New to The Plains: 2kyles

Written by Dulcy B. Hooper
Photos by Callie Broaddus  

When Colleen and Kyle Carnegie moved to The Plains in 2017, along with their three children and four dogs, they fell in love with the community and decided to make it their home. 

“We just love the small-town feeling in The Plains and the wonderful people who live here,” Colleen says. “Kyle and I wanted to work in a business where we would have the pleasure of interacting with the community on a daily basis – making people happy with great food and great service.”

The Carnegies have been in the restaurant and hospitality industry for most of their respective careers. In addition to 2kyles, Colleen is currently president of La Prima Food Group Inc., located in College Park, Maryland. La Prima serves as the location of 2kyles’ bakery and production kitchen. Prior to that, she was director of operations for Ark Restaurants which includes such well-known restaurants as Sequoia, America, Center Café, and Thunder Grill.  

Kyle Carnegie was also at Ark Restaurants, serving for many years as the director of catering. After becoming a realtor in the DMV area, he briefly put his culinary career on hold. “But his love of food and people has never waned,” Colleen recalls.

2kyles originated after a brainstorming session over lunch between  Colleen, Kyle, and Kyle Vermeulen – the other half of the Kyle duo who is now 2kyles’ executive chef.

“We were throwing around a lot of different names and ideas,” Colleen remembers, “and we thought the name ‘2kyles’ was just kind of catchy and fun, even though it didn’t include me!” The team did not have a preconceived notion of what exactly 2kyles would ultimately become. “We just knew that we wanted to have great food, friendly service, and a welcoming atmosphere,” Colleen notes.

Originally from New York, Chef Kyle Vermeulen started cooking at a young age. His wide breadth of experience includes serving as executive chef at Four-Star Blue Moon Café on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and numerous other restaurants across the United States and abroad – and even a stint as private chef aboard a yacht.

2kyles offers a daily menu of freshly prepared items available for pickup or dine-in. They also offer catering to go which can be ordered online, as well as event catering. With dishes like, mini calzones with house-made Pomodoro sauce, grilled peach and burrata salad with crispy prosciutto, and a short rib, aged cheddar, and barbeque bourbon sauce, there is a little something for everyone. The local response to 2kyles has been extremely rewarding according to Colleen. “We have been accepted and supported by the community in a way that we never could have imagined. People have traveled from far and wide to dine with us and have been so generous in sharing their experiences.”

Left: Kyle and Colleen Carnegie outside their shop in The Plains. Middle: Great service is a cornerstone of 2kyles business philosophy.  Right: 2kyles is quickly becoming a local favorite. 

Colleen said that she and her husband are hoping to be an integral part of The Plains community and are committed to giving back to a variety of groups in need. “It is essential to our mission that we make a difference,” she says. The Carnegies support numerous charities, focusing on hands-on, grassroots work.

“Kyle and I are people who love people,” Colleen shares. “We love working in a business where we have the pleasure of interacting with people on a daily basis and making them happy with great food and service.” Colleen describes herself and her husband as “foodies” who love to cook and create in the kitchen. “Our goal is to exceed our clients’ expectations and become a place they regularly turn to for a sandwich, a glass of wine with a friend, or a home gathering.” ML

 2kyles is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day but Tuesday. Their address is 4305 Fauquier Avenue, The Plains, Virginia, 20198. For more information, call 540- 253-2078 or visit 

This article first appeared in the August 2022 Issue.

Rising Culinary Star Joins L’Auberge Provençale

Written by Bill Kent
Photos Courtesy of L’Auberge Provençale

“This is as good as it gets,” Chef Stephen Burke says as he takes off for the fruit orchard a few steps from L’Auberge Provençale’s kitchen. “I am literally that kid in a candy shop.”

At 25, Burke is the youngest executive chef in the venerable Inn’s 40-year history, and he has big plans for himself and for the region’s legendary farm-to-table restaurant.

“I’m cooking bright, light, and even more flavorful,” he says as he rushes about the orchard, examining the ripening fruit for possible inclusion in the evening’s tasting menu. “Farm-to-table is in my blood. I grew up in Broad Run surrounded by farms. As early as I can remember, I wanted to hop the fence, go into the fields, and get into all kinds of trouble.”

His most vivid childhood memories are of helping cook the evening meal with his family. “We got just about everything we needed from the farms around us. I learned to taste as we cooked and to really appreciate the changes that happen from the preparation all the way up to the serving of the dish. I couldn’t believe how good it all was. I mean, I was thrilled.”

Burke has a special appreciation for vegetables. “I know proteins. I like proteins. Guests have a pretty good idea of what proteins should taste like so the best thing most of the time is to keep things simple. But what really impresses me, what really challenges me, what I really love more than anything else, is what I can do with vegetables.”

You heard right: Chef Burke was the kid who ate his vegetables — without prompting. “When they’ve been grown [as] beautifully as we grow them at the Inn, with care, attention, and a little bit of pride; when you can get them fresh off the tree, off the vine, right out of the ground; and when you can take the time to bring all the flavors forward — it’s the best.”

Chef Burke’s love of purposely grown ingredients has inspired him to be creative, even from an early age. “One side of my family is British so a special meal for us was lamb vindaloo or chicken tikka masala. When I cook for myself or for friends, I use Thai and Korean flavors — not so much hot, but warm, so it rounds out what you’re tasting and adds just enough heat to make you happy as it goes down.”

Left: Pork schnitzel with pickled apple and cabbage, calvados jam, and pickled mustard seeds. Right: Layered mousse cake with plum glee, fig, and TCHO gelato.

 As a child, when Burke’s family went out to eat, he begged to be taken into the restaurants’ kitchens. “Going into a kitchen charged me up. As soon as I was old enough to show I knew how to chop an onion, I began to get jobs in kitchens. I staged and worked fill-in jobs anywhere I could.”

