A South You Never Ate at Chatham Vineyards on Oct. 28 will celebrate the foodways of Virginia’s Eastern Shore along with the culture and stories behind them. This progressive dinner of all tapas includes an open bar with Eastern Shore beer and Chatham wine and a signature surprise cocktail. Twelve chefs have committed their time to crafting two dishes apiece for the small plates that will showcase some of the Shore’s most distinct ingredients.
This is another in our Meet the Chefs series that will introduce an all-star lineup of creative cooks who have committed their time to make this an unforgettable farm-to-table experience.
The scoop on Amy Brandt
Her bio in a nutshell: Amy Brandt is the owner of her own catering and events business, Amy B Catering. She earned her culinary arts degree from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, and moved to Virginia in 1985. After serving as head chef at Hagan’s Seafood, she opened her own restaurant, Lucky Star, which she owned with a partner for 16 years before selling it and moving to Cape Charles. Amy was Executive Chef at Bay Creek Resort and Club Marina Village complex for four years before opening Amy B Catering in Cheriton. Her hallmark is seasonal, local sourcing from local farmers, watermen and livestock farmers.
What Amy loves about Eastern Shore food, culture: Amy is a first-generation American, born to a Swiss father and a mother of Czechoslovakian heritage. “They were both post-Depression babies. We had a big garden. We lived close to the soil. We knew what it was like to have beef heart for dinner! We ate all our meals at home. Upstate New York was not very versatile as a foodway, so when I moved to Virginia in 1985, I was really struck by the depth of the Southern Food culture. I lived in Virginia Beach then and I’d drive to farms and pick up produce and I drove to the Shore to pick up crab meat and soft crabs. When I moved to the Shore in 2004, it felt very comfortable. Here there is access to so many neat people and products. Meeting Bernie Herman and discovering our shared passion for food and his passion for food history really ignited in me an interest in the foodways of the Eastern Shore and how to help our community via that in some way and to preserve that history. Like my parents, people here had to live on what they had, and I like that culture. I like the feeling of that.”
Her favorite Eastern Shore ingredients are …. “We can narrow it down to subgroups. For fish, my favorite is sheepshead. It’s so delightful! For birds, I love a Canada goose for personal consumption. I never met a vegetable I didn’t like. I’ll take it all depending on the season. I live seasonally — asparagus in the springtime is lovely along with berries. If I had to pick a favorite thing for summer, I adore melons. We also have a bunch of different people growing sweet potatoes. They all have such different flavors and textures. I love the Burgundy for sweet potato biscuits. I love the Diane for regular cooking. Also, I like to forage food, from wild mushrooms to chestnuts and wild berries. It’s very inspiring.”
Etc: “I feel very humbled and fortunate to work with the chefs who come and pour their efforts into this event. I feel inspired by their talent and how they use what they use for their dishes. You see their love and passion of this craft. I have so much gratitude for their support of the Eastern Shore Foodways group and Bernie’s mission to bring more focus onto the Eastern Shore as a real foodways like the deep south.”