It took a four-course tasting menu for chef Jason Alley of Comfort restaurant to earn a new title. Judges at starchefs.com have named Alley and a handful of other area chefs as rising stars in a national search.
Back in July, Alley and his team prepared deviled eggs, house-made crackers and pickles, pimento cheese, potted shrimp with parsley salad, braised pork cheeks over grits and fried quail with truffle honey for the judging panel. Comfort's traditional Southern foods, eight years on Richmond's plate, made the cut.
“It's a huge honor and it's really validating,” Alley says of the award. “It's nice to get national recognition that this kind of cooking is important. We hope it will continue to open doors.”
The list of regional rising chefs includes John and Karen Shields of Town House in Chilhowie; Bryan Voltaggio of Volt in Frederick, Md.; Bertrand Chemel of 2841 in Falls Church; and Clayton Miller of Trummer's on Main in Clifton.
To claim their awards, that group will prepare a feast for 400 guests on Oct. 26 in Washington. For Alley, that means another big batch of pork cheeks with juniper and ginger beer over Byrd Mill stone-ground grits topped with arugula salad. He'll do the work in honor of his mentor, the late Gene Chandler, whose son Chris is a mainstay in the Comfort kitchen.