Even so, it never occurred to him to take a formal cooking course. “I thought I should get a degree in biology from the community college, but I kept getting calls to fill in, so after three years of missing classes and learning cuisine in some of the best restaurants in Napa, I had to say goodbye to [the degree].”

He had good reason. At the age of 21, after filling in for every position at Litchfield’s, a wine country destination restaurant in the whistlestop town of Bodega, California, his tenure as temporary executive chef became permanent. “It was California cuisine, but with a lot of Spanish and Portuguese influences. I just had a blast there.”

At Litchfield’s, Burke also met the woman who is now his wife. “Kelly was a server and, no, it wasn’t one of those front-of-the-house/back-of-the-house romances. Things couldn’t be better,” he says.

Kelly came with him when he returned to Virginia to work as a sous chef at Three Blacksmiths and The Inn at Little Washington, finally arriving at L’Auberge Provençale a few months before people began to talk about a “pandemic.”

American-born Celeste Borel created L’Auberge Provençale with her husband, Chef Alain Borel, in an 18th-century farmhouse surveyed by George Washington. She says the COVID-19 lockdown came with unexpected silver linings for the business. “We had an uptick in our in-room dining. We had to close briefly but when we were told we could do outdoor dining, we moved the tables outside. So many people were just tired of being inside that we became very busy. You wouldn’t believe it but 2021 was our best spring ever.”

On January 1, 2022, Burke stepped up to become executive chef. “It was like that moment when you take your place at the family table. Not the head of the table — that will always belong to Chef Alain. But, with Celeste managing the Inn, and [the Borel’s] son Christian as the sommelier, I felt like I was home again.”

Burke says that the Inn’s dozen or so local farmers never fail to inspire him. “We get our truffles from Virginia Truffle in Rixeyville when they’re in season — I put them on our flatbread with fruit from the orchard as a really, really intense variation on the Hawaiian pizza. We must have steak frites on the menu — we’re a French country inn and our guests expect it. But we get this delicious Wagyu beef from Ovoka Farm right down the road in Paris, Virginia, that is so good it’s enough to make me stop eating vegetables — for a little while.”

Left: Butternut tortellini-jambon Serrano with fried sage, Virginia truffle, and balsamico. Right: Slow-roasted beets with greens, bleu cheese, hazelnut, dates, sherry, and feuille de brick. 

Nearly all the vegetables on the menu are grown in the Inn’s garden. Though Chef Burke is not a vegetarian, he wants the Inn’s menu to be even more welcoming for guests with special diets, allergies, or preferences. “I have two tasting menus and one is vegetarian and gluten free. I have fun with both,” Burke emphasizes. 

One of his most creative gluten free/vegetarian offerings is his tomato and wild berry tartar. “People are used to tartars of beef or other proteins. We make one that has that wonderful red color with tomatoes and berries and put [it] in [a] puffed pastry shell with a buttermilk sorbet. If you can’t have dairy, we can work around that.” 

Another specialty is Burke’s citrus-cured Hamachi. “Hamachi is yellowtail used in sushi. [It has] a hint of the flavor of ceviche. [The dish] comes with a cucumber-jalapeno coulis and melon. The flavors don’t sound like they would go together but they absolutely do.”

A dish in development for the fall will be a cassoulet, similar to what Burke had when he visited the French castle town of Carcassonne. “I want to make two versions: one with lamb or something really rich and comforting, and a vegetarian version that delivers the same feeling but tastes just a little bit different.”

With Kelly serving in the dining room and Chef Burke’s younger brother Andrew as chef de partie and garde manger, Chef Burke wants to put down roots and start a family. He’s currently looking for a house to buy. Days off are spent hiking with Kelly in and around the Shenandoah Valley. 

In five to ten years he sees himself opening his own restaurant, and, if all goes well, shooting for a Michelin star. 

“But I don’t think about the future that much because I am doing what I’ve always wanted to do with the best people helping out and loving it as much as I do, in one of the most beautiful places in the world. It doesn’t get any better,” Burke says. ML

L’Auberge Provençale is located at 13630 Lord Fairfax Hwy, White Post, Virginia, 22620. For more information call (540) 837-1375 or visit 

This article first appeared in the August 2022 Issue.

New Culinary Talent at Salamander Resort & Spa 

Written by Lia Hobel
Photos by Michael Butcher 

Over the last two years, the Salamander Resort & Spa has welcomed new culinary talent to Market Salamander and Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill. Get to know the chefs who are using their wide array of skills to carefully curate every delightful bite at Salamander Resort & Spa in an exclusive Q&A with Middleburg Life.

 From left to right: Pete Smith, Jean Baptiste-Lawson, and Jose Linares in Salamander Resort & Spa’s culinary garden. 

Pete Smith, Executive Chef at Market Salamander

Market Salamander has been around for a few years, but Jacksonville, Florida, native Chef Roderick “Pete” Smith has added a distinct southern pizazz since joining the team. Smith graduated from the Southeast Institute of Culinary Arts in St. Augustine in 2000. At the age of 22, Smith became the chef de cuisine at Medure in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, making him the youngest Black chef to run a Forbes Four-Star, AAA Four-Diamond restaurant in Florida. With over 22 years of professional experience, Smith has mastered a wide range of responsibilities in the culinary industry.

ML: What brought you to Salamander?

PS: My culinary brother and good friend Chef Bill Welch is the executive chef at Salamander Resort & Spa. We used to work together at Sea Island Resort in southeast Georgia. [When] I told him [that] my dream job was to have a market that sells local products and produce, makes cool, gourmet sandwiches, creates tasting menus, executes incredible catering, and teaches cooking classes, Bill told me he had the perfect place for me. And, that it was a Black-owned business. I met Ms. Sheila Johnson and some of the leaders on the Food and Beverage Team and knew it was where I was supposed to be. 

