The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Laura Fonner

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


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.

Duner’s Laura Fonner to Appear on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games


Duner’s Laura Fonner is going to be on TV. On December 11 at 9 pm, the chef will appear on the Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, Guy Fieri’s program where chefs face one another in grocery store cooking competitions. In the episode to feature Fonner, Charlottesville’s own chef philanthropist will square off against three other “charitable chefs” in a Holiday Cook-off, with the winner to take home up to $20,000.

Plans for a viewing party are in the works. Stay tuned for details on how you can join the Charlottesville community in rooting her on.

Help Charlottesville Women Feed the Homeless


Duner’s Chef Laura Fonner is leading an effort by Charlottesville Women in Food to help feed the homeless this winter, and you can help. Every Tuesday through March, Fonner and her team are providing dinners through PACEM, a local organization that coordinates space and volunteers to provide shelter for the homeless. The dinners will be served at a different church each week, with each one feeding approximately 80 people, plus volunteers.

Fonner says she became inspired to help earlier this year by people she met while serving a dinner for the homeless. “Being part of the Charlottesville Women in Food group,” thought Fonner, “this is the perfect opportunity to make this effort our first big thing as a group.”  And, it’s not just restaurant chefs, but women from all types of food businesses. “Take Nona’s pasta sauce and pair it with Mary Ann Valente’s homemade pasta, and all of a sudden you have an Italian dinner for the shelter,” Fonner says. “We are coming together as a group and using our culinary talents to pull together all of the meals.”

What makes it worthwhile, Fonner says, is seeing the direct impact on the lives of those in need. “It excites me,” Fonner  says, “because I will be able to hear all of their stories and how they got to be where they are and hopefully see some progress in their lives by the end of this season.”

Members of Charlottesville Women in Food do all of the cooking and provide all of the ingredients, and you can support their efforts. “Every donation of money, food, or physical help is going to be greatly appreciated,” says Fonner. To donate or volunteer, contact Fonner at

%d bloggers like this: