marshall

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. 

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Creative Juices Flowing in Marshall Shop

by Sophie Schepps

Dustin Aliff finds himself completely consumed with creativity on a daily basis. After spending his working daytime hours repairing antique oriental rugs with his father David at David’s Oriental Rugs in Marshall, he shifts to music, poetry, and painting in the evenings.

As a high school student at Liberty High School in the mid-1990s, Aliff suffered from seizures, fainting spells and terrible migraines. After several hospital visits, he found relief from the same doctor who performed surgery on the late Christopher Reeve.

“I had brain surgery in 1996,” he said. “My brain stem was being squeezed in my spinal cord. They were able to make some cuts so now there is enough room for proper blood flow. Ever since then, I’m a different person. Ideas and images just flow into me. I can’t keep it inside of me. I have to put it on paper.”

Aliff has been accumulating his poetry in hopes of publishing a book within the next year entitled “X-ray Your Zip Code.” He’s developed a new style, which he calls A-to-Z poetry.

“Each poem has a subject or emotion like family, business or sadness,” he said. “And starting at A, each word is the subsequent letter so it tells a story.”

He also writes in more traditional styles. Writing, he said, is often a coping mechanism for overwhelming emotions, whether they’re happy or sad.

 “His poetry is fabulous, very deep. It’s solid,” said Bailey Davis of Middleburg, who often frequents the Marshall shop.

Working with oriental rugs means that Aliff is surrounded by art and creativity all day. After three trips to Istanbul, he became a master weaver after many hours of instruction.

“I first went when I was 22,” he said. “We had a Turkish man come into the shop and he brought me over to Istanbul. I was there for 30 days to watch and learn. I took a lot of reference pictures. Then I went back three years later and again last year. So in three trips I have learned pretty much everything I can. I sat there for 12-hour days, learned as much Turkish as I could and really put the effort into it.”

Some of the rugs Dustin and his father repair are hundreds of years old and come from all over the country. They’ve been chewed or soiled by pets, stained by dropped glasses of wine and so much more. The painstaking work they perform makes the carpets look new again. Their true appreciation for the work involved in the creation of the rugs is apparent.

“I love the nomadic rugs,” Dustin said. “The materials aren’t easy for them to get as they travel. They will use horsehair or their own hair to make sure they have enough when they run out of wool. There is more of a connection from the weaver when it’s not mass produced.”

Aliff also weaves his own rugs, sometimes experimenting with unusual products like copper. His ancestry includes Native American and he has improved his connection to the culture by creating tribal pieces.

Aliff’s schedule allows little time for a social life, but his passion for inspiring others is too strong to allow for distractions. He hopes that sharing his art and poetry will encourage others to lead more fulfilling, creative lives.

“I say I am a weaver, a writer, a poet and a painter,” he said. “There is so much and my brain just gets filled. I have to find a way to release it in my poetry and my writing. I still want more. Once you create and you’re actually pleased with it, that’s where true happiness comes from.” 

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