ML: What inspires your cooking style? 

PS: I’ve been lucky and blessed to do this for a long time now. Working in multiple places around the country as well as internationally and owning a couple of restaurants has provided endless inspiration. My style varies, but I do tell people I specialize in international cuisine with Southern and French techniques. 

ML: What is your most memorable experience as a chef?

PS: The Jacksonville 2005 Super Bowl and the Miami 2007 Super Bowl. I’ll never forget cooking for everyone. It was an incredible experience working [for], meeting, and hanging out with celebrities as well.

ML: What do you enjoy most about working in Middleburg? 

PS: The community is very welcoming, supportive, and transparent. The locals here have been nothing but supportive and loving to me and my family.

ML: What are your signature creations?

PS: Foie gras BBQ short ribs, waffle soufflé, pimento cheese risotto, truffle fried black-eyed peas, and low country blue crab tartare, just to name a few. And, of course, we can’t forget the southern fried chicken and shrimp & grits.

ML: How have all your past cooking experiences shaped you? 

PS: It’s a non-stop learning process. I’m more understanding, relatable, humble, and consistent. You have to always be willing to learn more. 

ML: Do you have any other favorite spots in Hunt Country?

PS: Market Salamander for breakfast and lunch, Field & Main for dinner, Stone Tower Winery and Cana Vineyards for wine and lunch, Front Porch for drinks and music outside, Chrysalis and Teddy’s for good pizza, Knead Wine for upscale pizza, and The Rail Stop for classic (old school) dishes. I have a long way to go and have a lot more to experience.

ML: Anything more you’d like to share with readers?

PS: I am very passionate about the history of food and I am highly addicted to gummy candies and French fries.

Jose Linares, Chef De Cuisine at Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill

Born and raised in San Salvador, El Salvador, Jose Linares grew up enjoying an abundance of street food and traditional homemade recipes. He joined the culinary team in December 2020 as chef de cuisine of Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill. He brings with him a distinctive approach to food and enjoys using local ingredients and international cooking techniques.

At 16 years old, Linares moved to the U.S. where he attended Monroe Technology Center in Leesburg for his last two years of high school. During that time, he participated in an exchange program with a sister school in Frankfurt, Germany. This helped him hone fundamentals of European cooking techniques.

Linares went on to attend Stratford University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Culinary and Hospitality Management. While in school, Jose started his professional career with the Four Seasons Hotels in Washington D.C. His kitchen talents have taken him all over the globe to various luxury properties including Jumeirah Beach in Dubai.

ML: What do you enjoy most about working in Middleburg? 

JL: I really like the fact that I’m surrounded by so many cool farms, dairy farms, wineries, [and] breweries. I feel like that is the dream for many chefs. We are in the heart of the wine and horse country in Virginia, and it is something very different from what I was used to and I love it. 

ML: What inspires your cooking style? 

JL: I would have to say that the main driver is to create menus seasonally. I get the most inspiration from what is available in the season and the reason why is because I get to pick the best ingredients at the time, resulting in very interesting dishes and flavors. I also really enjoy the sense of tradition and history when it comes to cooking, and different countries and cultures have their own approach in this sense. I have been able to travel and see many different styles of food but concentrating them into the dining experience is very inspiring. 

ML: Do local ingredients influence your cuisine?

JL: Definitely! Understanding your local ingredients and regional foods is super important both in the creative process as well as when you are sourcing the ingredient itself. And as I mentioned before, Middleburg provides the right location to get some of the best products in Virginia.

ML: What is your favorite dish to create and why?

JL: Foie gras has always been an ingredient that I enjoy working with because you can go very seasonal or very classic. Working in between the two makes it a nice yet challenging dish. This particular dish has allowed me to utilize sweeter ingredients in a more savory preparation. Whether it is a cold or hot preparation, foie gras is very versatile. 

ML: How have all your past cooking experiences shaped you? 

JL: As a cook, I learned through what I was told at the time. A recipe, a technique, an ingredient, how to be clean, the importance of certain things that might not be so obvious at the beginning of your career. There are a lot of mistakes involved, and it’s the lessons following them which shape you the most. For example, as a “green cook,” I remember one time my chef came to me and said that I was a very hard worker. But, he didn’t necessarily mean it as a good thing. He said he wanted me to work “smarter” rather than “harder,” and that stuck with me. My chef not only pointed out that I needed to be smarter, but he showed me how. That made me a better, cleaner, faster, more organized cook. Those lessons are very, very important.

ML: Do you have any other favorite spots in Hunt Country?

JL: I like how the area has become so diverse and so trendy without losing its character. A few of my favorites are Great Country Farms, Long Stone Farm, and Locksley Farmstead. They all produce truly top-shelf quality products.

ML: After working all over the world, what is it like to return to Loudoun? What initially brought you to the area at the age of 16? 

JL: Well, initially I moved to the area back when I was 16 because [I had] family [members who were] already living here. It was easy to settle here with my mother, brother, and sister. A few years later after living abroad, I wanted to come back home and also keep working in Washington, D.C. For example, all that I learned in Dubai, from techniques and ingredients to simply how some things were done over there, was very useful here. The knowledge that I’ve learned throughout my travels still helps me when I’m writing menus or creating new dining experiences.

ML: What has been one of your most memorable experiences as a chef? 

JL: I have been lucky to have had the opportunity to work with various chefs and cook for very important people including celebrities like the Rolling Stones, Michelle Obama, and President Joe Biden.

ML: Tell us a bit more about Harrimans and the experience for guests?

JL: At Harrimans, we try to provide a service in which an experience is created. We have many guests that come to celebrate special occasions and we also have our regulars that visit us on a weekly or monthly basis. We try to stay as approachable as possible from a humble yet sophisticated fried chicken dish to some of the best oysters on the East Coast, caviar service, truffles, etc. 

ML: What do you do in your free time? 

JL: If I’m not talking about cooking, I really enjoy history, spending time with my family and friends, and traveling. More recently I got myself a kitten named Sumy (her name comes from Sumac which is my favorite spice!) and she keeps me pretty busy when I’m not at work.

Jean Baptiste-Lawson, Head Baker at Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill

A native of Paris, France, Jean Baptiste-Lawson developed a love of baking a decade ago and has since honed the art of bread making. He joined Salamander’s pastry team in July 2021 and is responsible for all the bread that is used in various dishes at the resort and sold at the Market.

Chef Baptiste-Lawson attended the French baking school École Professionnelle de Boulangerie et Pâtisserie in Champigny-sur-Marne where he specialized in the production of artisan breads, gourmet pastries, and high-end chocolates. He moved to the United States in 2015 to begin his career as a baker at Fresh Baguette in Rockville, Maryland, where he was responsible for mixing, shaping, and baking bread and pastries.

ML: What brought you to Salamander?

JBL: I was curious about working at a luxury hotel property. I had initially applied to be a pastry chef because that was the position that was open. When they told me they really needed a baker, I was excited because baking is where my passion is.

ML: July marks your one year anniversary at Salamander? How would you describe your experience? 

JBL: It has been fun and challenging. The pastry equipment is not meant for traditional bread baking, so it has been a fun challenge learning how to adapt to making bread with pastry equipment.

ML: What do you enjoy most about working in Middleburg?

JBL: I start work at 1 a.m. every day so I enjoy how peaceful and calm the town is when I am coming to work. 

ML: Tell us a bit about the art of bread making? What is your favorite type of bread to bake and why?

JBL: My favorite type of bread to make is a traditional baguette. You have to be very patient when making a baguette and it requires more skill than loaves. The total process to simply make the dough is two hours. That does not account for baking time. It is a lengthy but rewarding process.

ML: When was your last visit to Paris? Any future travel plans?

JBL: My last visit to France was for a month in March. I plan to go back for two weeks in September.

ML: What has been one of your most memorable experiences as a baker?

JBL: Back when I was beginning my career, I was doing an internship working 40 hours a week for two months. On my last day, my payment was five small pastry cakes. I was disappointed, but I learned a lot and can laugh about the experience now.

ML: When did you realize that baking was your passion? Did it come naturally?

JBL: When I started working in a kitchen, one of my friends who owned a bakery nearby would ask me to help. I took every opportunity I could to bake and learn. Baking came very naturally to me.

ML: What do you do in your free time?

JBL: I enjoy seeing my cousin who lives nearby, and we love to cook together. Cooking is one of my passions and I enjoy doing that when I am at home.

ML: Anything more you’d like to share with our readers?

JBL: I was born in Togo but grew up in France. I love to travel and hope to visit Togo soon to see my family. ML

This article first appeared in the August 2022 Issue

Three Dishes To Impress Your Guests at Your Next Summer Soirée

Three Dishes To Impress Your Guests at Your Next Summer Soirée

Calling all aspiring home chefs! We’re bringing you three show-stopping dishes to make your guests feel like they are dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
If your idea of dinner is something quick and simple, you may be in over your head with these recipes. But don’t fret if it’s too much work for you — the professionals who created these masterpieces are available to offer their services locally.

Cucumber-Tomatillo-Melon Gazpacho with Poached Prawns and Crème fraîche Snow

Recipe by Jessica Shields | Photos by Jennifer Gray

Serves 4

This zingy and refreshing soup is perfect for a hot summer day. A wonderful first-course for a garden party or a healthy midweek simple supper.

For the gazpacho:

• 4 small tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed

• 1 English cucumber, peeled and deseeded, chopped

• 1 1⁄2 cups, chopped honeydew melon

• 1⁄2 poblano pepper, deseeded

• 1⁄2 bunch of green onions, green parts only, chopped

• 1⁄4 cup mint leaves, picked
• 1 lime, juiced
• 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
• 1 1⁄2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil • Salt and pepper to taste
• 1⁄4 cup crème fraîche

First, line a small bowl with wax paper or plastic wrap, add the crème fraîche and fold the wax paper or plastic wrap over the top of the crème fraîche and place in the freezer until solid.

Then, put all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. If it is too sour from the tomatillos, add more melon. If it is too sweet, add some more cucumber and tomatillos. Once you have reached the desired taste, pour into a container and cover, storing in the fridge to chill thoroughly.

For the prawns:

  • 8-12 large peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 cup rose wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 fennel bulb chopped
  • 1 shallot chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 lemon half
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 half of a lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients except the shrimp in a small or medium-sized pot and put on high heat to bring to a boil. Once boiling, add shrimp and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until just cooked through —the shrimp will be bright pink, about 5 mins. While the shrimp are cooking, make an ice water bath and set it aside. Once shrimp are cooked, add them to the ice water bath to rapidly stop the cooking process. Remove from the ice bath to a small bowl and add the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt, and pepper. Toss to coat and set aside.

When ready to serve, pour or ladle some of the gazpacho into a cup or bowl. Garnish with additional diced cucumber or melon if desired, and any edible flowers or herbs such as mint or cilantro. Place two to three prawns either on the edge of the bowl to dip in the soup or place in the center of each bowl, whichever works best for your cups or bowls. Then remove the crème fraîche from the freezer and with a microplane or fine grater, grate the frozen crème fraîche over the chilled soup for a wonderful creamy cold garnish that is perfect with the acidic and slightly sweet soup. Enjoy immediately!

