Looking for a new dining experience?
Try the Taste of Blue Ridge’s Root to Table Culinary Series!
In true European fashion, guests are seated at long tables, where new dishes are tried and new friends are made. The meal takes place over the course of several hours, with course after delightful course served. Many meals are held al fresco on long farm tables, harkening back to old-world harvest gatherings.
You’ve never been to an event where the chefs have so much fun together. Each course throughout the dinner is prepared by a different chef. As it is served, the chef comes out of the kitchen to explain how they prepared the dish and what ingredients they used. They are given free license to cook whatever they want, under the host chef’s vision. They might try a different cooking method or experiment with foods they haven’t cooked with before.
A full, descriptive menu placed at each setting lists the preparing chef, the course description, and accompanying wines. May’s Italian Farm Dinner featured nine courses and six wines! At the end of the meal, guests are quite full, but manage to rise from their chairs to interact with the chefs or linger to chat longer with newfound friends.
The Root to Table Concept
Root to Table is different than the popular Farm to Table concept in that it looks at the roots of where our food comes from. Local chefs, innkeepers, farmers and artisans of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountain Region come together to focus on Appalachian history, culture and community—the true roots of our area—while highlighting the local producers.
Each dinner is completely different: different chefs, different menus, different venues, different styles. Similarly, each dinner features a menu designed by the region’s top chefs with ingredients found throughout the Shenandoah Valley. All ingredients are locally-sourced and sustainable, grown, raised or created by the area’s food artisans.
How Root to Table Began
Nancy Craun, owner and founder of Taste of Blue Ridge and the Root to Table series got the idea when she was marketing for the wedding industry and brides would complain there was nothing to do in the Shenandoah Valley. The problem was, as she explained it, that tourism was promoted by each county, with no cohesive Valley marketing. So she started a comprehensive website.
She also saw that tourism was changing. She began to notice that every magazine featured foods, chefs and culinary topics on the covers. Food and food destinations were becoming the new travel trend.
Craun created a focus group to discuss how food and the Valley could be tied together. “I pulled in chefs, vineyards, food distributors, and a variety of people who were interested in branding this region as a culinary destination. The #1 industry in Virginia is agriculture, and that’s what the Valley is all about.” The Root to Table Culinary Series was created.
In addition to Craun, the action board includes Carissa Zanella, owner of the Hillbrook Inn & Spa in Charles Town, WV; Chef Erik Foxx- Nettnin, head chef of Magnolia’s on the Mill restaurant in Purcellville, VA; Chef Abby McAllister, local resource specialist at Schenck Foods; and Andrew Crush, farmer and owner of Springhouse Farm in Hamilton, VA.
A Food Dinner with Wine
“The Root to Table series is not a wine dinner with food, it is a food dinner with wine or another beverage,” Craun explained. “Our emphasis is around these chefs and their passions, and what they are doing with food.” It is the only chef-driven platform in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“At Root to Table, we look heavily at the culture. How they did it in Italy, but how we do it here in the USA. We avoid the word ‘organic’, which is overused, and instead focus on how the product was raised, whether it is sustainable, and how is it affecting the environment,” Craun said.
The first year, the series featured two events. In 2018, five events. Throughout 2019, ten events will be held. In 2020, Craun hopes to expand the series farther down the Route 81 corridor to Harrisonburg and Lexington.
Each event features a host executive chef who sets the vision for the event and selects the other executive chefs who will be involved. The other chefs work under that vision. In 2019, the host chef was given the privilege to invite a guest chef as well. This year’s main chefs include Chef Erik Foxx-Nettnin (Magnolia’s on the Mill), Chef Steve Ferrell (Hillbrook Inn and Spa), Chef Michael Ritenour (Massanutten Resort), Chef Abby McAllister (Schenck Foods), Chef Marcus Repp (Lansdowne Resort and Spa), Chef Jeff Ault (Bavarian Inn), Chef Marvin Swaner (George’s Food and Spirits), and Chef Sandy Gallagher (Audley Farm).
If you’re a foodie, you’ll want to attend the Root to Table Culinary Series!
August 23, 2019
3rd Annual Root to Table Open Air Feast
Hillbrook Inn and Spa
Charles Town, WV
September 13, 2019
1st Progressive Root to Table Event
The George Washington Hotel
October 4, 2019
Glamping Dinner Georgian and Mediterranean Cuisine
Lansdowne Resort and Spa
October 27, 2019
Down on the Farm Harvest Festival and Pig Roast
Spring House Farm
November 30, 2019
Fire & Ice Festival and Gala
West Oaks Farm Market
Previous 2019 Events included a Season Kick Off Party (March), Our European Root to our Appalachian Table dinner at the Bavarian Inn and Brewery (May), An Italian Farm Dinner in Loudoun (May), and Summer Solstice and Virginia Seafood (June).
How to Attend
Due to the nature of the events, guests must be 18 years of age to attend. Purchase your tickets early—they are limited and the events sell out in advance.
$100-$125 (includes tax and gratuity; Eventbrite fee extra). 15% discount for groups of 4 or more.