We had the pleasure of working with chef Aaron Deal at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival last month. Hailing from western North Carolina, Aaron’s inspiration comes from native southern ingredients and the farmers and artisans making a renaissance of fresh, local foods. He showcases them at The River and Rail in Roanoke, Virginia, where he is Executive Chef. A bistro with traditional southern flavors taking the occasional trip to another continent, it’s not uncommon to find a southern staple like collard greens turned into kim chi or a French pork fromage de tete served with ice box pickles. Since joining The River and Rail as Executive Chef in 2012, the restaurant has been voted one of the 10 Best Southern Fine Dining Restaurants by USA Today, 100 Best Restaurants in the South by Southern Living, and consistently been voted the Best Restaurant in Roanoke by Roanoker Magazine.
His culinary talents have won him several accolades including winning Chicago Social’s Best New Chef Under 30 and being nominated a Rising Star semi-finalist at the James Beard Awards in 2009. He earned an appearance on the Food Network, and won the first place on the competition show Guy’s Grocery Games in 2014.
For the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, Aaron took a southern spin on a classic Spanish soup, blending up a refreshing white gazpacho with tangy and slightly sweet, pickled shrimp. Since tomatoes aren’t yet at their peak, this version of gazpacho is a nice alternative for a warm spring evening. He recommends a garnish of shrimp, which adds a nice depth and some protein to the gazpacho.
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