The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Duner’s

Introducing Dumplin’: Chef Laura Fonner Has Left Duner’s to Launch a Food Truck and Catering Business

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It’s been quite a stretch for chef Laura Fonner. Last year, she won $20K in on the Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games. Next, in May, she won Best Chef in The Daily Progress’s Readers’ Choice awards. Then, just yesterday came news that she had been invited back to appear on a tournament of champions on Guy’s Grocery Games. And now, the longtime Duner’s chef has left the restaurant she helped build for a new chapter in her cooking career. Opening soon will be Dumplin’, a food truck launched by Fonner together with Champion Hospitality Group.

The truck’s specialty, of course, will be the same famous dumplings that helped her take the top prize on Guy’s Grocery Games and which one top Charlottesville chef once named the best thing he ate all year. But, she also plans riffs on other favorite dishes from over the years.

A huge supporter of the Charlottesville community, Fonner has been a long-time contributor to the nonprofit PACEM, which provides winter shelter to the Charlottesville-area homeless population, as well as founding a program that brings together chefs, farmers, and restaurants to help feed the homeless. Now, freed from the white-table-cloth restaurant where she cooked for more than a decade, Fonner looks forward to taking her food to a wider audience. “This idea is something I have spent years crafting and it makes my soul happy,” said Fonner. “A food truck allows me to bring my dumplings to the community in a way that is affordable and accessible, so everyone can come share my love of food.”

In addition to running the food truck, Fonner will be available for catering and private dinners. Stay tuned for details on how to book her.

Five Finds on Friday: Natasha Lawler

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Natasha Lawler, co-founder of Feed The Frontline, a fund that is buying restaurant gift cards for brave workers on the frontline. At a time when our restaurants are in peril, it’s a win-win that has already injected $40,000 of needed cash flow into the restaurant industry. Help save our restaurants while thanking the frontline. Donate here. Lawler’s picks:

1) Deep-Fried Flounder at Duner’s. “Not only is this the most epic whole fish presentation, but it is so tender and delicious. They layer in all kinds of fresh herbs and aromatics. And I love to order things that I wouldn’t make at home: hello massive deep fryer and a vat of hot oil.”

2) Shrimp Tacos at Plaza Azteca. “These tacos have a yummy secret sauce. And I love how nice the staff is to my kids. Don’t miss the tableside guacamole, whenever it is that we starting dining in again.”

3) Almond Croissant at MarieBette. “My sweet husband gets me one every Saturday morning, and they mark the weekend. The contrast of the gooiness of the almond paste with the crispness of the croissant. Jason and Patrick have the best pastries this side of the Atlantic.”

4) Kimchi Pancake at Doma. “So much umami. So much acid. So much heat. These satisfy a deep primal need in my soul.”

5) Sugar Cookie Mixed Box from BreadWorks. “Made by local members of our community with disabilities, these cookies are so good. Love the variety and how the middles are soft and chewy. Someone gave me a box when I had a baby, and they kept me going. My kids also adore them.”

Five Finds on Friday: Elaina Mangione

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Elaina Mangione, co-owner of Mangione’s on Main, which just celebrated its first anniversary. Beginning today, Mangione’s is offering a special $39 three course menu for C-VILLE Restaurant Week, benefiting the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Chef Mick Markley’s restaurant week menu includes dishes like Duck Confit on Pappardelle Pasta and Smoked Salmon on Bucatini Pasta. Mangione’s picks:

1) Happy Hour Oysters and Clam Chowder at Public Fish & Oyster. “Bert and I love going here for happy hour and having one each from ‘The List’ and a glass of ‘Oyster Wine.’ I love oysters on the half shell, and they serve up such an amazing variety each week. And, the clam chowder is so delicious and comforting on a cold day. If we are lucky, we get to sit at the end of the bar and chat up the shucker and John all night.”

2) Maiale alla Milanese at Tavola. “Yes! I do go to other Italian restaurants. Tavola was one of the first restaurants I visited when I started coming to Charlottesville before moving here. I love everything about this restaurant – the European feel, the smell of mussels smoking up the joint, and of course the Cicchetti Bar. My go-to there is the Alpha & Omega, which Steve or Rebecca start making as soon as they see me walk through the door.”

3) Pot de Crème at Oakhart Social. “This is hands down my absolute favorite dessert in Charlottesville. The textures of this dish meet all of my requirements for a great dessert.  When I am having a case of the mean reds, the only thing that can fix me is their Pot de Crème. And if they ever remove it from the menu they may as well be Sicilian dead to me.”

4) Prime Rib at Aberdeen Barn. “Who doesn’t love a hometown, old world steakhouse that serves up a delicious prime rib? It is always spot on. We eat at the bar, hang out with our friends, chat up everyone there, and drink good wine. This is definitely our go-to hang out when we just want to go for comfort food and great people.”

5) Dumplings at Duner’s. “Chef Laura Fonner is our current local celeb, and she deserves all the accolades. Not only is she an awesome chef, she also gives back so much to the community. I have had her dumplings every time we have been there, and watching her make them in less than 30 minutes on the game show has put me more in awe of her abilities. The flavors are so bold yet somehow incredibly delicate and composed. Now, if she would only make them as a meal . . you know . . . like 20 dumplings per serving.”

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