Beef Carpaccio With Grilled Romaine Hearts Anchovy-Horseradish Remoulade Sauce, Parmesan Crisps, Quail Eggs, and Tomato Confit

Recipe by Jessica Shields

Photos by Jennifer Gray

Serves 4

This dish is a beautiful play on a grilled caesar salad which pairs perfectly with very thin beef carpaccio, creating a memorable dish for any special gathering.

• 1 sirloin steak, about 10 oz., preferably local and organic
• 2 baby heads of romaine, outer leaves removed
• 8 quail eggs, hard-boiled
• 2 tablespoons sourdough crumble
• 6-8 girkins, sliced lengthwise
• 12-16 cherry tomatoes, confit, recipe follows
• 2 tablespoons remoulade sauce, recipe follows
• 1 parmesan crisp
• Edible flowers and herbs to garnish
• Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, to finish
• Extra virgin olive oil

Beef Carpaccio

For the carpaccio:
Slice the steak horizontally in thirds, creating three thin steaks. Place a layer of plastic wrap over a large cutting board and place the three steaks on top of the plastic. Place an additional layer of plastic over the steaks to cover and tuck the plastic under the cutting board to secure. With a meat tenderizer/mallet, pound the steaks until evenly thin, about 1⁄8 inch. Do not worry too much about the shape of the steak as you can trip and shape it later.

Once the steak is evenly pounded and very thin, decide what plate you will be serving on. The easiest way to plate it is to do a thin layer, fitting pieces of steak together, over the entire center of the plate, and then place all garnish-es on top of the steak. We chose to do a ring of carpaccio for this recipe, which is beautiful but labor-intensive. Use a sharp ring mold or hand cut the center circle of the carpaccio and use those pieces to continue to make the ring on the next plate. Once all the plates have the desired carpaccio shape, brush the beef with some olive oil and cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it while preparing the other ingredients.

Hard-Boiled Quail Eggs:
Place a small pot of water on high heat and bring to a boil. Place the quail eggs in the boiling water carefully with a slotted spoon and cook for 4 mins. While the eggs are cooking, prepare an ice-water bath and set it aside. When 4 mins are up, using the slotted spoon, place the cooked eggs in the ice-water bath to stop the cooking process. Peel and slice in half lengthwise and set aside.

Parmesan Crisps:
Using a micro plane or fine grater, grate 1 cup of parmesan cheese. Using a Silpat pad on a sheet tray, sprinkle a thin layer of parmesan in any desired shape (disc, rectangle, etc) and bake at 350 degrees until light and golden, about 5-8 mins. Allow to cool and set aside until ready to use.

Remoulade Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped cornichon
  • 1 teaspoon capers, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh or dried tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh horseradish, grated on a microplane
  • 1-2 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 1 dash hot sauce, or to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Mix all ingredients together and season to taste.

Sourdough Crumble:
Cut the crust off of some nice sourdough bread. Tear into small pieces, and toss with a good amount of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake on a sheet tray at 350 degrees until beautifully golden brown and crunchy. Allow to cool. In a food processor, pulse the croutons until a nice golden, crunchy crumble forms. Put in a small bowl and hold until needed.

Tomato Confit:
Put a small pot of salted water on high heat. Slice a tiny “X” on the bottom of the cherry tomatoes. Once water is boiling, Place the tomatoes in the water for about 1 minute until the skin begins to peel off. Make an ice water bath, and shock the tomatoes in the ice water. Then one by one, peel the skin off of the tomatoes. In the same small pot that the water was in, clean it and add about an inch of good olive oil to it. Add a couple of cloves of crushed garlic, a sprig of rosemary, and thyme, and place the tomatoes into the oil. Place on very low heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool. At this point, the tomatoes can be used or stored in a jar with the oil for up to a month.

Grilled Romaine Hearts:
Slice the romaine hearts in half lengthwise, peel off outer leaves until you have a small, tight romaine heart. Brush these with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a grill on high heat, and grill the romaine on the sliced side until charred. Remove from the grill and set aside until needed.

Remove the plates with the steak carpaccio from the refrigerator. Season the beef liberally with finishing salt and fresh cracked pepper. Arrange 1 half romaine heart on the plate, followed by a few quail eggs, a few cherry tomatoes, some sourdough crumbles, and some remoulade sauce. Garnish with a parmesan crisp, some edible flowers and herbs, and sliced gherkins. Serve immediately and Enjoy! 

Contact local private chef and event planner Jessica Shields at [email protected] 

Individual Cherry Almond Baked Alaska

Recipe and photos by Kaitlin Hill

Velvety ice cream, delicate sponge cake, and toasty meringue are all the makers of a memorable dessert. My version of Baked Alaska starts with a no-churn, homemade, cherry ripple ice cream that sits on a delicate almond cake and is topped with a generous slathering of marshmallow meringue. You can make this into one large cake, but minis are much more manageable to assemble and add an element of elegance when serving at a dinner party. Make and toast the meringue just before serving to ensure an extra-crisp exterior and cloud-like interior. Top the Baked Alaskas with edible flowers or fresh cherries for a celebration of summer on a plate.

Serves: 10
Time: 1 hour, plus freezing overnight


Cherry Ripple Ice Cream:

• 1 1/3 cups of frozen, pitted cherries
• 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
• 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
• 1 (14 ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
• 1 cup of whole milk
• 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract 
• 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt

Almond Cake:

  • 300 grams of almond paste
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 11 tablespoons of butter, at room temperature
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt


  • 3 eggs white
  • ¾ cup of granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar

Special Equipment: 1.5 inches deep by 3 inches in diameter dome silicone molds


First, make the ice cream. In a small saucepan, combine the frozen cherries and sugar. Cook for 8–10 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When the cherries are thick and jam-like, set aside to cool completely.

