With the menu for the evening complete and the doors about to be opened, a mini-migration out the backdoor happened as most if not all of the back and front of the house staff made their way to a “kitchen ritual” in the back parking lot.
By Justin Ide
I’m new to the area and last month when the James Beard Foundation Semi-Finalists were announced, I was excited to see a host of chefs I had photographed in New England over the past few years. Names like Barbara Lynch, Will Gilson, Jamie Bissonnette, Joanne Chang and Matt Jennings were familiar to me, but the name that did surprise me was Ian Boden from Glass Haus Kitchen right here in Charlottesville. I immediately shot an email to Chef Boden, who invited me to the GHK that same day.
Slipping in the kitchen door, I found Chef Boden and Sous-Chef Mike Yager out front standing on opposite sides of the bar talking with owner J.F. Legault. The news of the James Beard Foundation semi-final announcements had everyone a bit dazed and surprised, and combined with a glowing review that same week from The Washington Post everyone’s smart phones were a twitter with inquires and congratulations. Although Chef Boden didn’t make the finalists list announced today, to be included in the nominations clearly speaks of things to come for him and Charlottesville.
I joined the kitchen staff on a Thursday afternoon as they prepared for evening service (GHK is open Tuesday – Saturday starting at 5:30 PM) and witnessed a symphonic-like performance from Chef Boden and his small (4 people and no dishwasher) kitchen staff. Having spent many hours inside kitchens while prep work was done, I was surprised at how efficient and collaborative the work was done.
Collaboration is also important in the creation of menus for Glass Haus Kitchen, and working with local farmers and providers is paramount for Chef Boden. “We’re fielding phone calls and emails seven days a week,” from providers and farmers Chef said. “It’s part of what I do, to deal with local products, it’s kind of what it takes.” As an example he said, “Will from The Rock Barn calls me every Tuesday like clockwork,” he continued, “and some of my other farmers email me on Saturday and then call me on Tuesday to follow up. It all depends.”
Servers started to arrive, dressed in black and green, and family meal was shared around the bar. Mise en place was assembled at each station in the kitchen, and at long last a dishwasher finally arrived. With the menu for the evening complete and the doors about to be opened, a mini-migration out the backdoor happened as most if not all of the back and front of the house staff made their way to a “kitchen ritual” in the back parking lot.
Once orders started to crackle out of the ticket machine, I thanked Chef and his staff for having me, and joined my wife in the front of the house for dinner. Midway through our first course, fried rabbit belly in lettuce wraps and beef tartare, we both looked up and simultaneously remarked that this was the best food we’d had since moving to Charlottesville, and as good as any we’d had in Boston in the past.
Although the James Beard Award won’t be part of Chef Ian Boden’s year in review this year, rest assured that his nomination has put his cooking style and ability in the spotlight here in Charlottesville, and it’s only a matter of time before JBF comes knocking on his door again.
The Glass Haus
313 second st. se.