Root to Table Salutes Women in Culinary & Agriculture

Root to Table started its newest chapter with the first event in the 2023 culinary series honoring the talented women of the Culinary and agricultural industries. On March 26th, guests enjoyed a true” culinary journey” at Bluemont Station Brewery & Winery in Bluemont, VA. Participants were spread out through the Manor House of Bluemont Station. Guests could travel room by room to learn about the culinary creators, their commitment to locally sourced ingredients, and their individual journeys. Eight amazing Chefs, four Winemakers, a Tea Maker, and multiple farmers gave their time and showcased their products and skill for Root to Table enthusiasts.

About the Experience

The actual “culinary journey” saw our Chefs, Farmers, and Beverage Makers spread out through the Manor House of Bluemont Station. Guests met in the main room to be greeted by Founder Nancy Craun, where they could talk to multiple chefs, a butcher, a tea maker, and Bluemont Station’s Wine expert before breaking into smaller groups to explore the Manor house. Each room had one to two Food Stations, a Farmer, and a beverage maker where groups could talk with each woman more while tasting their delicious creations!

After they visited each of the other three rooms of the Manor House, guests gathered back in the Chandelier Room to talk with our two distinguished pastry chefs.

Chef Ryan taking a picture with guests

Chef Miriam Conroy talking to guests

Guests enjoying Root to Table's Salute to Women 2023

Highlighting More of the Commonwealth

This inaugural Root to Table event saw seven new participants from the Charlottesville area of Virginia. One of our unique goals is to expand this series further across the state to expose more people to our mission of supporting “real” local food and the people behind the movement. In support of this goal, four Chefs, two Wine Makers, and a Tea Maker had their first Root to Table Culinary Series experience by joining us for an afternoon of culinary excellence.

Please visit these wonderful women’s pages to learn more about them and their businesses!

Chef Ryan Becklund

Ryan Becklund

Botanical Fare

Charlottesville, VA

Chef Melissa Close

Melissa Close

Mockingbird C’Ville

Charlottesville, VA

Chef Laura Fonner

Laura Fonner


Charlottesville, VA

Chef Rachel Pennington

Rachel Pennington

The Pie Chest

Charlottesville, VA

Athena Eastwood of Eastwood Farm & Winery

Athena Eastwood

Eastwood Farm & Winery

Charlottesville, VA

Erica of Honeysuckle Creek Farm

Erica Cavanaugh

Honeysuckle Creek Farm

Charlottesville, VA

Sharon, Shannon, & Caitlin of Horton's Vineyard

Credit – Washington Post

Shannon & Caitlin Horton

Horton Vineyards

Charlottesville, VA

Experiencing Culinary Talents from Northern Virginia and the Panhandle of West Virginia

Joining the Charlottesville participants were 3 unique Partners and a Sponsor of the Root to Table Culinary Series. Chef Mary Ellen Diaz is one of the newest Chefs to have earned the Root to Table Excellence award; this was the first event she participated in. The planning of this event brought Mary Ellen to us, and the mission of Root to Table is one she wants to promote in her restaurant of Alma Bea in Shepherdstown, WV.

Dessert was divided among two talented Chefs, one being Mykel Winterstine from The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm. This was the 2nd consecutive event where Mykel has been able to showcase immense talent with pastries, and she did not disappoint. Her creations featured a Salted Lavender Honey Tart and Yuzu Caramel Cheesecake.

The centerpiece of the welcome hour was the charcuterie station presented by Chef Amanda Luhowiak of The Whole Ox in Marshall, VA. Like Mykel, this was also the 2nd consecutive event where Amanda has been able to showcase her business and culinary talents to Root to Table guests. As a quick aside, we’d like to thank Amanda and everyone at The Whole Ox for sponsoring our Soup Program with CCAP in Winchester. They graciously donated over 1,000 soup containers filled by several Chefs and Restaurants and gave them to CCAP to stock their “Freedge” in the designated food desert in Winchester. 

Chef Amanda's Charcuterie Box

Chef Mary Ellen's dish at Root to Table's Salute to Women

Chef Mykel's dessert from Root to Table's March 2023 event

Joining our talented Culinarians with Virginia’s Finest Wine

Kari Rushing and Cara Mroczek from Root to Table's Salute to Women eventChef Kari Rushing of Vault & Cellar in Middletown, VA, served guests heartier dishes for their afternoon journey. Her Southern Braised Goat Shank and Fried Catfish creations were paired with wines from less than 10 miles from her restaurant! Star in the Valley Estate Winery owner Cara Mroczk visited Kari at her restaurant before the event to specifically pick the best wines to compliment her dishes, and the results were remarkable!

This was one of many pairings, however. We were fortunate to have the four winemakers help pair their prized beverages with the Chefs’ creations. The other pairs were – Chef Mary Ellen with wines from Briede Family Vineyard, Chef Laura with wines from Horton Vineyards, and Chef Melissa with wines picked from Eastwood Farm & Winery.

This aspect of the event is one of the reasons this was an authentic culinary journey for Root to Table guests. Very often, there is an emphasis on one of these components over the other. However, this event was able to capture both meshing as one!

Thank You to the Farmers and our Root to Table Ambassadors

These eight top chefs honored the best “real food” from family farms. In addition to proteins from Maple Leaf and Long Stone, the chefs used products from Winchester’s Fox Urban Farm, Patowmack Farm, and 9 other local farms. One of the missions of the Root to Table Culinary Series is to highlight local farms and their products. In addition, as mentioned years ago, we aim to give transparency to consumers so they have a sense of place when eating their food.

We were also honored to have three Root to Table Ambassadors lead guests throughout their afternoon of culinary journeys! We would like to say thank you to Carissa Zanella of Hillbrook Inn (Charles Town, WV), Connie Heyer of Lilah Restaurant (Shepherdstown, WV), and Miriam Conroy of Blue Ridge Community & Technical College (Martinsburg, WV).

What’s next for Taste’s Root to Table

The 2023 lineup of events has been set, and you can see where we will be by visiting our Food Events page. Overall this was an incredibly successful Inaugural event for the series. Be on the lookout for more information about this event in 2024. In addition, we’re planning an extravaganza in Charlottesville, VA, to once again salute the fantastic women in Culinary & Agriculture!

Because of their popularity, Root to Table culinary experiences sell out quickly. Keep up with Root to Table by subscribing to Taste’s newsletter, and follow this “real food” community on Facebook and Instagram.

Meet our Growing Food Community

Chef John Leonard of Hunters Head Tavern

Chef John Leonard
Hunter’s Head Tavern

Chef Pete Smith of Market Salamander

Roderick (Pete) Smith
Market Salamander

Chef Timothy Rampey of Hillbrook Inn

Timothy Rampey
Hillbrook Inn & Spa