For Harrison Keevil, who co-owns Brookville Restaurant with his wife, Jennifer, running a restaurant is as much about local agriculture as it is about food.
The Keevils, who opened Brookville in 2010 after a stint together at the Clifton Inn, produce a menu stuffed with local meat and produce.
Next week, for the third April in a row, the Keevils, along with 15 other restaurants, are partnering with the Tom Tom Founders Festival to highlight locally grown fare with Farm to Table Restaurant Week.
“For us it is an opportunity to bring attention to our farmers,” Keevil said. “The Farm to Table Restaurant Week is nothing new for us — it is what we do every day of the week, every week of the year.”
Farm to Table, which is produced in partnership with Charlottesville Restaurant Week, runs throughout the festival, from this Monday to Sunday, April 17. Each participating restaurant is cooking up a prix-fixe menu for the event.
Over the course of the week, Tom Tom will host a craft cocktail competition, a food business summit and an iron chef competition, but restaurant week is a way to pay homage to the people behind the scenes, said Allison Spain, Tom Tom food programming coordinator.
“This is a great way to celebrate the local restaurants we have in Charlottesville and local chefs and producers,” she said. “I don’t think you can talk about local food without celebrating the people who produce it.”
For Ken and Dani Notari of Nude Fude, the week is a chance to show off their use of local ingredients in a less-formal setting.
Their restaurant, which opened last year on Hydraulic Road, is aimed more at a crowd seeking a quick lunch rather than a full sit-down meal, Ken Notari said.
“The important thing there is that great local produce shouldn’t be the sole province of the wealthy,” he said. “We don’t cheapen the produce at all, we just find creative ways to get it out on the plate.”
Instead of selling an entire organic chicken breast as an entrée, Notari said, Nude Fude works breast meat into a rice pilaf. That allows them to sell local protein without the cost traditionally associated with eating local.
“If you were to sell a full organic chicken breast, you would blow right past our price point pretty much immediately,” he said.
Over the last three years, the “eat local” message has resonated, Spain said.
“The response has been really positive,” she said. “I think people recognize that Tom Tom brings people to town, and this is a great way to be involved.”
For Keevil, the farm-to-table philosophy is an integral part of living in Central Virginia.
“It is ingrained in me to source locally,” he said. “It is paying respect to the farmers, to pay respect to my heritage as a Virginian. I am not trying to be kitschy; it is just what we believe in.”
Farm to Table Restaurant Week begins on Monday. A full list of participating restaurants and menus can be found online at tomtomfest.com.
The Tom Tom Founders Festival kicks off Monday evening at the Paramount Theater and runs through April 17. A full schedule of events is on the festival website.