Taste of Chesapeake pairs acclaimed local chefs at DC’s Navy Yard

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Taste of Chesapeake (Part 1)

Are you looking for a little appetizer before you devour Thanksgiving dinner?

D.C.-based Shilling Canning Company hosts “Taste of Chesapeake” in Navy Yard over two nights this Wednesday and Thursday as part of its Harvest Dinner series.

“This is the time of year here in the Mid Atlantic where it’s the harvest season, so how do we do something to highlight the wonderful farmers and fishermen and producers of the Chesapeake region?” executive chef Reid Shilling told WTOP. “That led me in only one direction — Spike is somebody who I’ve looked up to for a long time.”

He’s referring to Spike Gjerde, the James Beard Award-winning chef of Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, which is partnering with Shilling for the Taste of Chesapeake.

“One of the most exciting things for me is to see a chef of Reid’s caliber putting himself into this and finding a way to use his talent, experience and skill to create delicious things for guests, things I haven’t seen or tasted before,” Gjerde told WTOP.

The menu will spotlight Jon Shaw’s Karma Farm based in Monkton, Maryland.

“I probably bought the first box of tomatoes that Jon ever dragged into the restaurant,” Gjerde said. “Then he started selling in D.C. and I think Reid is one of his best customers down there. … His produce is pristine. He is kind of a carrot whisperer, I would say. What comes from the farm is beautiful, beautiful produce, just delicious.”

“He’s a staple of our menu here at Shilling Canning Company,” Shilling said. “He began as an all-purpose farm. He was just kind of exploring and figuring out what he wanted to do, then he really honed in on growing produce for restaurants and chefs.”

Together, Shilling and Gjerde will design a menu using these local ingredients.

Shilling will tackle the first course of the meal.

“We’re gonna highlight some of Jon’s beets,” Shilling said. “We’re gonna do a black walnut pierogi, then leaping into the entire, we’re going to highlight Seven Hills strip steak, a producer out of Virginia …. with some braised collard greens, foraged mushrooms, Beauregard sweet-potato mousse and Row 7 squashes [for] porridge.”

After that, Gjerde provides the second course.

“We’re getting really beautiful, big fluke right out of Chincoteague [with] some of Jon’s daikon radish, so it’ll have a bit of an Asian vibe,” Gjerde said. “I’m gonna use some Keepwell soy sauce on that dish and a really sweet carrot puree [with] quince, parsnip, a little buckwheat crepe and like a maple cream for dessert.”

Tickets are $125, including gratuity. Each guest will receive a complementary bottle of Gjerde’s Snake Oil Hot Sauce. A portion of the proceeds will benefit a local charity.

“We’ve got a great group up here in Baltimore City called Farm Alliance Baltimore,” Gjerde said. “They sell at some of our farmers markets and they help farmers who are relatively small scale get their products to market and to folks like me. Love their work and what they’re doing, not only for farmers, but helping solve questions of food access.”

The restaurant will follow all CDC guidelines with socially distant table settings.

“Our mission here every day is for diners to feel safe, and these events are no exception,” Shilling said. “Tickets are limited obviously because our capacity is limited. There are 6 feet in between not just tables but also seats, so you won’t be relatively close to anyone whether you’re indoors or outdoors. Outdoors we’ve got some tents.”

Reservations can be made on Resy, and carry-out orders can be made on Tock.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Taste of Chesapeake (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

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