Among the unsung heroes of The Charlottesville Restaurant Auctions were the auction runners-up, whose participation was vital to the auctions’ success. For each restaurant’s auction, after public bidding closed I would email all of the bidders to invite further bidding until only one remained. Some dropped out quickly. But, in almost all cases, at least two bidders battled back-and-forth with repeated bids. Runners-up drove up bids thousands of dollars for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, creating tens of thousands of meals for the hungry that would not have existed without their support.
Dr. Lisa Hardy was a runner-up an amazing six times. Often, she was the only significant competitor for the winner, meaning that, if she had not participated, winning bids would have been much lower, and the benefit to the hungry diminished. Even though bids kept sailing just north of her grasp, her own bidding created literally thousands of meals for the hungry. Given her obvious love of good food and support of the food bank, I did not want her to go away empty handed.
So, after the auctions ended, I contacted Michael McCarthy, chef-owner of the outstanding Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. Since Dr. Ho’s does not have a Charlottesville address, it is not technically one of The Charlottesville 29, but instead is a “Worth the Drive” restaurant – a designation for restaurants outside Charlottesville worthy of the 29. I explained the situation to McCarthy and asked if he might consider creating a special meal for Hardy, if she were to donate to the food bank.
He responded almost immediately: “Sounds like a plan.” He proposed an “esoteric Baltimore style Bull & Oyster Roast for 10 people.” (Evidently great feast ideas are just lying around in chefs’ imaginations.) It would include “roast pit beef, oysters served a dozen different ways, steamed shrimp, oyster stew, Chesapeake inspired nosh and nibbles, beer, and wine.”
When I pitched it to Hardy, she was elated. “Wow, that sounds great!” she said, and pledged a $1,500 donation to the food bank on the spot. In addition to the meals her runner-up efforts helped to create, her donation will provide another 6,000 meals to the area’s hungry. Thank you to Hardy and Dr. Ho’s for their tremendous generosity, another reminder of how special our food community is.