'Rag Mountain' rations: Chefs show off for Beard

Chef Angelo Vangelopoulos of The Ivy Inn is the newest member of an elite group: local restaurateurs, who've been invited to sauté, poach, roast, sear, and pour for diners at the esteemed James Beard House in New York City.

Along with Tony Champ of White Hall Vineyards, Vangelopoulos and his four-cook team will bring the flavors of Virginia to this historic West 12th Street residence on December 21 in a seasonal meal appropriately labeled "A Shenandoah Christmas."

"The James Beard House is the best forum I know where chefs, both young and old, both well-known and not so well-known, can test their imagination and technical prowess," says Chicago's Charlie Trotter.

For Vangelopoulos, following in the footsteps of other "Bearded" locals like Alex Montiel (The Boar's Head and Cocina del Sol) and Tim Burgess and Vincent Derquenne (Bizou and Bang!), this won't be his first Beard House gig.

Though only 34 years old, he has quite a culinary pedigree. Not only does he come from a family of restaurateurs, but before purchasing the Ivy Inn from Barbara Shifflett 10 years ago, Vangelopoulos worked under two of our nation's most celebrated chefs: Roberto Donna of Galileo and Robert Greault of La Colline (both in D.C.). Angelo also went to culinary school with James Beard Award-winner Todd Gray of Equinox fame (D.C.). Having worked with these chefs on Beard House events in the past, Vangelopoulos knows exactly how tiny the celebrated kitchen is. "We'll do most of the prep work here and finish things up in New York," he says.

The December 21 dinner– which takes advantage of relationships with local farmers that the Ivy Inn has cultivated over the years– includes dishes like "Rag Mountain" smoked trout, pan-seared wild Chesapeake rockfish, sausage-wrapped Virginia lamb (from Nelson County), and a warm tartelette of Virginia apples (Henley Orchard) and quince. A different White Hall vintage accompanies each of the six courses. Tickets are $115 all-inclusive­ but there's a special discount available for locals through The Ivy Inn.

Those of us who can't make it to New York for this festive event, needn't despair. Vangelopoulos has already begun incorporating some of the Beard House dinner courses into the Ivy Inn's seasonal menu.

So what single word best defines Virginia cuisine, in Vangelopoulos' opinion? "Simplicity," he answers. Lord knows, we could all use a bit more of that this holiday season!


 One of Charlottesville's iconic restaurants, Tokyo Rose, will soon be changing hands. Owner and regular performer Atsushi Miura tells Dish he expects the deal to be completed by December 30.

For readers unfamiliar with the rich history of this unique sushi bar (our town's first) and underground music club, Miura was lured to Charlottesville from Japan 15 years ago by the Rose's original owner-creator, Ken Mori. If Charlottesville had a restaurant "hall of fame," Mori'd be one of the first inductees.

New arrivals in town will have a hard time believing that as recently as the late '80s there were only a handful of innovative restaurants hereabouts. Mori owned three of them– including Tokyo Rose (daringly named after the Japanese treason-tried WWII radio announcer), Tennessee Waltz (Southern comfort food with a nifty modern aesthetic in the current Carmello's location on Emmet) and the still-familiar (as Escafé) Eastern Standard.

Will Tokyo Rose keep Mori's torch aflame even after it changes hands? We'll keep our fingers crossed, but a note on the Rose's website (announcing no more live acts after December 18 due to a change in ownership) sounds sadly swan-songish: "We thank you for helping and coming to Tokyo Rose. We hope you can find somewhere else to enjoy your life with live music."

Angelo Vangelopoulos of The Ivy Inn