We make no secret at Quirk Hotel that we are some of the most gastronomically focused and obsessed people you will ever meet. With so many great options in the city, and a diverse staff from around the country and the globe, we had one simple question for our staff. “What is the best thing you ever ate?” The answers were wide-ranging, from ritzy restaurants from around the world, to the nostalgic classics that remind them of home.
It would be remiss of us to not start with the person in charge of our own mission to inspire your palate, Executive Chef David Dunlap. Having made his home in both California and Virginia, I expected some of the culinary giants of these areas to pop up in his answer, but he surprised me with “The Unagi Bento Box at Edomasa, a little Sushi Bar in Santa Barbara. It’s eel. It’s so simple yet so delicious. The depth of flavor is insane.”
Executive Sous Chef Kyle Cox had a nod to a culinary giant however, with the Chicken Liver Mousse from April Bloomfield’s Spotted Pig in the West Village of New York City topping his list. “I don’t even think we talked the entire time that dish was on the table. We didn’t want to be done with it either though.”
Quirk Hotel has a lot of hidden gastronomes, such as Assistant Controller Anna Mazzola, who prior to coming to the United States, was an early employee of Slow Food, an organization dedicated to preserving local culinary traditions. Her answer was a traditional Northern Italian dish, Brassata al Barolo, from the tiny and unassuming yet world renowned Boccon di Vino in the small city of Bra, Italy. One of the eight traditional dishes of classic Piemontese cuisine, this seemed to be a common theme amongst the expats I interviewed, the foods from home done perfectly.
Ali Hassan, a native of Iraq who has also resided in Syria and who currently works in our Housekeeping department, is a lover and expert in all things kebab. “In Syria, they are very obsessed with cooking and food. However I think Kebab from Iraq is the best in the world.”
One not need travel to northern Italy or the Levant, or even stray too far from the comfort foods most familiar to us to find some delicious suggestions though. Braxton Decker, an employee in our Culinary Department under Chef Dunlap didn’t even have to go two blocks. “A couple menus back, Saison [an award winning, tiny local cocktail and dining focused restaurant] had a burger they were dressing with bone marrow mayonnaise, it was ridiculous!”
With the city of Richmond’s culinary scene in its big bang phase right now, there are soon to be many more people with answers from right in the heart of Richmond. With all of us making sure we get our inspiration from the best sources, be they your Great Grandma’s Gnocchi, or your culinary team’s trips across the globe in search of inspiration and a good meal, there are sure to be more answers to come from this little city.