West Virginia’s Best “Wild” Chefs

Wild Wonderful West Virginia

Anne Hart is owner and executive chef of Provence Market Cafe, located in Bridgeport. Anne draws from the ingredients and local flavors of Provence and the Mediterranean. She works closely with local growers and farmers to cultivate ingredients for Provence Market’s menu, giving her international dishes an Appalachian spin.

West Virginia is known for being “Wild and Wonderful.”  How do you incorporate this idea into your menu?
Foraging and harvesting locally has been a culinary trend worldwide for many years, but in West Virginia this is a way of life. At Provence Market, we have always incorporated West Virginia’s indigenous ingredients into our menu whenever possible. Ramps, morel mushrooms, and fiddlehead ferns in spring are the most notable ingredients. My daddy always dug them for me, and now that he is in North Carolina, he calls me inquiring, “They in yet?” Secret ramp spots, the elusive morel mushroom garden, and moonshine origins are all mysteries, but no self-respecting West Virginian would be caught without a batch of each in his freezer.  

The menu at Provence Market features a number of dishes with international flavor. How have you been able to put a West Virginia spin on these international dishes?
My favorite summer dishes are taken straight from my farmers’ market basket I receive each week. Last week I did blistered blackberries, cilantro roasted cherry tomatoes, sautéed baby kale, and wilted leeks over grilled salmon. The plate was beautiful, amazingly fresh, and tasted like summer.

A favorite recurring special is my trout with brown butter, lemon, and capers prepared using classic French preparation. My ramp bisque is anticipated each spring. I turn my morels into an über Steak Diane. Vichyssoise is on the menu this week as more leeks and fresh dug potatoes are here. I can confit just about anything, and cassoulets can take on all kinds of playful ingredients. Miniature coq au vin using West Virginia quail is popular in the fall, as well as my Dijon pork stew and boeuf bourguignon. All use local pork and beef. It’s all about mixing local ingredients with an international cooking style.



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