Turns out Charleston Restaurant Week is a homecoming of sorts for chef Carter Raab, who has temporarily returned to his hometown to help prepare the impressive-sounding menu Kanawha City’s B&D Gastropub is offering during this week’s culinary celebration.
Now 34, Carter was born and raised in Charleston and began his culinary career here as part of the original staff at Lola’s in South Hills before leaving for Portland, Oregon, where he was educated as a Cordon Bleu chef.
So it’s no wonder he feels right at home cooking B&D’s lofty menu this week, which includes such gourmet options as a roasted red pepper and smoked gouda soup, ahi tuna with wasabi creme fraiche on mixed greens with ginger dressing, West Virginia beer-braised short ribs with flash-fried Brussels sprouts and whipped sweet potatoes, coq au vin with aromatics, apple crisp with whipped cream and cinnamon drizzle, and chocolate trifle topped with candied nuts.
According to proud older brother Taylor Raab of Charleston — who is the one who sent along this neat story idea — Carter stayed in Portland for a year, then traveled to Naples, Florida, where he worked at a bistro that served gourmet lunch and dinner, plus a monthly 12-course (12!) tasting dinner that Carter would create himself.
He then ran a commercial kitchen at a local university, managing more than 30 employees before following his fiance to the other Charleston, in South Carolina, to run a sports bar.
They eventually settled in Staunton, Virginia — a great little food town, says me — where after working as chef of Aioli Grill he opened a food truck specializing in farm-to-table Appalachian fare that won grand prize at the Virginia State Food Truck Battle two years in a row. While running that truck, he also opened Nobos Restaurant, which he recently sold (along with the truck) after accepting a position as chef at Zynodoa Restaurant in Staunton.
Since he hasn’t started that job yet, he was able to accept an invite to come home and help out during Charleston Restaurant Week.
“My friend, Rick Paugh II, has been coming to Staunton to help with my businesses and was recently given the opportunity to head up Restaurant Week at B&D,” Carter told me. “He gave me a call asking if I’d like to help out.”
Being from Charleston and starting his culinary career here made him jump at the opportunity. He also enjoyed working with Rick to dream up this week’s menu.
“We wanted to have some fun and offer a little nicer options than your traditional bar fare,” he said. “The West Virginia beer-braised ribs have come out great, and the colors of the dish are beautiful together.”
But he says he’s equally excited about the coq au vin because of his background in classic French cuisine.
“It’s going to be fun making that again, but the best part is just being back in my hometown, doing what I love to do for my friends and for the community I grew up in. I’m really thankful to the Gastropub for this amazing opportunity.”
I was very curious to sample B&D’s Restaurant Week menu when it was announced, and even more so now after hearing Carter’s story.
Reservations for all Charleston Restaurant Week participants are filling up quickly — or already gone by this point — but you can check on B&D’s availability by calling 681-205-2975.
Speaking of coq au vin ...A popular culinary gala that brings a taste of some of the state’s best restaurants to Charleston each year has a real heavy-hitter on tap for this year’s event on Feb. 22.
After celebrating the Italian flavors of Rocco’s, Muriale’s, Café Cimino and Stella’s in the past, this year’s Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha & Putnam “Taste of” dinner is getting all French on us.
I, for one, could not be more excited.
The group’s largest fundraiser of the year will offer “A Taste of The French Goat” during next month’s gala at the Clay Center.
Food prepared by that highly regarded Lewisburg restaurant will feature assorted charcuterie and artisan cheeses, bleu cheese salad, quinoa and tomato salad and the classic French dishes Boeuf Bourguignon (beef burgundy) and coq au vin (chicken in wine).
Dessert options will include cherries jubilee chocolate ganache and a lemon marshmallow tart — and wine, spirits and a signature cocktail will be part of the festivities.
Tickets are $100 each or two for $175, and the evening also will include live music, a silent auction and cash bar. Proceeds from the event and auction help fund Habitat’s mission of building affordable housing throughout Kanawha and Putnam counties. The group has built more than 170 homes since 1988.
To become a sponsor, donate an auction item or learn more about attending the event, contact William Andreas at 304-720-0141 or visit www.ATasteoftheFrenchGoat.com.