly cooking some of Richmond’s most interesting and innovative cuisine. Denny is a quiet and unassuming guy who enjoys spending his free time with his family and friends.
He doesn’t seem to crave the spotlight, yet some of the food coming out of that kitchen is worth giving him the attention that he deserves.
Give us a high level biography. Where are you from? How did you get to RVA, to where you are now?
My family is mostly from Tennessee, and I was born in Nashville. After a brief spell in Texas, my family moved to Chicago where I spent my formative years. I grew up around all the ethnic cuisine in Chicago and fell in love with food. My dad always cooked at home and took us out to eat at ethnic restaurants so I got a good mix.
Chef Philip Denny and the folks at Six Burner would like to welcome you to a casual, home style brunch on Sunday, April 1, 2012. This meal will combine the background and technique of one Richmond’s most innovative chefs.Think comfort food with a little twist. Like other Marinara events, this meal will be served family style.
Six Burner is currently not opened for brunch so this meal will be unique opportunity to try some food that isn’t currently on their menu.
- Fried Chicken “Sous Vide”- 3 Different Flavors
- Belgian Style Waffles
- Served with Maple Syrup, Cilantro Jalapeno Yoghurt, Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce, & Hot Kimchi.
- Braised Greens
- Green Tea Panna Cotta with Carbonated Fruit
*Clamatos, Bloodys and Mimosas will be available at the bar, along with a full bar menu.
Price- $25 a person (includes coffee or soft drink, tax and tip not included)
Time- 12 PM on April 1, 2012
Where- Six Burner Restaurant, 1627 W. Main St
John Maher, from just down the road in Powhatan, has had quite the decade since he graduated high school in 2000. He’s spent time in possibly the most prestigious kitchen in the US (The French Laundry), he has worked under some great chefs, he has worked abroad in Germany and St. Vincent, and he has run his own kitchens in a food mecca, San Francisco. I thought it might be interesting to catch up with John and find out a little more about himself and some of what gets him excited when he is in Richmond.
You have an impressive resume that includes time in Wine Country, Germany, San Francisco and the Caribbean. Tell me a little about the first kitchen you ever worked in?
The first kitchen I ever worked in was a place called Mike & Tony’s in Park Slope Brooklyn. I was 18 and had just moved there with my family right after high school in 2000 and started working at a wine shop across from our apartment called Red White & Bubbly (I wasn’t starting college for about 9 months.) the pace needed a bar back so I picked up the extra shifts. It wasn’t long until I was a prep cook. It was pretty crappy and didn’t last long. It was typical steakhouse fare with the Brooklyn attitude. I enjoyed the wine shop much more.
Who has been the most influential chefs practically (who you have interacted with) and theoretically (who you have studied)?
It’s a little cliché now, but Thomas really taught me to respect every product that came in the kitchen [at The French Laundry (TFL)]. Working the farm really intensified that philosophy as well. He also cemented the fact that a chef is never “too good” to do any job. Many nights in the Commis kitchen were spent, just him and I, peeling fava beans or polishing the tables.
Ryan was one of the Sous Chefs at TFL when I was there. We got along really well and when he was tapped to open El Dorado Kitchen (EDK) in Sonoma, he asked me to be one of his Chef de Parties. He had already started to “take me under his wing” while at the Laundry, but he was even more of a mentor to me at EDK. Since there were a total of 4 TFL alumni with him, all our food was still highly influenced by the Laundry. I had a great 3+ years with Ryan and I definitely consider him to be my mentor. He’s the one who have me my nickname, Johnny Soigné (hence the tattoos.)
Peter Scharff was the 2 Michelin Chef I worked with in Germany at Wartenberger Mühle. He really got me started in the avant garde cuisine and taught me how to use it correctly. We traveled and cooked all over Germany while I was there. It was definitely an adventure I’ll never forget and will always cherish.
As for theoretical influences, Michel Bras for his playing style and simplicity. Ferran Adria for his forward thinking and for pushing my industry farther than anyone since Escoffier. Anthony Bourdain, not so much for his cooking abilities, but because he’s a badass old school rock star chef. Over the last couple years, I’ve been fascinated by the world of pastry, so there are a handful of young incredibly talented pastry chefs that I follow, Plinio Sandalio, Jim Hutchison, Chris Ford, & Ron Mendoza. I also greatly admire Tom Kerridge of The Hand & Flowers. He’s a 2 Michelin Star Chef from the UK who is producing stunning food in a very “pub” like restaurant for very reasonable prices, which is basically what I see myself doing. His food is absolutely gorgeous and I hope to eat there in the near future.
When you do make it home, where are you going out to eat?
My favorite place to eat in RVA is definitely Secco. I’ve gotten to know Tim (Bereika) quite well over the last year or so. I actually met him thru his cook at the time, Collin. He had read a story in the Times-Dispatch wrote on me and found me on twitter. I’ve never had a less than stellar meal there. Knowing Tim and seeing and eating his food was actually a big catalyst in my decision to *maybe* open something in Richmond.
I also live going to Comfort and Pasture. I met Jason (Alley) for the first time at Secco’s guest chef dinner. I spent my last few nights of my Holiday at Pasture over Thanksgiving and loved everything. Jason and his cooking is a huge influence on me, now that I’m coming back to Richmond after so many years away. I think that place will kill it and I’ll definitely be a regular.
My other go to spot is the Roosevelt. I met Lee (Gregory) years ago when he was still at Six Burner and was blown away by my meal. Lee is another big influence on me, seeing what can be done with Southern food and elevating it just enough. I’ve had some killer dishes there. And I’m a huge fan of their bar program. Great beers and really awesome cocktails that rival anything I had in San Francisco.
I really look forward to diving head first into the food scene in RVA when I get back.
With all the places you have worked and visited, I’m sure you have had some killer meals. What were some of those incredible moments?
Over the years, I’ve had some pretty incredible meals ranging from the over the top tasting menus in San Francisco, New York City, and Germany to something as simple as tapas on the water in Barcelona. Picking a stand out is rather difficult, since I believe it’s as much about the food as the moment in time. Sitting next to the water in Barcelona with my family drinking wine and eating tapas for 4 hours is something that I will never forget. A birthday dinner at Jardiniere in SF with my (then) partner and my very close friend was unforgettable. Saison in SF was astonishing (before they got their stars and went insane.) Late night tacos and beer in my kitchen with a bunch of close friends (and fellow cooks.) My going away dinner in Germany was spectacular- it was just myself at the Chefs Table. Peter cooked 18+ courses himself. It was incredibly inspiring, creative, and inventive food.
Paint a picture of what YOUR restaurant will look like….
My restaurant… No labels. No BS. Just rad food in a relaxed atmosphere using technique that, I think, is missing from the RVA dining scene. Michelin quality without all the nonsense that comes with it. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.
I’ve always had a desire to strip away the pretense of fine dining. To bring the level of technique and food of the top kitchens to everyone. I’ve kind of gotten fed up with the political BS crap of Michelin and everything that comes with fine dining of that caliber. Starting out, my dream was to always have a 25 seat/white table cloth/tasting menu only place and charge crazy money. But over the years I think I’ve matured a lot and come to the realization that I don’t need or want that kind of place, as a whole, to be happy or successful. I’d like the opportunity to bring what I have learned over my years in those kitchens to Richmond and help elevate and be a part of an incredible shift in my industry here.
Hypothetically, of course.