Virginia Wine Country is famous for its delicate wines, as there are over 300 vineyards in the state of Virginia. The wines are award-winning, delicious, and crafted meticulously with intense care. Within a majority of the award-winning wineries are excellent restaurants. The executive chefs of the Virginia Wine Country restaurants are highly celebrated and have the utmost training, whether it be self-taught or from a prestigious culinary institute. The amazing food and wonderful restaurants are a staple of the Virginia viticulture. 

Chef Antwon Brinson, Image © Sera Petras Photography for Virginia Wine & Country Life

Chef Antwon Brinson

Culinary Concepts

(Charlottesville, VA) 

Chef Antwon Brinson is Charlottesville’s local celebrity chef. In tandem with his feature on Max’s “The Big Brunch”, his commitment to the community spotlights his love for Charlottesville. A Niagara Falls native, Chef Brinson grew up in lackluster conditions. Regardless, he aspired to be a fine dining chef. He attended the Culinary Institute of America in 2002, and then apprenticed at the Greenbrier for three years. At the Greenbrier, he glided up the ranks in the kitchen before departing in 2012. In the following years, he traveled around the country cooking at various resorts.

In 2017, he was called to Virginia to be executive chef at Common House. The next year, he founded Culinary Concepts, a culinary school aimed for aspiring chefs such as he was. Chef Brinson encourages people like him to enroll in his school, to be later outsourced to kitchens across the Charlottesville area. His expertise in the kitchen is no match to his kindness and humility. Chef Brinson is Charlottesville’s celebrity chef because of his heart, and his culinary skills.

Chef Michael Clough

Palladio Restaurant at Barboursville Vineyards

(Barboursville, VA)

Chef Michael Clough loves the creativity of planning the Palladio menu each week. Palladio Restaurant is Barboursville Vineyards’ distinguished restaurant. Established by winemaker Luca Paschina, the restaurant pays homage to his Italian heritage. Executive Chef Michael, who was born and raised in New Hampshire, works diligently to use his culinary skills to uphold the European tradition. Chef Michael is a graduate of the New Hampshire Culinary Institute, and joined the Barboursville team in 2012 as an intern. In 2015, he was promoted to Sous-chef, and further promoted the highest honor of executive chef in 2020.

Chef Michael Clough preparing plates at Barboursville Vineyards Palladio Restaurant.
Barboursville Vineyards, Image © R.L. Johnson for Virginia Wine & Country Life

The heart of Chef Michael’s menu derives from the ingredients he picks. The higher quality ingredients translate to a higher quality menu, and Chef Michael respects that philosophy. His discipline and talent in the kitchen reflect those of the winemakers at Barboursville. Together, Chef Michael and Paschina sustain a delicious menu that honors Palladio’s Italian flare.

Pippin Hill Vineyards Chef Victoria Cosner
Image © by R.L. Johnson for Wine & Country Life

Chef Victoria Cosner

Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

(North Garden, VA)

Chef Victoria Cosner loves Virginia. Her affection for Virginia can be seen in her dishes at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards. Chef Victoria trained at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center. After, she completed a few stints around Charlottesville, including jobs at L’Etoile and RockStalk, until she began at Pippin Hill in 2015 as a prep cook. Soon thereafter, she moved up the ranks in the kitchen until she became Executive Chef. She loves the vineyard and the farm, and enjoys harvesting her own ingredients.


As an ode to Virginia, Chef Victoria incorporates local produce in her dishes. She finds her passions taking her on drives through the mountains, scouting out local farms. Cooking with local ingredients is the perfect way to pay homage to Virginia, and what it provides.

Chef Vincent Derquenne

Bang!, Bizou, Crush Pad Wines

(Charlottesville, VA)

Chef Vincent Derquenne has been a culinary giant in Charlottesville since the late 1980s. Co-owner and head chef of renowned eateries Metropolitain (until 2003,) The Space Downtown, Bizou and Bang! Restaurant, Chef Derquenne most recently opened Crush Pad Wines, a wine, bourbon and champagne bar located on the historic Charlottesville Downtown Mall. Derquenne occasionally partners with Michael Shaps for wine pairing events.

Chef Vincent Derquenne. French chef in Virginia. Charlottesville VA restauranteur. Crush Pad Wines, Bang!, Luce, Metropolitain, Bizou Restaurants and more.
Chef Vincent Derquenne, Michael Shaps Wineworks/Virginia WIne & Tourism Wine Dinner, Image © R.L. Johnson for Virginia Wine & Country Life

Born and raised in France, Derquenne’s move to Charlottesville was a pivotal point for cuisine in the area. Together with his longtime business partner Tim Burgess, the dynamic duo has helped shape the culinary scene and push Central Virginians to expand their palates and experiment with new food, classic dishes and a mix of both.

