If you want to understand Charlottesville’s food community, you need to know its heart. In all of my years writing about our food community, no virtue stands out more. Yes, it is a talented bunch. Passionate, too. But, above all, when one has a need, others rush to fill it.
While I have seen this happen time and again, there may be no better example than the food community’s response to chef Allie Redshaw’s recent accident. The former sous chef of Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards and head chef of Timbercreek Market is one of Charlottesville’s brightest young stars. She is the devoted wife of chef Ian Redshaw and smitten mother of a beautiful baby girl, Sawyer. Early morning March 1, while working at Lampo, her life changed in an instant when her hand became stuck in a meat grinder. Her hand could not be saved.
Immediately, the food community leaped to her aid. A Go Fund Me Page, started the very next day, has raised nearly $150,000; a list of volunteers to make daily meal deliveries to the Redshaws filled as soon as it was announced; and, one after another members of the community asked what they could to do help. While no set of words or images can capture the compassion the food community has shown, the recent Rally for Allie did offer a glimpse.
It all started with host Pippin Hill, and owners Lynn Easton Andrews and Dean Andrews. Not only did the Andrews donate their facility, but they and their staff planned it all, too. Sure, it doesn’t hurt that Pippin Hill is so experienced and skilled in special events, being one of the nation’s best wedding venues. But, events like this take a lot of work. And, for the past several weeks, on top of all of their regular responsibilities, Pippin Hill staff organized and executed a massive event, all to benefit Allie and her family.
Next were the event’s contributors, which reads like a who’s-who of the Charlottesville food community. Chefs included Pippin Hill’s own Bill Scatena, Craig Hartman of The BBQ Exchange, Dean Maupin of C&O, Lee Hendrickson of Red Pump Kitchen, Caleb Warr of Tavola, Greenwood Gourmet’s Polina Chesnakova, Gerry Newman of Albemarle Baking Company, Gail Hobbs-Page of Caromont Farm, and Anita Gupta of Maliha Creations – while Dave Fafara of Shenandoah Joe provided coffee. Each one conceived and prepared special tastes just for the evening, which they personally served from stations throughout the ball room, allowing guests to graze from one stellar dish to the next.
With Allie as their inspiration, every chef knocked it out of the park. Every one. Hartman is an example. “I wanted to do a dish that has the word angels in it, because I felt that it would be appropriate for the Redshaws,” Hartman said. “That made me think of the dish Angels on Horseback.” Hartman’s riff included a fried oyster atop a cube of pork belly, all bathing in a pool of Outer Banks style striped bass chowder.
Next were the many donors of auction items for the event. To recruit donors for charitable auctions can often require active solicitations. Not this one. We simply posted a link to a donation form, and watched the donations flood in. Despite doing almost no solicitation, we received more than sixty donations of special experiences, services, and other items from generous donors.
Also not to be overlooked are the guests – 200 in all — who gladly paid $50 per ticket to join the food community in supporting Allie. Long after tickets sold out, I received repeated inquiries from people asking if there were any way to attend the sold-out event. When I told them unfortunately no, invariably they’d respond: “That’s okay, I’ll donate anyway,”
Finally, there are the Redshaws themselves. Not everyone has the character to accept help with grace. For people to whom generosity feels foreign, receiving it can leave them uncomfortable in their own skin. But, Allie and Ian are two of the kindest souls you could ever meet. Generous in their own spirit, accepting the help of others with dignity and gratitude has come naturally.
In the end, the event raised $35K for Allie’s recovery fund, to help with expenses of treatment, rehabilitation, and a prosthetic. Thank you to everyone involved for making the Rally for Allie such a wonderful celebration of the compassion of the Charlottesville food community. If you would like to donate or help the Redshaws, you may email charlottesville29@gmail. com
Below are images of the evening, courtesy of Tom McGovern.