By Richie Nakano/Cassandra Landry | Photo Mel Calabro

The major cities are a little, uh, crowded.

Want to open a fine dining spot in New York? A homey ingredient-driven spot in San Francisco? An Italian place in Chicago utilizing Grandma’s recipes, only like, elevated and stuff? Good luck. If you can find a space, you’ll need to stand out; even if your food stands out, you’ll have to aggressively market yourself to keep above the churn. Once you’ve survived that, your biggest challenge is (and will pretty much always be) staffing.

This is all when home starts looking more and more appealing. Saner.

No matter where you're from, the version of your hometown that lives in your mind is probably full of people who don’t “get” real cuisine. They get Olive Garden and Outback Steakhouse and Macaroni Grill, and they never understood why you left for the city, anyway.  In reality, of course, it’s the smaller markets across the country that are better than ever, cranking carefree plates and nurturing the kind of immediate impact that’s almost impossible in the established cities. For every worry about whether or not your new audience will order that obscure wine or dine out on nights other than Friday or Saturday, there are undeniable advantages: Rents are lower. Labor is more readily available. Your life may actually achieve some holy grail sense of balance.

And on the surface, where a sleepier scene would seem to lead to a chef losing their creative edge, the opposite often proves true—when you don’t have to play it safe in order to please the masses, to get butts in seats, to pay astronomical rents, it opens up the door to creative risks.

It didn’t take Richmond, Virginia native Brittanny Anderson long to realize New York’s stifling costs of operation were going to make her dream restaurant virtually impossible. Rather than suffer her delusions, she took her newly sharpened skill-set and set up shop back in Richmond. Now she’s got three “rustic and sexy” outposts: the German-inspired Metzger Bar & Butchery, as well as Brenner Pass and Chairlift—her odes to a more alpine European ethos. She and her team stick to the classics and preach the gospel of simplicity. They try to be flexible and have a good time. It’s extremely chill, just like Anderson.

“Richmond is kind of a DIY town. We have a lot of artists, and great outdoor space,” she says. “You can find really interesting old properties, fix them up, and make something happen. It's a city about creating things—a cool, kind of irreverent place.”

Anderson is the latest host to join the ChefsFeed Indie Week ranks, bringing six of the city’s stand-out talents together with 18 visiting chefs from across the country for an epic throw-down weekend of culinary greatness. To celebrate properly, we’ve also officially launched the ChefsFeed app in Richmond, with 30-plus experts across over 50 local spots to guide you in your dining adventures. 

 

Anderson hosts 24 insanely talented and dynamic chefs at ChefsFeed Indie Week—a national dinner series fueled by the energy and style of standout food cities coast to coast—in Richmond, VA, Aug 23, 2018 - Aug 26, 2018. Are you in VA? Get tickets! It will be rad!
For tickets and event info, visit chefsfeedindieweek.com.