Chef Tim Moore, Early Mountain Vineyards, Image © R.L. Johnson for Virginia Wine & Country Life

Chef Tim Moore

Early Mountain Vineyards

(Madison, VA)

Chef Tim Moore was an aspiring punk-rock guitarist and skateboarder when he became captivated by the culinary world. With little training, but a fierce enthusiasm to work, Chef Moore was hired by The Inn at Little Washington as an expeditor. Under Chef O’Connell, he transitioned through every position in the kitchen. In 2018, Chef Tim was appointed Sous-Chef. In 2019, he left The Inn and became the executive chef at Early Mountain Vineyards.

At Early Mountain Vineyards, he created the Virginia Table, a rehabilitation of the Early Mountain menu. When Chef Tim arrived, the kitchen was in no state to produce fine dining. With Chef Tim’s determination, he transformed the cafe kitchen into a renowned fine dining kitchen. Aside from these accomplishments, Chef Tim is not finished with his aspirations. He continues to pursue new heights at Early Mountain Vineyards.

Chef Patrick O’Connell

The Inn at Little Washington 

(Washington, VA)

Chef Patrick O’Connell is a self-taught professional in the kitchen. As a Washington D.C. native, Chef O’Connell found himself entranced by a quaint village named Little Washington, roughly 60 miles away from D.C. Here, he opened the Inn at Little Washington in a former garage. The Inn at Little Washington found incredible success. It has two Five Diamond awards, and three Michelin Stars, retained each year. The Inn additionally received the Michelin Green Star for sustainability in 2021.

The cuisine at the Inn at Little Washington is inspired by French culture. However, Chef O’Connell uses local Virginia produce to portray his image. Virginia delicacies, such as ham and herbs, are scattered throughout the menu.

Chef O’Connell earned an honorary doctorate degree in culinary arts from Johnson and Wales University. He is a known public figure, after countless talk show appearances and talks on entertainment networks. Chef O’Connell also had the honor to serve the late Queen Elizabeth in 2007.

Chef Andy Shipman of Veritas Vineyards & Winery, Image © R.L. Johnson for Virginia Wine & Country Life

Chef Andy Shipman

The Farmhouse at Veritas

(Afton, VA)

Chef Andy Shipman is a quiet genius and Executive Chef at the Farmhouse at Veritas Vineyards. His culinary expertise reaches up towards that of Chef O’Connell at the Inn at Little Williamsburg. Chef Andy’s skill is mainly self-taught, as he enjoys reading about techniques and recipes. He meticulously uses time to extract the flavors in his dishes, as taste is a principal component to him. 

Chef Andy began as a dishwasher and busboy at the Sunken Well while attending the University of Mary Washington. While in school, he also worked under Top Chef constant Joy Crump at her restaurant FOODE. In 2010, he joined Veritas as the Sous-Chef. Three years later, he shifted to the Farmhouse at Veritas as Sous-Chef. He then earned the highest distinction of executive chef in 2014. Every two weeks, Chef Andy enjoys changing the menu to highlight seasonal produce.

Chef Leo Velasquez

CrossKeys Vineyards

(Mt. Crawford, VA)

Chef Leo Velasquez is new to Virginia’s viticulture, as he joined CrossKeys Vineyard in 2022 to fulfill the role of executive chef. Chef Velasquez’s interest in different cuisines has taken him across the world, working in restaurants across Southeast Asia. He trained as a chef at Disney World and worked for Hershey Park. Chef Leo enjoys learning about the food and wine history of his new location, and combining cultures from his travels to create a superior culinary experience.

Chef Leo Velazques of CrossKeys Vineyards, Image © R.L. Johnson for Virginia Wine & Country Life

As the executive chef at CrossKeys, his mission is to integrate as much farm-to-table fare into the menu as possible. Chef Leo is part of the “slow food” movement, which is an initiative to use local ingredients with an emphasis on higher quality to reduce the impact on the environment. To assist the movement, he wants to include more local produce and sources, such as Virginia oysters. While his menu rebranding is substantial, he is still offering a short variety of the fan favorites.

If you are interested in Virginia Wine Country Dinners, and other Virginia chefs, you can find more at Virginia Wine Country and Life’s Wineries with Fine Dining. Explore more about Virginia’s culinary scene with Virginia Wine & Country Life’s Food & Drink section. Virginia Wine Country is home to wonderful lovely dinners, award-winning wine, and wonderful pastries. You can check the events calendar for menu tastings or chef’s table events. 

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Virginia Wine & Country celebrates elevated living in Virginia Wine Country. Virginia Wine & Country Life is a semi-annual luxury print magazine with a full digital presence. The Virginia Wine & Country Gold Book is an annual guide to the top award-winning wines, wineries and experiences in Virginia Wine Country. The annual Virginia Wine & Country Wedding Planner is an art book of elegant Virginia weddings. Virginia Wine & Country tells the stories of Virginia wineries, the farm-to-table movement, luxury travel, entertaining, art and the elegant country lifestyle. Ivy Life & Style Media also provides branding, web design and PR services for the wine industry.