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Chef Richard Arbaugh enters Taste America Challenge featuring local produce

By Judy Hamilton

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Chef and owner Richard Arbaugh of the South Hills Market and Café is participating in the James Beard Foundation's Taste America Local Dish Challenge, which explores America's culinary diversity.

Winning the challenge could result in a $10,000 donation to Manna Meal. And winning depends on how many online votes the dish he created receives by Oct. 31. 

Arbaugh has chosen to feature Honey Lacquered Chicken with Hand Foraged Chantrelle Purée and Fricassee of Kanawha County Vegetables. He described the vegetables as "Kanawha County green beans, baby patty pan squash, squash blossoms, baby carrots, and chanterelle mushrooms."

"I have composed a dish to showcase the best of our local food scene in Charleston," Arbaugh said.

In addition to voting for his dish, Charleston diners may order it from the menu at the Bridge Road restaurant.

South Hills Market and Café will donate $1 from each dish sold to the James Beard Foundation's Taste America Education Drive, which supports educational programs on topics concerning the country's food system. 

"Even if we don't win, the foundation will match up to $500 to the educational drive. The guests are participating as much as we are and we get the enjoyment of cooking for them," the chef said.

"We are lucky to get a lot of local products, and my wife's family has a large garden. When we saw the JBF Challenge, we decided to use vegetables that we have grown right here in Kanawha County. It's great to be able to showcase that. Eat local. Eat fresh. Hopefully, it motivates people to start their own garden. It feels great," Arbaugh said.

Regarding the chanterelle mushrooms, the chef said, "We have local foragers, two particular sources, here in Charleston. The moist summer has helped out a lot with the mushroom production."

South Hills Market and Café opened in November 2007.

"We've been able to balance it out. It's fun. Figuring out staff needs, family needs. We've been fortunate," Arbaugh said, referring to his team, which includes his wife and co-owner of the business, Anne Arbaugh.

"You can't beat local support and I think West Virginia is abundant in people wanting to support each other. We've had six years of local support. It's good for the West Virginia restaurants and any West Virginia business," Arbaugh said.

"If we are lucky enough to win, it's a great way for us to give back to the community again with the donation to Manna Meal," the chef said.

They became members of the non-profit organization, the James Beard Foundation, last year. "We thought the Taste America Local Dish Challenge was great because it encourages cooking education and explores culinary diversity," Arbaugh said.

South Hills Market and Café is the only restaurant in West Virginia participating in the challenge with 99 other establishments. "We felt it was an honor to be able to represent West Virginia.  It's a great feeling," Arbaugh said.

Diners can support the JBF Taste America Local Dish Challenge by following these steps: Visit the Café between now and Oct. 31; Complete list at; Order the Taste America Local Dish; Take a photo of the dish; Post to Instagram with #JBFTasteamerica and the hashtag of your city (#charlestonWV).

"We plan on continuing doing special things for our customers during the month of November to celebrate our anniversary.  We want to do something nice for our customers. We really enjoy being here and we enjoy the customers," the chef said.

On Sept. 16, South Hills Market and Café started serving lunch and breakfast on Mondays. On Sept. 30, the restaurant will start serving dinner on Mondays.

Hours will be 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Reach Judy E. Hamilton at or 304-348-1230.



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