022 – Kendra Bailey Morris, Virginia Distillery Company


Kendra Bailey Morris (left) and Tricia Zawhorodny (right) of the Virginia Distillery Company

Kendra Bailey Morris (left) and Tricia Zawhorodny (right) of the Virginia Distillery Company

All month long I’ve brought you stories and interviews with some of the founders of the Appalachian Food Summit. I wanted to end October’s exploration with the woman whose question started it all.

Not long ago Kendra Bailey Morris, food writer and PR Manager for the Virginia Distillery Company, asked a question about Appalachian cuisine on Facebook. What followed was a discussion with commentary exceeding 200 posts. Someone suggested a group, and after a while, another person suggested a gathering. Thus, The Appalachian Food Summit was born.

This is the last in a four-part series on the summit, a gathering of folks committed to preserving Appalachia’s unique cuisine and heritage, while at the same time bringing the region forward into one of economic vibrancy and cultural celebration. It’s a mission of love and revival for an important part of our country needing some attention. While at the same time making sure Appalachia doesn’t descend into stereotype and the food remains pure and unadulterated, not becoming a fancypants parody of itself. It’s a gathering of inclusion, not exclusion, and prices for attendance are kept low so it’s accessible and affordable for everyone. The Southern Foodways Alliance must agree with me because over the weekend Lora Smith was presented the 2015 John Egerton Prize on behalf of the Appalachian Food Summit. Insert thunderous applause here.

This was a unique interview done in two parts because sometimes life throws you a curveball.  In the first part recorded shortly before the summit in Abingdon, Kendra had just come from her grandmother’s funeral. Granny lived to be 100, and it was her love of food that started Kendra on her career path. We talk about her dressing in muffin tins with black walnuts from her tree. How the muffin tins make it crispy so guys working in coal mines and farm fields could take it with them. What is the right way to make West Virginia pepperoni rolls and what is grit bread? We discuss Kendra’s traditional path to food writing and talk about how that is all but gone with the advent of social media.

We’re also joined by Tricia Zawhorodny of the Virginia Distillery Company, for a lively discussion (and sampling) of their Highland-style single malt whisky. Made from 100% barley at the facility by a Scottish master distiller, the caramel-colored nectar is soft and delicious, redolent of honey and heather. Virginia Distillery Company opens mid-November on 100 acres in Lovingston, and will not only include a tasting room, but a huge indoor-outdoor fireplace, a museum, and an interactive tour. Tricia hails from Waynesboro, Virginia with an extensive background in food, including front of house, back of house, bartending, and a stint working for Sysco which brought her to the present position at VDC.

In the second portion of the interview recorded at Wintergreen, Kendra and I talk about the upcoming VDC grand opening. We also reflect on the mission and future of the Appalachian Food Summit now that it’s winning awards. How can we make sure Appalachian cuisine stays true to itself and not become, ugh, TRENDY? What does the threat of a pipeline mean for Nelson county and how in the hell can we stop it? What classic Asian dish can be made in a crock pot? Finally, what volatile question on Facebook began the Appalachian Food Summit? You’ll just have to listen to find out.

SHOW NOTES – Links to items discussed within the episode:

This episode is sponsored by In A Flash Laser Engraving.


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