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!
Located in Harrisonburg, Mashita began as a food truck in 2013, with Chef and owner Mikey Reisenberg teaming up with Sous Chef Kevin Chapman. Chef Reisenberg was born in Seoul, South Korea and adopted as an infant, growing up in the Shenandoah Valley and then earning his collegiate degree from James Madison University. Raised in a self-employed family, Chef Reisenberg worked for his father’s businesses and learned the importance of community, networking, discipline, and hard work.
Photo Credit: Aaron Zook, IG account: @aaron.zook
Chef Reisenberg credits his mother and father for his passion, work ethic, foundational cooking knowledge, and the belief that food nourishes the body and the soul. His parents are not chefs in their own rights, but they both placed an importance on home cooked meals that were shared around the same dinner table. Chef Reisenberg quickly realized that not all households operate in the same fashion. Instead of following reheating instructions on commercial packaging solutions, he gravitated towards the mystery and science of how fresh ingredients can be transformed through heat, seasoning, and technique into something completely new. While the finished product nourished the body, the desire to learn, grow, and share his passion also nourished his soul.
While Mashita’s menu was originally built around Korean-inspired menu items such as homemade steamed buns, quick pickle kimchi, and bulgogi (traditional marinated beef), Chef Reisenberg and his team quickly realized that replicating or mimicking traditional Korean foods was not what brought joy to the process, and Chef Reisenberg began developing his own recipes and takes on dishes and flavors that could serve as the foundation for growth and a unique culinary identity.
After six years of operating as a food truck, expanding catering operations, and developing a plethora of special menu items, he opened Mashita restaurant in downtown Harrisonburg. The restaurant features many of the food truck’s most popular special items as a part of its everyday menu, but Chef Reisenberg never stops dreaming, creating, and producing. In a single year, Mashita has served over 65 special menu items, with many of them being developed and offered at the height of COVID-19. By keeping menu items fresh and changing dishes based on product availability and seasonality, Chef Reisenberg challenges himself and his staff to create fresh, innovative cuisine.
Photo Credit: Aaron Zook, IG account: @aaron.zook
Want to know more about Mashita and Chef Reisenberg? Read on to learn about some of his chef secrets followed by one of Chef Reisenberg’s favorite recipes!
What makes the Shenandoah Valley region unique when it comes to food?
The Shenandoah Valley presents a unique mix of independent producers, farmers, craftsmen, and wild foraged food options, which helps to influence the culinary realm. Regional farmers markets provide alternative avenues for local sourcing options, and many independent producers will offer to grow items specific to their buyers. This intermingling of farmers and restaurants establishes a mutually beneficial relationship that connects producers of raw goods with the end consumer, thus strengthening local economies and providing education to the public. We believe these relationships and the understanding of where food and ingredients come from is an important piece of understanding how and why restaurants and chefs operate the way that they do. The more educated and aware the end consumer feels about a certain product yields a greater demographic or market to sell our products to. Wild foraged ramps and mushrooms have become quite popular this season, and are a good example of this education I discussed.
Who are a few of your go-to producers and local farms?
Woods Edge Farm, North Mountain Produce, Overlook Farms, and Portwood Acres.
What are some of your favorite Virginia flavors?
Winter squash, locally foraged mushrooms, and local apples are a few of my favorite flavors.
What is your favorite thing to cook for yourself?
Cacio e pepe – essentially a more elegantly prepared butter and parmesan pasta dish with black pepper. The dish is simple yet delicious, and is conducive to augmentation or adding additional flavors and ingredients
What Virginia craft beverage would you pair with this recipe?
Old Hill Blackberry Cider – pairs well with savory foods and is a fond farewell to summer.
Brothers Cerveza Hermanos – a newer brew from our friends at Brothers Craft Brewing that is crisp, light, and pairs well with spicy and umami flavors.
Where is your favorite place to vacation in Virginia?
My wife and I always think of Williamsburg when we need a getaway. The historic district is beautiful, especially during the holidays.
Chef Recipe Spotlight: Black Trumpet Truffle Pasta
Photo Credit: Mashita
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp white truffle oil
- 2 large whole eggs
- 12 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tbsp ground black trumpet mushroom powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- Create a well with flour and place all other ingredients inside the well, using your fingers to break up the egg yolks, combine ingredients, and slowly pull in flour.
- Slowly draw ingredients together to form a slightly shaggy dough ball, cover and let rest for 30 min to an hour.
- Re-knead to form a smooth dough ball, cover and let rest an additional 30 minutes.
- Using a pasta roller, cut dough into equal sections to roll into your favorite pasta shape.
- Cook finished noodles in boiling water for approximately 2 minutes or until noodles float.
- Toss with brown butter and your favorite vegetables or mushrooms!
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 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
Wonderful article. Chef Mikey is doing an outstanding job