The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

Area Restaurants Create 315K+ Meals for Hungry


Even if you’re not a money manager, you may have heard of ROI, a business term creeping into everyday conversation. Short for “return on investment,” it’s a simple metric to evaluate the efficacy of an investment – comparing the value of what you put in to the value of what you get out.

Over the past two months, in McGuireWoods’ The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions, area restaurants have offered thirty-one separate once-in-a-lifetime experiences to entice donations to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Those 31 restaurant experiences yielded more than 315,000 meals for the hungry. How’s that for ROI?

The Auctions’ Heroes

Of course, many others have contributed to the cause as well. McGuireWoods LLP underwrote the entire thing, with a donation to cover residual expenses. The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank provided indispensable help. Elite University of Virginia coaches joined auction experiences as special guests. And, vendor, after vendor, after vendor came forward with generous donations of time, products, and services. One vendor donated coaster and poster design services and even threw in cash to pay for production.

Then there are the bidders. In some cases, an auction was won by a single individual with the resources and passion to make an enormous difference. In other cases, groups of friends pooled their funds to win restaurant auction experiences. In all, more than sixty bidders were among the winning donors.

It’s not just winners that helped, though. The unsung heroes of the auction were the runners-up, whose generosity and interest was essential to drive up winning bids, thereby creating more meals for the hungry.

The Right Thing at the Right Time: Moments of Kindness

At times I have wondered whether The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions did not belong in a year as unsettling as 2016. But when I thought about it more, I realized the auctions could not have been timed better. To combat the year’s repeated attacks on our confidence in human decency, the auctions have countered with reminders that, at their core, people are fundamentally good. There were too many heart-warming moments of kindness to document them all, so here are just a few.

After UVa’s second leading tackler in history won a fiercely competitive auction to have dinner at with UVa Football Coach Bronco Mendenhall, the runner-up insisted on making a generous donation anyway. When one food business owner learned she had outbid another food business owner to win a restaurant’s auction, she invited him to join her for the experience she won. A group of husbands won an auction for their wives as a ladies night out. A chef postponed a career move so that a bidder could surprise his wife with a birthday dinner. The two largest donors in all of the auctions – $8,150 for The Ivy Inn and $6,500 for Fleurie – asked not to be identified, choosing generosity over notoriety. A restaurant owner sparked a bidding war for his auction after vowing to volunteer one hour of service at the food bank for every 100 meals it yielded. And, even after the auctions ended, a restaurant not in the auctions created a dinner to reward a multi-time runner-up, creating even more meals for the hungry.

A Special Food Community

Earlier this year, I asked the restaurants of The Charlottesville 29 if they would be willing to create a VIP experience to auction off to the highest bidder, in support of the food bank. They all said yes. A few months later, we have more than 315,000 meals for the hungry.

How is that possible? It is possible when you have a food community as special and compassionate as Charlottesville’s. Entering the auctions, my goal for total donations was $29,000. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the restaurants, the total amount raised, including supplements to the winning donations, is $79,730. This is because each restaurant created an amazing experience that would never be available to a typical customer, and donated the entire thing, allowing every dollar bid to go directly to the food bank. I first arrived in Charlottesville nearly twenty five years ago, and I’ve never seen a greater outpouring of generosity by our food community.

If you’re like me, you may be wondering how you can show your appreciation for the food community’s generosity. The greatest tribute would be to enhance the fruits of their labor, and create even more meals for the area’s hungry. In short, you can thank the restaurants for their efforts by improving their already amazing ROI. Below is how to make a donation to the food bank in gratitude for our food community’s amazing work.

Thank you in advance for your support. Let’s help the restaurants feed even more of the area’s hungry.

  • Online (3% fee): On the Donate page. To show your appreciation for the food community’s efforts, you may “dedicate” your donation to “The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions.”
  • By Phone: (540) 213-8406. To show your appreciation for the food community’s efforts, you may state that your donation relates to The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions.
  • By Check: Payable to “Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.” BRAFB, PO Box 937, Verona, VA 24482. Again, please note on your check that it relates to The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions.

