Seasons turn at Seasonal Cook

dish-seasonalcookEleanor Porter and Doug Von Achen took over as owners of The Seasonal Cook on May 15.

After 10 years selling upscale cooking accoutrements and offering weekly cooking classes, the owners of the Seasonal Cook in the Main Street Market have finally passed the baton, er, spatula.

"We decided it was time to sell," says Jean Knorr, who opened the popular kitchen store a decade ago with her husband and partner Roger Rust, "to explore the opportunities of retirement– leisure, travel and volunteerism."

Finding the right buyers for a business– particularly these days– might be a challenge, but Knorr and Rust didn't have too look far to find new owners Eleanor Porter, 29, and Doug Von Achen, 37. Porter has been a manager at the store for the last two years, and  Von Achen, who recently popped the question to Porter, works as a cook at the South Street Brewery. The pair took over on May 15, and have kept the existing staff.

So any new plans for the kitchen shop?

Porter says they'll be expanding their cooking line, bringing in more wares made by local artisans, expanding their hours, and offering a lot more classes.

"We'll have 13 classes in June," says Porter, "and we'll try to do at least three classes a week."

Von Achen is a Charlottesville native who's been cooking in restaurants here for 23 years, including stints at the old Blue Ridge Brewery (now S¬ Tapas) and Moondance on the Downtown Mall (now Zocalo). Porter says he'll continue to work at South Street for another year.

Porter was born in New Orleans but moved to Charlottesville in her late teens to be near her sister, who was attending UVA.  She later made the decision to move back to New Orleans to be closer to her Mom, but then Katrina hit.

"My Mom's house, the house where I grew up, was in Gentilly, one of the hardest hit areas," says Porter.

Indeed, the London Avenue Canal levees in Gentilly were breached in two places during the storm.

"Over nine feet of water engulfed the house," says Porter. " We were wiped out."

So it was back to Charlottesville, this time as a Katrina evacuee.

More than three years later, now engaged and the owner of a new business, Porter says she's thankful for all the support she's received.

"Charlottesville," she says, "has been very good to me."

–Story last updated Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 4:06pm


wasn't si starr hill?

right, and before that it was blue ridge brewery.