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Charlottesville’s Signature Dish Revealed!

by Tom Tom Staff

Charlottesville is home to visionary thinkers, farmers, artisans, and chefs who have put the city on the map as a local-food destination. We couldn’t be prouder to bring you our food programming at Tom Tom.

The Road to a Signature


Iconic cities have iconic dishes. Now, Charlottesville has one too.

Last autumn, several chefs, food historians, and culinary writers held meetings to discuss how they could pinpoint and find a dish that encompassed the culture, character, and cuisine of the Charlottesville. Through a series of campaigns, Tom Tom and the legendary food folk researched, reached out, and welcomed ideas from the public on what should be considered Charlottesville’ Signature Dish.

Some were common staples we see on menus all over town, others were mainstream options we go to for breakfast, and others yet were a surprise and challenged the experts to consider all options.

After meetings of deliberations and poring over historical documents, speaking with farmers and growers and local markets, the Master Tasters have finally settled on the perfect dish to exemplify the community of Charlottesville.

Cville Signature Dish

Meet the Master Tasters


Simon Davidson is a culinary writer for The Charlottesville 29, Leni Sorensen is a local food historian, Craig Hartman is a chef and Pitmaster at The BBQ Exchange, and Ira Wallace is the owner of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. All have contributed to the local food culture in immeasurable senses. We are proud to have gone on this journey together with them and other experts who have shared their ideas and thoughts on what should be regarded as the Charlottesville Signature Dish.

Simon Davidson


Leni Sorensen


Craig Hartman


Ira Wallace


“From the time that our nation’s first epicurean feasted at Monticello, the Charlottesville area has been known for its food. But, among all that our region has to offer, we wanted to know what dish distinguishes us most?” – Simon Davidson, The Charlottesville 29

The Contending Dishes


Our Master Tasters have weighed in with their thoughts, considering the historic and modern implications and versions we see of each dish suggested. Together, they have deliberated over the entries to find the perfect fit.

Others have another idea in mind for a Signature dish. “The beauty of the ham biscuit is there are so many different ways to make it unique that each restaurant in town could make one and no two would be the same, and I would bet all be delicious,” says Harrison Keevil, Owner of Keevil & Keevil.

Mitchell Beerens, Co-owner of Lampo, shared: “In my experience, there is one food that people in Charlottesville have an unshakable opinion of. They know who makes the best fried chicken and no other fried chicken should even be considered. In my opinion, it doesn’t get much better than my swinging chair on my front porch, a crispy thigh from my neighborhood spot, and a bottle of Thibaut-Janisson Sparkling Virginia Wine.”

All Food Events

Charlottesville’s Signature


Photo by Jason Surma


We are pleased to announce that the ham biscuit has been declared Charlottesville’s Signature Dish!

Join the Celebration


It’s your turn! We are inviting the community to try interpretations of the Signature Dish at the  Community Potluck! Join your friends, family, and neighbors at this community-favorite event that helps us launch Tom Tom and celebration the onset of Spring.

The Cville Signature Dish will also be featured on the menu of participating restaurants at during Farm-to-Table Restaurant Week, April 9-15! You’ll be able to try different versions of the ham biscuit by Charlottesville’s Top Chefs!

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