To make the ice cream base, beat the

heavy whipping cream in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, whisk the whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla together until combined. Gently fold the milk mixture into the whipped cream, being careful not to deflate the whipped cream. Next fold in the cooled cherry jam.

Scoop the cherry ice cream into the round silicone molds (mine were 2-inch rounds), leaving a quarter-inch of space at the top. Transfer the silicon molds to the freezer and freeze overnight.

The next day, spray a rimmed half sheet pan or 14×9 inch jelly roll pan with nonstick spray and line it with parchment. Preheat your oven to

Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together the almond paste, sugar, and butter until light and fluffy, about 3 – 4 minutes. With the mixer speed on low, add in the eggs one at a time scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Add in the vanilla. Mix in the flour and salt until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly to the edges.

Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 15 – 18 minutes until it springs back to the touch and is lightly golden. Set aside to cool. When the cake has cooled, take a round cookie cutter that matches the diameter of the molds and cut circles of cake to place on top of the ice cream in the silicone molds. Press down gently.

Return the ice cream to the freezer while you make the meringue. Place a few inches of water into a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Set a heatproof bowl over the pot with water and add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl. Whisk vigorously until the egg whites are fluffy and warm to the touch. Now, using a hand or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, begin to whip the egg whites on medium speed. Add the vanilla and cream of tartar, and turn the speed to high. Beat the egg whites for 6 – 8 minutes until soft peaks form.

Preheat the broiler.

Remove the ice cream from the freezer, and pop each baked Alaska out of its mold. Arrange them on a cookie tray and cover each with a scoop of meringue. Using an offset spatula spread the meringue around the ice cream covering it entirely. Transfer the individual baked Alaskas to the oven and broil for 2 – 3 minutes until the meringue is toasted. Don’t walk away during this step or they might burn.

Once toasted, serve immediately!

Cook’s notes:

If you don’t have domed silicone molds, you can freeze the ice cream in muffin trays lined with muffin liners. Once frozen, just peel the liners off and proceed with adding the almond cake bottoms. Alternatively, you can freeze the ice cream in a bread pan and use a two-inch ice cream scoop to top the almond cakes with a mound of ice cream before covering with meringue. ML

This article first appeared in the August 2021 Issue.

Hot New Eateries



By Chelsea Moore

From bubble tea to wild-caught fish, there are hot new eateries popping up throughout Hunt Country. Whenever you’re ready for a summer foodie staycation, we’ve got your stops covered with three new destinations.

The Market at Bluewater Kitchen

Bluewater Kitchen is doing it again. Although they started as a full-service catering and events company in 2013, they have grown far beyond exclusively catering. They are opening a new seafood and meat shop with the same high quality and attention to detail customers have come to expect from them.

Co-owners and husband-and-wife team Christina and Michael Kozich opened The Market at Bluewater Kitchen in Upperville’s old country store in November 2019 as an expansion of their catering business. Customers could choose from the hot order menu or purchase prepared dinners to eat at home. But during COVID, the shop turned into a local grocery store out of necessity. Customers were asking to buy products directly off the menu as a way of avoiding the grocery store, which got the Kozichs thinking about expanding their offerings.

“People would ask, ‘Can we just buy the fish raw from the fish sandwich, instead of going to the grocery store?’” Christina said.

When the stone building next door became available, they decided to open up a seafood and meat market, giving their customers the opportunity to buy high-quality fish and meat directly from their expanded market.

“Everybody in the area has to drive to Gainesville or Leesburg to go to Wegmans to get good seafood,” Michael said.

Two sustainable seafood markets — Blue Ocean Market Fresh Seafood in Morehead City, North Carolina, and Harbor Docks Seafood Market in Destin, Florida — will ship their fresh catches of the day overnight to Bluewater multiple times a week. While Bluewater will have some consistent offerings, like salmon and gulf shrimp, they will have a rotating selection of fish based on whatever is migrating at the time.

“It’s fresh, wild-caught seafood,” Michael said.

For their meat offerings, they will have both high-quality and everyday steaks. They will stock pork chops, sausage, and other pork products, as well as chicken from Long Stone Farm in Lovettsville. Some steaks will be sourced from Ovoka Farm in Paris, Virginia.

Bluewater’s meat selection is designed to make small dinner parties and family dinners simple, healthy, and delicious. Pick up what you need and cook it at home — or don’t. If you aren’t comfortable cooking something at home, they will cook it for you at the market.

“When we started catering events in 2013, our goal was to showcase the amazing products be- ing produced in the immediate area and the people behind them,” Christina said. “We will never lose that hyper-local focus. It will always be part of our platform, but we will also be highlighting artisans and farmers, not in the immediate area, who are stewards of the land and waterways, doing their part to responsibly raise and cultivate their products. They supply us with quality items, and our culinary team is inspired to create tasty dishes.”

The Kozich’s favorite part of all of this? “Being a positive part of the community,” Christina said. “Thank you to Upperville for the support,” Michael said. “We wouldn’t be here without them. We hope the residents are proud to have both shops in the area.”

As of the writing of this article, there is no firm opening date. Some of the equipment needed to open the shop has been delayed because of COVID. The Kozichs are keeping their fingers crossed and hope to open the seafood and meat market sometime in mid-August.

