The Charlottesville 29

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Local Heroes: The Catering Outfit Team’s COVID-19 Response Goes Above and Beyond

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In some of us, crises bring out the best. Like The Catering Outfit team.

When the pandemic hit, Walter Slawski and crew sprung into action and have been a blur of activity ever since. With stellar results. They built a drive-thru restaurant in their parking lot, open seven days a week — offering sandwiches, sides, and packages for stocking the fridge. They started a take-home family meal service, with chef-prepped meals and cooking instructions to finish at home. They created The Atrium Market, a curbside pick-up source for hand sanitizer that they made themselves, along with masks, beer, wine, and other essentials. They launched pop-up food stands at places like Castle Hill Cider. They catered “elopement meals” for make-shift socially distanced weddings. And, they operated a takeout program with sister restaurant The Shebeen.

As if trying to keep two food businesses alive during a pandemic was not enough, all the while they looked for ways to help others. They created a food bank that provides free bags of groceries and pantry items to restaurant workers in need, two days a week. They offer 50% discounts to all health care workers and first responders. In “Buy a Mask – Give a Mask” – they send masks to overseas military and government workers. And, on Make a Difference Mondays, they donate 10% of proceeds to a new charity each week.

Plus, their food is delicious, like today’s special for Memorial Day: a Western Philly Cheesesteak, with shaved New York Strip, tobacco onions, sautéed mushrooms, poblano peppers, queso, and Texas mop sauce. A portion of proceeds will go towards buying masks for military families overseas.

Menus here for TCO2GO and The Shebeen.

Roll call below on the hard-working The Catering Outfit team.

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In Walter Slawski’s words:

Bekah Cannon is our Head Catering Chef and has been an amazing help getting the TCOC2GO drive thru program launched. She has switched gears from off-site catering to help build our menu filled with our house smoked meats and daily specials each week. She also has helped to produce our Foodbar kitchen boxes and elopement packages. Bekah also ‘cooked up’ our new hand sanitizer for The Atrium Market. She is the backbone of our kitchen and her positive attitude has been a bright spot during the last three months.

Courtney Hildebrand is our Director of Catering and Sales for The Catering Outfit. Courtney is our main contact with our catering clients and has helped guide our clients through rescheduling their events or navigating holding smaller events during this time. In typical fashion, Courtney always tries to keep us busy and is constantly creating new concepts and ventures for The Catering Outfit. She helped launch the foodbar|kitchen meal kits and elopement packages, and helped to form our partnership with Frontline Foods to feed healthcare workers and first responders. She is currently working on partnering the TCO2GO program for delivery to neighborhoods in the Charlottesville and Albemarle areas. She has been essential in finding a path forward with changes needed to operate during the pandemic.

Sam Clarke, who joined us last year as an event coordinator, has been instrumental in setting up our new online shop, The Atrium Market. She has seamlessly switched gears from leading events off-site to being our resident graphic designer and website builder. She has helped spearhead the TCO2GO program and organize and train our staff for the new drive thru set up. You will even find her smiling face behind the drive thru some days, filing in, as we are open seven days a week to help serve great food to the Charlottesville community. Sam, who comes from a military family, also started our ‘buy a mask, give a mask’ program to help bring masks to active military and government civilians overseas who are in need of these essential items.

Megan Slawski is the general manager of The Shebeen. She has been instrumental in keeping our restaurant doors open and streamlining our curbside to go efforts. Through these efforts, we have been able to keep our core restaurant staff employed during this crisis. Megan is the hardest working woman I know — an incredible wife, mother to our two girls, and business partner.

We also couldn’t continue without the help of our staff, many of whom have volunteered their time during the last couple of months to get our new programs launched- thank you Dean, Cameron, Carolyn, Andrew, James, Gonzalo, Brenda, Andrew (yes we have two), Allison, Henry, Rosa, Connor and Kelsi.

Our new operations also would not have happened without the support of Steve and Jason with MS Events, Mike Morris, Jason Haddock of Sysco, Ian Atkins, videographer and friend of the outfit, Bill Norton of Rockpile Construction who continues to generously support the pantry, our friends at VA Eagle, making our drive thru signs, and Pepsi-Cola, who donated fridges for our take home and heat section. Most importantly the Charlottesville community for embracing our new ventures!”

Endless Possibilities: Allie Redshaw Returns to Professional Cooking

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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Five Finds on Friday: Courtenay Tyler

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Courtenay Tyler, co-founder of Tilman’s, which has lots of news this week. First, building on the success of the shop’s pop-ups, Tilman’s is launching a takeout menu. Today through Monday, from 12-6pm, guests will have the option of taking their order to-go or enjoying it “picnic style” on the patio. In addition to food and wine, there will be cocktails like Negronis, martinis, and sangria. Pre-ordering is preferred, but walk-ins are also welcome. Next, COVID-19 be damned, Tilman’s is planning a sister restaurant for later this year. In the former home to Tin Whistle Pub, Tonic will be a cafe and bar, with a patio and outdoor bar, offering small plates of vegetables, seafood, and fresh sandwiches, including house roast beef. Stay tuned for details and an opening date, likely this summer. Tyler’s picks, which focus on takeout and delivery options in the Culture of Takeout:

1) Tuna Avocado Carpaccio at Now & Zen. “This is probably the one dish in Charlottesville that I crave the most. It’s packed with big chunks of fresh tuna, avocado, and my favorite, tobiko. The wasabi dressing is always light, and the salad is perfectly dressed. My husband and I will wait in line for all of Chef Toshi’s small plates, but this is always the first thing that we order.”

2) Deonjang Jjigae at Maru. “Steven and Kay Kim are my next door neighbors at Tilman’s, and boy, did I luck out in that respect. They are incredibly nice. Kay has a sharp wit, and best of all Steven is an amazing chef. I love this Korean miso stew (don’t ask me how to pronounce it). It’s a big umami bomb, which I love. It has tofu and veggies and is a little spicy, and I always get it with clams. It comes with their homemade banchan, which has kim chi and other interesting things I can’t identify until I ask. I’m really happy if there’s pickled burdock that day.”

3) Any Soup at Bizou. “I have no idea how every single soup I have had from Bizou is amazing, but it is. Their shrimp bisque is actually the very first meal I ate here in Charlottesville, when I moved here in 2014. A mention on their specials board will definitely make me stop in. They have the butternut squash bisque on their to-go menu this week, and they are on my list for take-out. When things were ‘normal,’ they provided a much needed respite after a long day at Tilman’s. I enjoy sitting at that bar, and chatting with Rachel about her wine list. She has a great palate and point of view. And, she writes the best wine descriptions in town.”

4) Triple Citrus Pie at The Pie Chest. “Rachel’s pies aren’t super fancy. They are simple, and homey, and made with love, and in that, reflect Rachel’s personality. Her triple citrus is sublime. That texture! It’s such a treat.”

5) Chocolate Gelato at Splendora’s. “PK’s chocolate gelato is like no other. Deep, dark, intense. It may sound plain, but I promise you, it is not. It’s dangerous that PK is now delivering. All I have to do is call or text, and next thing you know I have my fix.”

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