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Eat It, Virginia: The restaurants that make Richmond great

Posted at 3:18 PM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 16:06:56-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- We wanted to take a moment to reflect on 2020 and show our appreciation for the people who gave their time to allow us to tell their stories on Eat It, Virginia! Over the course of 25 episodes, we spoke with nearly 40 chefs, business owners, creators, innovators, and in 2020 -- adaptors.

You’ve all worked so hard under the most impossible circumstances. I wish nothing but success for you all in 2021.

We still remember that bright Sunday morning in January 2020 when we arrived at Charlotte's Southern Deli and Tapas and met Nikki and Paul. The warmth with which you hosted us and the incredible meal we shared after the interview was a highlight of 2020. We were so happy to see your engagement photos on social media. Here’s to much brighter days ahead.

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Charlotte's Southern Deli and Tapas

When Michael Smith walked into the CBS 6 newsroom to record Episode 26, we conducted the interview in the boss’ corner office (which would sometimes serve as our makeshift podcast studio). We laughed and sang while recording a memorable and fun podcast. Since the episode dropped, Michael has moved onto Common House No. 2 - Richmond. Find him there – or singing on social media.

Common House is also where you will find Chauncey Jenkins. In June (Episode 36), Chauncey made his second appearance on the podcast. We touched on his new job but focused on larger social issues in Richmond. We are grateful to Chauncey for helping open our eyes.

Jumping back to our pre-pandemic podcasts Shane Roberts-Thomas and her daughter came in to discuss the visit Gordon Ramsay paid to Southern Kitchen Restaurant and their appearance on his show 24 Hours to Hell and Back. Shane has an infectious laugh and we look forward to dining at her restaurant – in person – in 2021. That personality also landed her a spot on Chopped -- an appearance she came back on the podcast in the fall to discuss.

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Shane Roberts-Thomas

One of our most beautiful podcast recording sessions took place in October 2019 (but published in February 2020) when we met D.C.-based chef, writer, and food critic David Hagedorn at Quirk Hotel Richmond. Hearing David’s stories about the D.C. dining scene and his critic’s perspective on Richmond restaurants were enlightening.

The next podcast (Episode 29) published on March 15. A few weeks earlier we interviewed superstar Richmond chef Brittanny Anderson about her leadership Metzger Bar and Butchery, Brenner Pass, and a preview of her new D.C. restaurant Leni. If you follow Brittanny on social, you know she’s a strong advocate for the industry during these Covid times.

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Brittanny Anderson

Once COVID hit and businesses began their pivots, Robey and I reached out to help share stories of those working to stay open. Episodes 30, 31, and 33 featured Lee Gregory (more on him later), Jessica Bufford (Toast, New American Gastropub at The Village), Donnie Glass (Grisette), Michael Smith, Beth Dixon (Salt and Acid Beverage Consulting), Trey O (Soul Taco), Andrew Broocker, Saadia Yasim (Saadia's Juicebox), Ronnie Logan (Ronnie's Real BBQ), Tom McCormack (Saucy's BBQ), and Steve Rosser (Gelati Celesti Ice Cream).

For Episode 32 we went back to an interview with Lee Gregory we recorded in January but could not find an appropriate place to publish due to the virus. We published that interview on April 19 because we wanted to publish something a little lighter than the COVID-heavy podcasts we'd been doing. Following Lee and his restaurants, Alewife and Southbound, on social media showed us he is not just an award-winning chef, but a leader not afraid to say what needs to be said to help those who work in his restaurants.

The podcast took a bit of a pivot in May where, in Episode 34, we said goodbye to one of our first fans -- Nikki-Dee Ray -- as she left Richmond for a new job in Nashville.

In Episode 35, we interviewed Kevin Clay about the powerhouse Facebook group he helped create -- RVA Dine & Drink.

By Episode 37 (June 22), we had our Zoom interview routine down pat. It was that episode that we shared a virtual glass of wine with Michele Wilson and learned all about Ma Michele's Cafe & Catering’s Soul Rolls.

In Episodes 38 and 39 we went to the farm with Shola Walker and Duron L Chavis to learn about their strong connections to the land and the food it yields.

Helen Holmes shared the back story for her family’s Fulton restaurant Ms. Girlee's Kitchen in Episode 40. Have you had their takeout yet? No?!? Try it this week!

Rabia Kamara, aka Ruby Scoops Ice Cream & Sweets, appeared on Episode 41 when she finally saw our DM in her junk mail. We're she found it and even happier that her partly crowdfunded ice cream shop is now open in Richmond.

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Rabia Kamara

The gang from Soul Taco joined us for Episode 42. Soul Taco seems to be one of the few restaurants able to expand in 2020. The hard work and positive attitudes of owners Nar Hovnanian, Ari Augenbaum, and Trey Owens certainly contribute to their success.

We talked about cake pops, Indian food, and illicit love affairs with Keya Wingfield in Episode 43.

Episode 44 saw us venture a little out of our comfort zones by recording a live podcast at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery with Patrick Murtaugh and Kate Young Lee. It was nice getting to know those two and learning about their thought process when it comes to creating the brewery’s next award-winning beer.

Speaking of fun, Scott turned into fanboy Scott in Episode 45 when we interviewed Jim Hamilton about his new burrito delivery business SousCasa. Jim is also the touring chef for a little band known as Phish, so this interview made some waves among our tight community of fans.

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Episode 46 was tricky. We had this great interview with James Kohler that we did back in January or February. Since he works so closely with Brittanny, we wanted to put some space between the two. Of course, if you recall, Brittanny’s episode was the last before the pandemic lockdown and everything changed. We're glad we found a space for our conversation with James and wish him and his team over at Brenner nothing but success as they transition Chairlift into its next life.

The brewery theme which began in Episode 44 re-emerged in Episodes 47 and 48 when we visited Fine Creek Brewing Company to learn about the fine foods chef Sarah Hargrove Tocco makes and posts on her mouthwatering Instagram account and later met Eric Jackson (who works at Triple Crossing) to talk about Uncap Everything.

Acclaimed Richmond chef and restaurateur Jason Alley appeared on Episode 49 to discuss his new job at City Hall to help bridge the communication gap between Richmond restaurants and the city in terms of what small businesses need to stay open during the pandemic. He also opened about his personal recovery and the importance of the organization Ben's Friends in that on-going process.

And that brings us to today! We wrapped the year with Episode 50 visiting Mike Lindsey and Kimberly Love-Lindsey between lunch and dinner service at their new restaurant Lillie Pearl. Mike was our first guest (Episode 01 in February 2019), so we thought it appropriate to check back in with him for the Episode 50 milestone. We’re happy to report Lillie Pearl is awesome, Mike and Kim are great hosts, and their newborn SON is adorable.

So that’s it. We hope you’ve enjoyed listening to the podcast as much as we’ve enjoyed producing them. We’re taking this week off and plan to resume with Episode 51 later this month.

Richmond vending machine connects eaters with ancestors