Feed Your Holiday Soul: Comfort Food Recipes from Virginia Chefs and Artisans


During this time of year, our focus revolves around our favorite thing – food. We dedicate a significant portion of our time to cooking, eating, and contemplating both. And when it comes to the holidays, what could be better than indulging in comfort food? To spark your culinary creativity, we’ve consulted the minds of some of the Commonwealth’s leading culinary experts for unique inspiration. Dive in and get started on your cooking adventures!

Anita Parris Soule’s Pumpkin Scones


Anita Parris Soule is a born and raised Virginia girl with a passion for delicious food, beautiful words, and childhood memories. She combines these passions on Wild Thistle Kitchen, a blog she created in 2013 (with the original name Cook on a Whim) to share her love of cooking and writing. Her appetite for food, cooking, and all things culinary was inspired early on by her father and has never stopped growing. With a strong French influence, her meals are simple, classic, and unique. She loves baking sweet treats, too—especially on snow days. She lives in the country with her husband, kids, and animals. When she’s not whipping up delicious recipes, she’s outside picking wildflowers, catching fireflies, visiting farmer’s markets, walking through the forest, and taking in all the beauty Virginia has to offer.

Give her pumpkin scones a try and enjoy this delicious treat with a cup of local coffee!

Travis Milton’s Oyster Dressing

Image: Kindler Studios
Image: Kindler Studios

With Milton’s in St. Paul, Virginia, opening late this year and two more eateries—Shovel & Pick and Simply Grand—coming to Bristol in 2018, Chef Travis Milton draws upon his rural Virginia roots and the rich heritage of Appalachian and Southern cooking to celebrate the region right on the plate. He’s committed to sourcing from local farmers and other purveyors in order to authentically represent Virginia’s varied foodways, something everyone can appreciate.

Chef Milton shares with us a recipe that reflects his go-to holiday meal: oysters, something not popularly associated with Appalachia but, he points out, “very much a part of the food culture of the mountains.” His recipe for cornbread oyster dressing is full of comfort, including a homemade cornbread recipe using smoky bacon fat.

Milton loves the diversity of Virginia, reflecting on its wide range of local offerings, “We go from oceans on the east, utilizing wonderful crab, outstanding oysters, and super cool things like Sugar Toads and Croaker, and on the other end it’s the Appalachian Mountains yielding unique heirloom vegetables and generations old techniques of preservation.” His appreciation shows in the complex dishes he creates, utilizing various local ingredients to give them all an abundance of flavor.

Todd Thrasher’s Fig Cocktail

Image: Todd Thrasher
Image: Todd Thrasher

Todd Thrasher wears a whole wardrobe’s worth of hats, from scuba diver to golfer. But it’s as a “liquid savant” that he’s blazed a nationally-known name for himself, serving as sommelier and mixologist at Cathal Armstrong’s Restaurant Eve as well as Eammon’s A Dublin Chipper, PX, and Society Fair. He curates world-class wine lists and schemes up creative specialty cocktails that draw on unique ingredients and often express distinct stories and themes.

“I strive to do things differently,” he says. “I want our guests to remember what they drank just as much as what they ate—I want them to experience it the way I do.”

So who better than libation legend Todd Thrasher to supply the headlining cocktail for your holiday soiree? Thrasher’s  spin on a classic I am Virginia” Old Fashioned is sure to impress and nod to the nostalgia of Virginia.

Cathal Armstrong’s Spiced Beef Sandwiches

Image: Jonathan Timmes for NOVA Mag
Image: Jonathan Timmes for NOVA Mag

Even with all the accolades, Armstrong remains inspired by his Dublin upbringing and time spent in the kitchen and in the garden with his father, whom he describes as “a natural, a great cook.” Spiced beef is a big Dublin tradition at Christmastime, being served after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. He brings us this classic recipe of spiced beef sandwiches to bring some Irish flavor to any Christmas Eve soiree. 

We hope you can bring these four delectable recipes to life this December. Be on the lookout for more culinary delights from local chefs using Virginia ingredients in our new Recipes section. From all of us at Virginia Foodie, here’s wishing each and every one of you a very happy (and hearty) holiday season!

Header Illustration is a collaboration between Miriam Weirich and VA Foodie.

Similar Posts