No matter which region you’re in, Virginia has an impressive culinary scene, with dozens of notable chefs creating inspired dishes from locally sourced ingredients that bring the best flavors of the Commonwealth together in uniquely delicious ways. To shine a spotlight on the best eats in Virginia, we talked with a few of these chefs, from the award-winning seasoned professionals to the rising stars that have garnered attention in national and even international publications. Follow our “Inside the Kitchen” series as we take a look at all there is to Eat.Drink.LOVE in Virginia!
As executive chef and food & beverage director for the Tides Inn, a waterfront resort distinctively located where the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail and Virginia Oyster Trail meet, Truman Jones helms the resort’s four multifaceted culinary operations, bringing over 20 years of industry expertise and a passion for supporting local and coastal purveyors. Jones’ style is described as regional, seasonal, and artisanal while echoing Virginia’s rich culinary culture. “My vision for the resort is to give the Tides Inn a sense of place by playing up the access the resort has to Virginia’s remarkable farming traditions and close proximity to the Chesapeake Bay—the nursery of the Atlantic Ocean,” he says.
Photo Credit: Kate Thompson
Joining the Tides Inn team in fall 2020, Jones elevates guests’ epicurean experiences by creating thoughtful dishes inspired by the resort’s unique location and timeless heritage. He oversees menu development, culinary programming and day-to-day operations for the resort’s coastal eatery, Fish Hawk Oyster Bar, which offers a selection of coastal classics, outdoor oyster roasts, and a raw bar featuring a rotation of locally sourced oysters; recently revitalized Chesapeake Restaurant and outdoor terrace, showcasing a new tableside cocktail service, a private overlook dining experience boasting stunning views of Carter’s Creek; and an all-new Chef’s Kitchen concept, presenting interactive programming and cooking classes. Focusing on maintaining a relationship with the local community, Jones works with chefs and wineries along the Virginia Wine Trail to not only elevate the culinary programming at the resort, but to put Irvington, Virginia on the map as a culinary destination with the Tides Inn as a thought leader.
Photo Credit: The Tides Inn
Before joining the team at Tides Inn, Jones held the title of executive chef at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa where he also used local ingredients including the Ojai pixie to elevate his signature regional, seasonal, and artisanal style. Prior to his time at Ojai Valley Inn, Jones held the role as executive chef at Lake Placid Lodge (NY) and Ventana Inn & Spa (CA), respectively. When he is not in the kitchen, Jones enjoys fitness and outdoor activities with his wife, playing both acoustic and electric guitars, and grilling with a glass of Virginia bourbon in hand—a family tradition.
Want to know more about The Tides Inn and Chef Jones? Read on to learn about some of his chef secrets followed by one of Chef Jones’ favorite recipes!
Do you have a few go-to producers, farms, or other purveyors you prefer to get your local ingredients from?
I am new to the area, but I am learning quickly that this is a place rich in local produce and products. Whether its Yellow House Farms eggs, Dug In Farms vegetables, Rappahannock Oysters, Mushroom Farm mushrooms, or many other great producers and growers, the Northern Neck and surrounding area represent the bounty and diversity that makes Virginia a special place.
What are your favorite Virginia flavors?
There are too many to choose a favorite. Virginia Country Ham biscuit, crab cake with a Virginia sparkling wine, local oysters with a local brew, Chesapeake rockfish, shrimp and grits, chess pie, the list goes on and on. My wife’s favorite thing in the world is ice cream, so I am going to say a waffle cone, which was created in Virginia, is on the top of our list.
What is your favorite thing to cook for yourself?
My favorite thing is anything that requires little to no clean up! Therefore, I love to grill and that’s what my wife and I usually prepare for dinner. We like to season and grill meat, or fish, with some vegetables and serve over salad greens and cooked grains. Here’s our seasoning mix we use:
- ¼ cup Hungarian paprika
- ¼ cup ground cumin
- ½ cup chili powder
- ½ cup garlic powder
- ¼ cup onion powder
- ¼ cup dried thyme
- ½ cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ cup light brown sugar (optional)
- ¼ cup ground black pepper
- Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container.
What Virginia wine, craft beer, cider, or cocktail would you pair with that?
I prefer to have a cocktail while I’m preparing dinner at home. It’s a family tradition to have a bourbon (or two!) while grilling. So, I would have a Horse’s Neck with Copper Fox rye. That’s Copper Fox Rye with a couple dashes of bitters and a spicy ginger beer. A strip of lemon peel, or just a slice of lemon makes a nice garnish.
Horse’s Neck Cocktail Recipe
- 2 oz Copper Fox Rye
- 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
- Ginger beer to top
- Lemon peel or lemon wedge to garnish
*Looking for another cocktail recipe? Try your hand at making the Lancaster Lemonade, a specialty for the Tides Inn.
What is your favorite vacation spot in Virginia?
I am so new to Virginia and excited to explore. Right now, I have to say my favorite is the Tides Inn; it’s waterfront setting, charming inn and storied past dating from 1947 make it an inviting retreat in the Northern Neck Region. In addition, I really enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains, as I visited them in Tennessee and North Carolina, so I am sure I will love them in Virginia, too.
Chef Recipe Spotlight: Baked Rappahannock Oysters “Chesapeake”
Photo Credit: Kate Thompson
- 4-6 Tbsp roasted garlic bechamel sauce (recipe below)
- 6 each Rappahannock oysters
- ¼ cup Chesapeake Bay lump crab meat
- 1 Tbsp cooked bacon, chopped
- 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
- 2 tsp chopped parsley
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Carefully shuck the oysters, and loosen the oyster from the shell, but leave it in the lower shell. Set aside.
- Mix the crab meat, chopped bacon, chopped parsley, and parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Once mixed, spoon a generous portion on top of each oyster in the shell. Place the oysters on a heat proof pan and bake in the oven at 400F until you see the sauce bubble and start to turn golden brown; approximately 5-8 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and enjoy!
Roasted Garlic Bechamel Sauce
“This recipe will make more than needed for the oysters- approximately ½ gallon of sauce.”
- 4 ounces butter
- 1 cup flour
- 1 pint vegetable stock
- 1.5 pints cream
- 1 cup roasted garlic puree, approximately
- 15-20 cloves
- ½ Tbsp salt
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- ½ tsp nutmeg, grated
- Melt the butter in a heavy pot over medium heat until foamy.
- Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Cook the roux for about 2-3 minutes, then add the stock and cream. Whisk to dissolve the roux into the liquid.
- Turn up the heat and bring the sauce to a simmer. Add the garlic puree and seasonings and whisk to combine. Simmer this mixture for about 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and when cool, store in an airtight cooler until needed.
Looking for more incredibly tasty recipes from Virginia’s top chefs? Stay tuned for more Inside the Kitchen articles and check out these other articles in the chef series: