Bradshaw crosses off bucket list

Published 9:19 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2016

An award-winning Suffolk chef will get to cross an item off his culinary bucket list next month.

Harper Bradshaw

Harper Bradshaw

Harper Bradshaw, of Harper’s Table on North Main Street, has been invited to cook at New York’s James Beard Foundation House during a special Southern-themed, $170-per-plate dinner on April 18.

“I think it’s a bucket-list thing for most chefs,” Bradshaw said. “The James Beard Foundation is an organization that is all about continuing the culinary world forward.”

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Bradshaw was invited by his friend Ian Boden, who will be another of the five chefs participating. Boden pitched the theme to the foundation, which regularly holds fine dining experiences as fundraisers to continue its work.

“They came up with this idea, ‘Small Town, Big Flavor,’” Bradshaw said. “All of the chefs that are involved with this event are from small communities and doing things under the radar.”

Suffolk is by far the biggest community whence the participating chefs hail. The chefs besides Bradshaw are Boden, of The Shack in Staunton; Nate Allen, of Knife & Fork in Spruce Pine, N.C.; David Bauer, of Farm & Sparrow Bakery in Candler, N.C.; and Kyle McKnight, of Highland Avenue in Hickory, N.C.

Each of the chefs will prepare a dinner course as well as an hors d’oeuvre or dessert.

Bradshaw has chosen a couple of dishes that have personal and regional meaning.

“I’m always inspired by the things we have available to us, and sometimes they’re more eclectic, and maybe they’re humble ingredients that may not be used and celebrated in other parts of the country,” Bradshaw said.

For his hors d’oeuvre, he will prepare Virginia Eastern Shore oysters seasoned with country ham fat, potatoes and lemons.

The oysters will come from Indian Rock Oysters and will be plucked from the bay on the morning before the dinner.

“I’ll actually pick them up on the drive up on the Eastern Shore,” Bradshaw said.

The oysters will be served warm.

“It’s just a really simple preparation,” he said. “It just really speaks to me about our micro-region of Coastal Virginia and specifically the country ham that we’re well known for. The smoky earthiness of the country ham does really well with the oysters.”

For Bradshaw’s dinner course, he has chosen salt herring with young beets, asparagus, green garlic and pistachios.

“It’s something that really has a special place in my heart,” Bradshaw said. His grandparents made salt herring on Christmas morning every year when he was growing up, and he continues to do the same for his family.

Bradshaw said he is excited about the new venture coming at a time of year for “new” vegetables.

“That’s when spring really starts to pop, so we’re going to have the first beets and the first asparagus and all those first vegetables that we’re always excited about,” he said.

Although Bradshaw won’t be able to take his staff along, the chefs will be collaborating and helping each other out with the work involved.

“It’s pretty unreal for a tiny little restaurant in Suffolk, Va., to be invited to do all these things,” he said.

Meanwhile, his staff of 14 will be holding down the fort at Harper’s Table.

“I have a really amazing staff,” he said. They deserve as much credit.”