Chef Vincent Badiee
Executive Chef of the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
Chef Vincent brings regional fine dining to the Blue Ridge
Chef Vincent takes guilty pleasure in imaginative ice cream, still enjoys his favorite childhood meal, pays homage to another utensil besides the knife, and has some pretty unique “can’t live withouts>”
Guilty Pleasure Snack: “Hands down, ice cream. I’m a huge fan of the creative mix of flavors from Jeni’s and OddFellows.”
Favorite Meal as a Child and Why: “My Persian grandmother would make Aboulou Polo (Sour Cherry Rice) with meatballs. I would ask for it as my birthday meal, every year. Haha, I still do! It’s salty, sweet, soft, and crunchy. I always eat it with yogurt, herbs, and green onions.”
Most Essential Element in the Kitchen: “For me, it’s spoons. I’ve probably spent the same amount on spoons that I have on knives — and I own some pretty incredible knives. I have a spoon problem. I’m always looking for antique silver spoons with the PERFECT shape at antique shops around the area.”
The One Condiment/Herb/Spice You Can’t Live Without: Fish sauce (condiment), Basil (herb), housemade toasted rice plus Lemongrass/Ginger powder (spice).
Meet Chef Vincent Badiee
Born into a Persian-American family and raised on a farm in Virginia, food was always a big part of his upbringing. “I grew up eating foods that were grown in our family gardens,” says Chef Vincent of The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm. “Both of my grandmothers had large gardens and we ate everything that we grew. My Persian grandmother, Monir, grew a lot of herbs and my American grandmother, Joann, mainly grew vegetables. Because of this, I was eating a lot of things that many people do not have the opportunity to ever experience. Have you ever had fresh grits??? Damn! They are DELICIOUS!”
Chef Vincent didn’t take a direct path to his extraordinary culinary career. “It’s a long story so I’ll try to summarize it. Food has always been a huge part of my life. I didn’t fully understand the potential to turn my love and knowledge of food into a career,” he admits.
“My first year of school was at a local University where I began my education to eventually become an attorney (not by choice, haha). I worked to pay for college. So that same year, I started working at a steakhouse since the schedule allowed me to go to school and work at the same time. Shortly after I started, I really began to enjoy the sense of accomplishment that cooking gave me. I also really thrived in the competitive nature of kitchens. I fell in love with it. So, I applied to culinary school during my second semester and was accepted. Once the semester was over – I dropped out and was off to NYC, then Italy.”
Gaining knowledge from the world’s best
It was in that country of glorious food that Chef Vincent began his education in earnest. He considers “respect for simplicity and craft” the heart of Italian cuisine. “While living in Italy, I saw what truly defined an artisan. There is a huge amount of respect and appreciation of skill level from their peers. This goes for any culinary craft in Italy – an heirloom farmer to an expert salami maker or a Pastaio/a. The appreciation is palpable.”
Chef Vincent explains, “For example – in America, it is common to go to the grocery store to pick up salami from the deli. There are questions about the food that consumers should want to understand – where was it made? Who made it? How was the animal treated? When I was in Avellino, Italy – a guy had me over for a pig slaughter in September. We made sausage, cured and hung a prosciutto, canned trotters and beans, and made pâtés. We used every part of the animal and people purchased directly. In a lot of ways Italian and Appalachian food are very similar.”
Newest journey for this well traveled Chef
After returning from Italy and working with some of the best chefs in the industry, including Chef Jose Andres of Washington, DC”s Zaytinya, Badiee is now Executive Chef at The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, one of the first dining establishments in the US to embrace locally sourced cuisine.
Chef Vincent’s childhood has definitely helped him define his culinary dreams. “Running a restaurant on a farm has been a dream of mine since I started this journey,” says the chef. “The ability to walk around and look at all the vegetables, fruits, and herbs and grab the freshest farm eggs … it’s incredible. To top it off, I’m doing it at the base of the Appalachian Mountains – one of the most seasonally diverse areas in the US – AND in my home state of Virginia.”
“I grew up eating foods in their purest and most honest form,” continues Chef Vincent. “I guess I could say that I was raised “farm-to-table”. Food that is produced on-site has flavors that can’t be reproduced. You can actually taste “fresh”. Pulling my own tomatoes off the vine and taking them to my grandmother to make my favorite tomato sandwich, had a huge impact on my life. I wasn’t aware of it while growing up, but tomatoes that are bought in grocery stores or “rushed tomatoes” aren’t allowed to be happy and fully ripen in the sun – which increases their sugar content and results in a more robust flavor. There is such a HUGE difference and you can absolutely taste it.
But being an Executive Chef isn’t just selecting from the garden what’s on the evening’s menu. “I’ve always been told, farm work is hard work, and I am here telling you, YES, IT IS!” Says Chef Vincent, “ Working at Patowmack has presented a whole new set of challenges that my team and I are excited to tackle. There is always something to learn and this is a pretty incredible place to do it. Next up, I’m learning how to tend beehives so that we can have them at Patowmack in the near future.”
Chef Vincent’s Passion for “Real Food”
Because of his relationship with the land as a child and his passion for amazing meals made from the freshest ingredients, Chef Vincent understands well the importance of the “real food” movement.
“I want everyone to really focus on your local farmers and fishermen – our communities. We need to reconnect with where our food originates and what it takes to produce it. I encourage everyone to visit local farms. I visit all the farms we source ingredients from at Patowmack and there isn’t a farm in the area that wouldn’t welcome the opportunity to educate the public about their process and products.”
“As we emerge from this global pandemic that has drastically affected so many of us economically, physically, and mentally – I’m hopeful that we can have a positive outcome with people paying more attention to their health and overall wellbeing – things that are heavily influenced by what we put into our bodies.”