The chef at DC’s Pineapple and Pearls moves to the Blue Rock Inn in Virginia. Here’s what he cooks.

Chef Ben Low did not grow up learning to cook. In fact, he didn’t start thinking about it until after he started his undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia.

“I started cooking during my time in college, but I didn’t know anything about it before that,” Lu says. And it was the whole cooking process that really piqued his interest.

“I just started not knowing how to make something and then trying and error realizing I could make it better. Making mistakes and then revising and improving — that’s what really attracted me. When his education was over, I realized if he had discovered a passion, but maybe not quite the way that,” says Lu. expect it.

“When I started cooking, I started doing some research and by the time I graduated [with a degree in history]I realized I was more interested in cooking than anything I had learned in school.”

So he thought, “Now is the time to explore this newfound passion.” This exploration took him on a long journey. Low started in D.C. where he worked as a cook at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steakhouse in Georgetown before venturing to Los Gatos, California, to perform at David Kinch Manresa. On his return to the East Coast, he began working as a chef at the Clifton Inn in Charlottesville and even stayed for two months at Ben Shewry’s Attica in Melbourne.

In 2015, Low took over as Executive Chef at the capital’s two-Michelin-star restaurant Pineapple & Pearls, and was promoted to chef during his five years there. Pineapple and Pearl is currently closed.

These days, you can find Lu at the newly renovated Blue Rock in Shelburne Falls, where he works as a chef overseeing the restaurant at Blue Rock as well as the adjoining tasting room. Blue Rock is located on eighty rolling acres in Rappahannock County and reopened in October.

Lu says many locals have so many fond memories of old Blue Rock, as many of them got married there.

“It was really helpful for them to see it come back to life and the response was really positive,” Lu says.

For the new Blue Rock, Lu says they aimed to provide an experience where everything ties together.

“The property itself is really cool, so the food is meant to be light and easy to eat while looking out over the ponds and grounds,” adds Lu.

Speaking of food, the restaurant at Blue Rock has two menus that cater to a slightly different audience. There is the tasting room, which can be enjoyed during the day or for dinner and serves casual small plates and what Low describes as a “truly great burger.”

It’s more than just ‘Stop and try our wine or have a beer or a cocktail. Lu explains that it’s not something you really need to plan for.

However, the experience in the restaurant is a four-course dinner with a few different options for each dish.

“It’s really meant to be a nice dinner. Just a really nice meal on a really nice estate,” says Low.

Lu described one of the interesting menu items as the snack offered.

“It’s like tea where we steep the broth of a few mushrooms seasoned with shoyu,” Lu explains. “It makes for a really layered and complex flavor. It’s really warm and comforting.”

And the guests responded really well to him.

“The menu has changed all the time,” Lu says. “We make small adjustments daily, whether it’s in how we apply something to how we prepare certain ingredients.”

Lu also runs the Blue Rock wine program.

“When making choices, I have to really think about it, considering the expectations of the guests, what they like and don’t like and how to make food and wine work together,” he says. “It was a really fun process for me.”

Megan Hare is an editor and writer based in the Shenandoah Valley. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Penn State University.

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