No matter which region you’re in, Virginia has an impressive culinary scene, with dozens of notable chefs creating inspired dishes from locally sourced ingredients that bring the best flavors of the Commonwealth together in uniquely delicious ways. To shine a spotlight on the best eats in Virginia, we talked with a few of these chefs, from the award-winning seasoned professionals to the rising stars that have garnered attention in national and even international publications. Follow our “Inside the Kitchen” series as we take a look at all there is to Eat.Drink.LOVE in Virginia!
Photo Credit: Rose Moot
Pico Taqueria is a casual island restaurant that serves gourmet tacos with creative combinations that incorporate the unique flavors of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Chef Rose Moot not only helms the kitchen of Pico Taqueria, but she is also the owner of the restaurant, along with her husband, Dylan Moot, and brother and sister in law, Nathan Moot and Kate Moot. Rose and her family of culinary professionals have thrown out the rulebook that says what belongs on a taco and have incorporated fresh shore ingredients such as oysters, clams, sweet potatoes, and blueberries to create flavors that keep Chincoteague locals and guests alike coming back for more.
Want to know more about Pico Taqueria and Chef Moot? Read on to learn about some of her chef secrets followed by one of Chef Moot’s favorite recipes!
Do you have a few go-to producers, farms, or other purveyors you prefer to get your local ingredients from?
The seasons on the shore are fickle. In order to do the summer volume and keep a consistent menu, we do use Sysco and Teddy Bear Produce. When in season, we try to get as much from farmers as we can and are always looking for new relationships to bring more of the shore produce to our guests. In the past we’ve used B-Dat Farms (tomatoes and corn), Martin’s Crab House (softshell crabs),Tom’s Cove Aqua Farms (oysters), Vessey Orchards (strawberries and apples), and Perennial Roots Farm. We use Perennial Roots mostly for our special tacos where we can play around a bit, but we try to get arugula and thai basil from them weekly. This year we also used peaches from Pickett’s Harbor farms for my favorite peach habanero salsa!
What are your favorite Virginia flavors?
I love the sweet potatoes. Before moving to the shore, I did not know what a Hayman potato was. I love the subtle sweet flavor and how it can be used so well for sweet and savory dishes. Also, Chincoteague in particular has turned me on to some great oyster stuffings that I never thought I would eat!
What is your favorite thing to cook for yourself?
I love making soups and stews. While they are cooking, they warm the house and fill it with the best smells! I really love making my mushroom hot and sour soup, but if we’re talking eastern shore ingredients, I would make my chicken dumpling soup. The “dumplings” are more meatball-ish, and the recipe is ever changing. I’ve been known to add more lemon and garlic in the winter to ward off colds and butternut squash in the fall to make it slightly more sweet. This year I have been getting a CSA box from Perennial Roots farm and used shiso in the chicken dumplings and eggplant in the soup along with your usual suspects of onion, carrot, and celery.
What Virginia wine, craft beer, cider, or cocktail would you pair with that?
Any white wine from Chatham Vineyards would be great with the Chicken Soup, even if I am much more partial to the Cabernet Franc.
What is your favorite vacation spot in Virginia?
In all of Virginia? As much as I love Chincoteague, I love the mountains and forests more than the beach. I love going out toward Charlottesville. My husband and I like to hike and camp in Shenandoah, taste test all the wineries, go fly fishing, visit the caverns in Luray, and we have even taken a blacksmithing class out there.
Chef Recipe Spotlight: Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
“Makes two 9-inch pies. I use Jack Daniels as my bourbon, but any bourbon will do!”
Chef Rose Moot
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup bourbon (I use Jack Daniels)
- ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup pecan halves
- Whisk together eggs and sugar. Melt the butter and add to the egg mixture.
- Whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, and bourbon.
- Arrange pecans and chocolate chips in the bottom of pre-baked 9-inch pie crusts.
- Pour in the liquid and bake at 300 degrees F for about 45 minutes-1 hour or until set.
Looking for more incredibly tasty recipes from Virginia’s top chefs? Stay tuned for more Inside the Kitchen articles and check out these other articles in the chef series:
- Chef Brian Noyes of Red Truck Bakery—Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread Cake
- Chef Mikey Reisenberg of Mashita—Black Trumpet Truffle Pasta
- Chef Jose Arevalos of Woodstock Cafe—Pomegranate Burrata Squash Salad
- Chef Rachel FitzGerald of Magpie Dinery—Apple Bacon Cheddar Sandwich
- Chef Dale Ford of Devils Backbone Brewing Company—Braised Short Ribs with White Cheddar Byrd Mill Truffle Grits, Crispy Brussels, & Simple Sauce