Thanksgiving is my favorite Holiday of the year.
When I was a child Thanksgiving Break meant that we got to go to my Grandaddy’s farm in Prince George Va, on the banks of the James River. It was a very special time because my brother and I got to see all of our cousins, aunts and uncles. All the cousins would stay in the same room, all of us sleeping in the same beds every year. Every night before we all went to bed, one of us would say “who ever wakes up first needs to wake up the rest of us”. It was very important to be one of the first 2 cousins up because it meant that we got to sit next to Grandaddy at Breakfast. Most of the time I was the first up, being jared awake by the huge Grandfather Clock that sat at the bottom of the stairs.
We would race from The North Pole, the name of the house that we all staying in because it was always so cold, to our Grandaddy’s house. He always sat at the head of the table facing the James. The cousins would surround him as he regaled us with stories. We would talk about everything, especially his thoughts on how breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast would start with either a half grapefruit or orange and would always be followed by Scrambled Eggs, Smoked Surry Sausages and Bacon. Incidentally this was the same breakfast that my Grandaddy ate all year. There are many aspects of these meals that I can now see permeating their way though the food that I create today.
After breakfast we would all pile into the biggest Lincoln made and head to Parker’s Grocery, a small country store at the end of Grandaddy’s drive way. Along the drive we would pass men, women and dogs blazoned with their blaze orange ready to go deer hunting. When we got to Parker’s we were all allowed to get 3 items only. So every day it became a game to figure out how to get the most out of the 3 items. It usually meant getting Hostess Cakes that came 2 to a pack. When we got back to the farm we would all go back to our room and take a tally of what everyone got that day.
I used to think about these memories every year at this time and think about how they have had the most influence on the way that I cook and, more importantly, how I cook for people and the joy and love that I get from both. Now I get to think about these memories surrounded by my beautiful wife and 2 amazing daughters and I find myself both reflecting on the past and getting excited about the future and creating amazing memories for my own family. This is what Thanksgiving is all about: Family, Friends and Community and the joy one takes from loving and being loved by them and the memories that that love creates.
What I am Thankful for this year:
My amazingly loving, talented and hard working wife who is always by my side making me the best version of me that I can be.
My beautiful girls who are a constant inspiration to me to work as hard as I can.
My Family who has always told me to follow my dreams.
Our Customers (or rather our extended family) for trusting us to take of you.
Our amazing Farmers/Bakers/Local Store Owners who work 24/7/365 to create the best product they can that we are privileged to work with.
The great Community of Local Chefs who inspire me and work so hard to make this one of the best places in the world to eat.
Charlottesville, the place where I get to raise my family and serve our customers.
Being a Virginian, because it is what has made me what I am today.