Best Chef

Readers' Pick

Jason Alley

Comfort, 200 W. Broad St., 780-004, comfortrestaurant.com

Pasture, 416 E. Grace St., 780-0416, pasturerva.com

Second Place: Joe Sparatta, Heritage and Southbound

Third Place: Lee Gregory, the Roosevelt and Southbound

Pasture and Comfort’s Jason Alley may have grown up in Southwestern Virginia but he’s a die-hard Richmonder now. When he’s not in Pasture’s kitchen, Alley travels across the country cooking at events and making friends with out-of-town chefs as the city’s unofficial food ambassador. Pork is the backbone of his menu, and from slowly smoking pulled pork for hours to curing hams for months, Alley knows his way around every part of the pig. Blame him for the small plates you see everywhere — he embraced them fervently when he opened Pasture — but thank him for opening two restaurants in areas that hadn’t yet seen the revitalization to come. Heritage’s Joe Sparrata may have his attention divided between two restaurants now, but that doesn’t stop him from using his first place as a workshop and lab for creating flavor sensations. Sparrata’s Southbound partner, Lee Gregory, who also co-owns the Roosevelt, proves that those national awards have weight — grab a burger or something fancier at either restaurant and the food will speak for itself.

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