The Market at Bluewater Kitchen is located at 9036 John S Mosby Hwy, Upperville, Va. Learn more by visiting

Empress Pearl Tea

A peaceful oasis in the center of Purcellville, Empress Pearl Tea opened on June 14, giving Loudoun residents a little taste of Taiwan. The powerhouse duo that brought us Petite LouLou Creperie, Dusty Lockhart, and Stefano Frigerio, is back with Empress Pearl Tea as their second restaurant. It is located in the same shopping center as the town’s beloved Petite LouLou and has been met with just as much favor.

“For our first day, our soft opening, we had a line all the way out the door for four hours,” Mark Goings, one of the supervisors, said. “I made 475 drinks in four hours.”

He credits the shop’s popularity to the unique taste of its drinks. The shop’s commitment to staying true to the original taste of bubble tea makes it stand apart from other bubble tea locations. Before opening, the team did bubble tea tastings at other shops, and Empress Pearl Tea’s unique flavor and fun toppings make the drinks all the more exciting.

Bubble tea, or boba, is a Taiwanese beverage. While all of Empress Pearl Tea’s drinks are fully customizable, they offer traditional milk teas, fruit teas, and frappes. Select large or small tapioca pearls in your drink or leave the tapioca out altogether. Or choose flavored tapioca pearls (cherry-strawberry popping pearls, anyone?).

Playful drink lovers can choose a “cookies and cream” or “piña colada” flavored frappe or a delicious “strawberry milk tea.” Traditional tea lovers can select a green jasmine milk tea or a black oolong tea. Customers can even choose the sweetness level of their drink. Fun toppings such as cotton candy can be added to any beverage, making the entire drink a memorable experience. The shop also sells desserts, such as mochi and jellies.

And then there’s the look and feel of the shop that exudes positivity from every corner. Sit in the egg chair and snap an Instagram photo, work on your laptop, read a book, or chat with friends — but whatever you do, it will be done amongst a plethora of plants.

“People like the aesthetic,” Goings said. “There are plants everywhere and so many places to sit and be comfy.”

Empress Pearl Tea is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at 737 E Main St., Purcellville, Va.

Locust Hill Farm

Locust Hill Farm, owned by the late Magalen O. Bryant, now run by her grandson Michael Webert, is getting a facelift. A couple of years ago, Michael and his wife Rebecca decided to go direct to the consumer by selling online and offering pick up. But last year, at the start of COVID, they decided to try something new: They planted sweet corn. They added it to the farm stand with the ability to pay on the honor system.

Each day, they picked between 400 and 500 ears of corn and were amazed to sell out in 30 minutes. Between traffic from both locals and tourists, and feedback from the community, their success with the sweet corn made them think about expanding and opening a true farm store.

With the goal of opening in mid-August, they will continue offering beef cuts and sweet corn, along with adding a few other delicious things. They will sell eggs raised by their sons, aged 9 and 6. The money from the eggs will go back into the boys’ chicken business.

They will also be adding beef boxes with a selection of cuts, rather than limiting customers to a whole or half cow. If you don’t have the freezer space but still want to stock your fridge for a few weeks, a box will be a great in-between solution.

In addition to the beef, sweet corn, and eggs, they are planning to grow pumpkins for the fall. They are also talking to local artisans and makers about adding cheeses, fruit, baked goods, and fresh flowers to the store. They are sourcing products primarily from Loudoun and Fauquier counties.

Above all, their mission is to provide quality products and quality meats. They believe it’s important to keep their grass-fed, grain-finished beef affordable by pricing it competitively with grocery stores.

“Those of us in agriculture wake up every morning and face a lot of things that can make your day go pretty hard south,” Michael said. “At times, it can be a very challenging thing to do. We are putting food on people’s tables. Every once in a while you need a lawyer, but three times a day you need a farmer. It is rewarding when customers taste and enjoy what we’ve worked very, very hard to produce.”

Michael loves showing his customers around the farm. When people ask to see a photo of their steer, he shows them pictures and points out the growing corn that feeds the steers.

“It’s also amazing when someone comes to you and says they had the best steak they ever had, and it’s from your steers,” Michael said. “It’s wildly rewarding.”

“I’ve been in [agriculture] my whole life,” Rebecca said. “I am super passionate about farmers and ranchers. To be able to do this and connect people to my food and help them put food on their table in a way that they feel comfortable with is [a joy].” ML

The Locust Hill Farm Store is located at 2152 Zulla Rd, Middleburg, Va. Learn more at

This article first appeared in the August 2021 Issue.

Gardening: Making The Most Of Your Minutes

Story and Photos by Ashley Bommer Singh

There never seems to be enough time. My friends and I have been following Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients cookbook for dinner to try to pare down the chaos in our lives. Why try to do it all when you can simplify? Oliver focuses on five ingredients that come together beautifully and quickly to make things fun like super green spaghetti with just garlic, greens like cavolo nero or kale, parmesan and ricotta. Yum.

This got me thinking about the gardens. What could we do with just five items to beautify our spaces? Could we make our gardens look more natural in less time? The Chelsea Garden Show in the UK comes together in just weeks; but they have armies of people and volunteers and money for thousands of plants to make it happen. Could some gardening be made as simple as putting dinner together in 30 minutes or less? With this in mind, I took a walk around our property.

This flowering wild carrot even adds a touch of beauty.

The vegetable garden had found its own rhythm mostly because I let winter things go to seed during a busy spring. Carrots were in flower and the rocket lettuce is almost three feet tall covered in seed pods. The wildness is charming and quite beautiful against the red paprika yarrow. But in truth I’ve been dreading days of work to ensure a summer harvest. Using Jamie’s approach, I decided that we don’t need to plant the entire garden center or seed catalogue. What five vegetables do we really want in the summer garden and on our dinner plates? For me it was: tomatoes, zucchini, squash, runner beans and peppers.

