It started, as great ideas often do, over a good meal. In the fall of 2011, Kendra Murden and Lee Gregory decided to throw a Sunday potluck at their restaurant, The Roosevelt, for their food industry colleagues. Dale Reitzer (Acacia), Tim Bereika (Secco, Urban Tavern) and other local chefs contributed dishes. Wine and beer flowed, and financial donations were collected to support Tricycle Gardens, a local nonprofit.
The fall evening was bustling, the room packed with chefs, spouses and kids sharing food and lively conversation. A long table ran down the center with potluck dishes surrounding a whole suckling pig that Gregory had prepared earlier that day. The children were initially nonplussed by the pig, but quickly got over it when they discovered fellow schoolmates to play with. By the end of the evening, colleagues who had rarely met were connecting over fresh flavors and ideas.
What grew into a series of nine “Shindigs,” as the evenings were called, changed the face of the Richmond restaurant scene, shifting it from competitive to collaborative. That shift is what local chefs credit with fostering the burst of creativity and growth that put Richmond on the national food radar. “Working together is a chance to encourage and grow,” says Lee Gregory. “Richmond is too small a world not to make these efforts.”