Endless Possibilities: Allie Redshaw Returns to Professional Cooking

by Charlottesville29

Of all the surprises sprung by the Culture of Takeout, this one is hard to top. Allie Redshaw has resumed professional cooking.

On March 1, 2017, Redshaw’s life changed in an instant when she lost her right hand to a meat grinder accident. Devastated, even the outpouring of support from the food community could not undue the pain of realizing that her passion — cooking — would never be the same. “I am a perfectionist,” says Redshaw.  “I hold myself to high standards, and to think that I might never meet those again was a serious blow to my ego.”

And so, Redshaw channeled her energy elsewhere, like wine and yoga, attacking both with the zeal which she brought to the kitchen. After earning an Introductory Sommelier Certification, Redshaw became sommelier of Prime 109. “Gracefully opening a wine bottle one-handed is still a work in progress,” said Redshaw. As for yoga, something Redshaw initially pursued to prove something to herself soon became a way of life. Now a certified yoga teacher, Redshaw says that the practice has completely changed her. “Yoga is a spiritual journey that I am still on,” said Redshaw. “I will be forever learning and seeking more because it is such a beautiful gift to the mind, heart, body, and soul.”

As fulfilling as these pursuits have been, though, Redshaw’s passion for cooking still burns. And so, when a yoga friend recently asked to hire Redshaw to prepare a week of healthy meals, she leapt. Preparing the meals, Redshaw found, brought back the “immense joy” of cooking for others. “The end result of a week’s worth of food was nothing extravagant or soigné,” said Redshaw. “Still it was enough to ignite the spark.”

Dinner by the Redshaws

Spark you say? Happy to oblige.

For Redshaw’s second gig since her return, this week she prepared a family meal for us and a group of neighbors. Redshaw sent menu options in advance, families made their selections, and tonight, a gourmet family dinner arrived at our door.

Of course, a lot of work went in beforehand. For that, she turned to the help of her husband, who also knows his way around a kitchen. “It never would have been feasible without my sweet soulmate Ian who literally helped me cut and prep all the things and face any challenge that arose,” said Redshaw. Together, the Redshaws foraged, washed, peeled,  cleaned, trimmed, zested, chopped, diced, sliced, tossed, mixed, stirred, blended, whipped, pickled, marinated, seasoned, rendered, sweated, wilted, simmered, sauteed, braised, baked, roasted, charred, and smoked our dinner.

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Family Feast

From all of that work, what a result.

A highlight among the starters was kale slaw – listed on the menu as “OG”, a nod to our own fondness for the dish and the cult-like following Redshaw earned for it while chef at Timbercreek Market. Another was braised artichokes with aioli and fenugreek seed gremolata. Entree options included tea smoked whole chicken, with foraged nettles, bear garlic, and roasted ginger. Or, our choice, braised octopus. Sides included charred carrots with seeds, and charred turnips with turmeric and sesame. Dessert (wow) was honey nut tart with cardamom gelato from Splendora’s.

What a meal.

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Endless Possibilities

Looking back, Redshaw realizes that it was fear that drove her from cooking. “I knew I would never be the same in a kitchen and that scared me, so I ran,” said Redshaw. Freed of that fear, Redshaw has relished her time back in the kitchen. How long she will continue cooking professionally — days, weeks, months, or years — remains up in the air. For now, she has learned to enjoy the moment, without worry for what the future might hold. “The world is a place ever-changing and re-birthing, and so are we,” said Redshaw. “I am simply joyful to be in this moment, in this body exactly as she is, open and excited for what life has yet to bring.”

So what’s next? “I may never step foot into a professional kitchen as a chef again, but the beauty of the hospitality industry is found in her many facets,” said Redshaw. “There are so many  opportunities to share one’s love and knowledge of food — catering, consulting, cooking classes, sharing meals and wine, etc. The possibilities are truly endless.”


 

Wait, How Do I Get My Dinner by the Redshaws? 

Email Allie with inquiries.

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