After reading A Garden Can Be Anywhere, Lauri Kranz’s great resource for creating edible gardens, I appreciated the author’s desire to add pollinator friendly plants to all her vegetable gardens. My yarrow and carrots gone wild certainly fit that bill, as do the purple salvia nemorosa and statuesque foxtails. The author suggested adding African basil which she noted is the heart of all her vegetable gardens.

Paprika Yarrow.

Keeping it simple, I thought I should add just five flowers to the vegetable area: zinnias and cosmos and three edible flowers nasturtium, anise hyssop, and Orange Gem marigolds (the only marigolds you can eat!). My herbs mostly stick around year after year – oregano, thyme, chives, and mint. I add as much basil as I can plant. I like to make pesto.

Five plants for our new brick garden? A combination of asters, Karl Foerster grass, echinacea, agastache and white catmint. To spice up your entrance, you can’t go wrong with roses, boxwood, and dwarf hydrangeas with geranium and catmint to soften the edges. A shade garden? Try astilbe, Japanese painted ferns, hostas, hellebores and columbine.

Now, the pots. The spring annuals such as pansies and violas are done. It is time to fill with perennials or summer annuals. Can five ingredients apply to the pots as well? David and Diane at Abernethy & Spencer Greenhouses think so. They make pots in minutes drawing on about 20 plants. A good top five would be dusty miller, dipladenia, melampodium, sweet potato vine and wave petunias. Or do just three: dipladenia, diamond frost and English ivy. Tell them what colors you want and throw things together. Use good quality potting soil with peat moss, add some compost on top and water regularly to keep patios and balconies brilliant.

Allium ‘Ambassador’ around the fountain with Salvia nemorosa, Russian sage, Allium ‘Millenium’ and Caryopteris.

And don’t forget about fall bulbs. Summer is the best time to order for November delivery. My five favorites: alliums (my favorites are ambassador, nigrum, and drumstick), Sir Winston Churchill daffodils, parrot tulips, grape hyacinth for borders, and Camassia for under the apple trees. I have a lot of gardens, but thinking about five key ingredients makes each one more manageable.

Whether you have a dozen areas or a few pots on the patio, try to simplify and stick to what works. Pay attention to plant preferences. Shade plants should be in the shade. No azaleas in full sun, please, and likewise move the asters to the sun. Once you have things under control, you can layer on your gardens every year, but thinking about five ingredients is a pretty good – and manageable – way to get started.

This article first appeared in the June 2019 issue of Middleburg Life.

A New Chef in Town

The Front Porch introduces Executive Chef Jason Von Moll

As you walk in the door of The Front Porch Market and Grill in The Plains, Virginia, you’re greeted with a cheerful welcoming from the staff. It’s almost as if you’re coming home for a family meal—which is exactly what the owners had in mind when they opened in 2015. “I wanted to create a place where anyone is welcome,” President of Operations Dan Meyers says. “We have people who come in who own horse farms, and we have people who clean the stalls, and that is what I wanted. ”

Located right on Main Street, The Front Porch is housed inside a renovated, 100-plus-year-old railroad house. Offering an enticing menu of fresh and local fare, a vast selection of wine, craft beer and creative cocktails, the restaurant also has a market filled with special treasures from all over the country, handpicked by Meyers. You can find anything from glassware to gourmet coffee. Recently Executive Chef Jason Von Moll rejoined the team to head up the back of house. When the restaurant first opened, Von Moll worked as a sous chef for a year.

From a very young age, Richmond native Von Moll knew he wanted to be in the restaurant business. He spent summers helping out and learning the ropes of the business at his grandfather’s restaurants.
“Some of my most memorable moments were with my Papa cooking breakfast during the holidays for the family,” he says. Learning the family biscuit recipe was something that will always stick with him. “Till this day those are still the best and biggest biscuits I have ever had,” he says. He credits his work ethic and dedication to his grandfather. “He always told me to show up early and stay late.”

Recently, Meyers opened the Paladin Bar and Grill in Stephens City. “I told Jason I wouldn’t open the second restaurant if he didn’t come back,” Meyers said. Once the Paladin was up and running Meyers informed Von Moll that, “Surprise! You’re getting the Front Porch.” Having known each other for four years, the pair work well together collaborating to come up with artful dishes that not only look good but tempt the tastebuds.

Von Moll and his talents are in high demand as he and his staff of about 25 rotate between the two restaurants. “Floating them between the two places gives variety, and they like that,” says Meyers. “The staff really takes ownership of our place, and they really care about what they do.”

Von Moll describes his food as having a “southern flair with a more rustic approach.”
“Jason brings a real personal touch to his food. He puts a sophistication on the classics that gives you that comfort from home as well,” commented Kim McCusker, director of marketing. Keeping the food “approachable” and relatable was important to Meyers and Von Moll. “We try not to be too stuffy,” Von Moll said. “We like for people to actually know what it is they are eating.” Von Moll appreciates the availability of fresh goods from local farms. “I like the local ingredients I get to use and the selection of quality goods I have access to,” he says. He has local farmers stopping in almost every day to present their products, and he’s recently partnered with Ayrshire Farms, a certified organic farm in Upperville.

Community is important to both Meyers and Von Moll, and the Front Porch is really a place that brings people together in different ways and from all walks of life.

New dishes are frequently introduced, alongside the crowd favorites. One of the most popular meals is the Reuben sandwich, served on ciabatta bread, and the Caesar salad which is an entire wedge of Caesar. For an extra special treat try the mixed berry personal pies (who doesn’t want their own pie!) or the ever-popular chocolate cake. All desserts are crafted in house.

If you’re a local resident or just passing through, stop and pull up a chair, have a drink on the porch, and enjoy an exquisite meal crafted by Von Moll.


By Erin Bozdan | Photos by Joanne Maisano

This article first appeared in the October 2018 issue.