Travis Milton celebrates Appalachian cuisine in southwest Virginia, it earned him a James Beard nomination

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Posted at 1:33 PM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 13:33:36-04

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia chef Travis Milton left the Richmond restaurant scene several years ago and now runs Hickory, at Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards in Bristol, Virginia.

There his menu, with a focus on Appalachian cuisine, recently earned him a James Beard semi-finalist nomination as the Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic.

"Appalachia is a lot more than people think. A lot of people, when they think of Appalachia, their mind immediately goes to poverty porn or opioids," Milton said. "But Appalachia, to me, is this beautiful creativity through that subsistence."

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Examples of Travis Milton's spring menu

A creativity he said he first experienced with his grandmother in the kitchen.

"Looking back on the things that my grandmother would cook, a lot of these things were made because she had what she had. She had to make something with it," he said. "When I started delving deep into it, I started getting into things like the mock apple pies. You know, people were making an apple pie out of Ritz crackers and apple cider and butter as the inside of the pie stuffing, because I didn't have apples. That to me is the beauty of it."

During Milton's extended interview with Robey Martinand Scott Wise on Eat It, Virginia!, Milton discussed the cultural significance of Appalachian cuisine and its role as an economic driver in Bristol.

He also emphasized the importance of investing in local talent and building a strong team with diverse skills and experiences to create a unique and elevated dining experience.

During the conversation, Milton discussed his mentors, his time cooking in Richmond restaurants, and mental health struggles in the hospitality industry.

Before the interview, Scott and Robey talked about new restaurants opening in Richmond (2:07), Scott shared details of his epic Spring Break trip to Buc-ee's and Graceland in Memphis (4:32), Robey has issues with some restaurants near her home (10:21), and Scott and Robey made new friends while having a night out on the town (16:05).

EAT IT, VIRGINIA restaurant news and interviews



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