Yoder Succeeds Redshaw at Timbercreek Market


Talk about landing on your feet. Lose one of the area’s top young chefs, and turn around and snag another star.

Since opening last year, Timbercreek Market’s kitchen has been run by chef Allie Redshaw, the former Pippin Hill sous chef whose inspired sandwiches, brunches, dinners, and take-home meals have been among the culinary highlights of Charlottesville’s last twelve months. So, it was sad to learn this weekend that she had decided to move on. In the short term, Redshaw says, the change will allow more time with her infant daughter Sawyer, but she admits there are aspects of the market she will miss. “I loved the aspect of whole animal butchery,” Redshaw says, “and having the opportunity to use every part of the animal.”

Losing a talent like Redshaw was not easy for Timbercreek Market. “It is always hard to lose a valued team member,” says co-owner Sara Miller, “especially one as creative as Allie Redshaw.” The market had recently begun a dinner series which particularly showcased Redshaw’s talent. A dashi noodle bowl she served at one dinner is on a short list of my favorite dishes of the year.

But, as sad as Miller was to lose her chef, she is thrilled by Redshaw’s successor: former Clifton Inn chef Tucker Yoder.  “I am like a kid at Christmas,” says Miller, who says she needed Yoder to repeat his acceptance several times for her to believe it.

Before leaving Clifton Inn in 2014, Yoder presided over one of Charlottesville’s most prestigious kitchens for more than four years. In 2013, he was named one of Charlottesville’s four Rising Star chefs. “What I love about Tucker’s presentation and approach to cooking,” says Miller, “is it’s just about the food.”

So how did a former Executive Chef of a Relais & Chateaux restaurant wind up at a market and butcher? In the eighteen months since leaving, several opportunities have come Yoder’s way, but none captured his interest like Timbercreek, where he will have the rare chance to partner directly with a farmer and producer. “I am really excited to be working hand and hand with an excellent local producer to create memorable food experiences,” says Yoder. Also appealing to Yoder is the youth of Timbercreek’s dinner program, which means he can help to build and shape it.

In addition to leading the kitchen, Yoder will provide guidance to Timbercreek Farm’s gardener.  At Clifton, Yoder oversaw the inn’s garden, and Yoder again looks forward to choosing what produce to grow for his cuisine and when.

Redshaw’s last day at the market will be August 26th. Yoder begins September 6. His first dinner service is September 8, and the market is already taking reservations. Reservation info here.

Five Finds on Friday: Kelsey Naylor


Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Kelsey Naylor, sous chef of Timbercreek Market, which this week launched full-service dinner three nights a week. Naylor’s picks:

1) Radish Kimchi from Sussex Farm. “By far the best and most authentic kimchi in Virginia. You can find them at the city market every Saturday and they introduce a new type of kimchi every week.”

2) Blueberry Donuts from Spudnuts. “There is nothing better than one of their blueberry cake donuts with a cup of coffee in the morning.”

3) Oh Toro at TEN. “Fatty Tuna is one of my favorite things in the world and Ten definitely does it right.”

4) Crispy Beef at Taste of China. “Crispy Beef and Scallion Bubble Pancakes are by far my favorite, but I’ve never had anything there that I didn’t love.”

5)  Hellboy Pizza at Lampo. “The perfect pizza to go along with a Narragansett Tall Boy. It really doesn’t get any better than that.”

Dinner Debuts at Timbercreek Market


Full service dinner debuts this week at Timbercreek Market, and looks more than a little promising. Executive Chef Allie Redshaw‘s presence in the kitchen was enough to capture my interest. The former sous chef of Pippin Hill is one of Charlottesville’s rising stars. And, a sneak peek of the opening week’s menu, below, did nothing to temper my enthusiasm. It looks like one of the more enticing in town, but also offering crowd-pleasing a la carte options for the meat-and-potatoes crowd. I will sample and report back soon. Dinner is Thursday through Saturday, 6 pm – 9 pm. You can book at or on OpenTable.

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