In 1824, John Dabney was born into slavery in Hanover County, Virginia. As he grew up, Dabney gained regional acclaim for his cooking and bartending skills. He allegedly served one of his famed mint juleps to the Prince of Wales when the royal visited the Commonwealth in 1860, and he opened his own catering business and restaurant after the Civil War. For the third year in a row, Richmond’s Fire, Flour & Fork festival (November 2–5) will pay tribute to his legacy as well as the contemporary culinary lights leading the way in the city’s continuing gastronomic evolution.
On November 2, the Dabney Dinner will honor the pioneering cook with a premiere of a new documentary about his life, followed by plates from chef Michael Hall of Spoonbread Bistro as well as Velma Johnson of Mama J’s. A global barbecue blowout with styles from Korea, Jamaica, and Vietnam is scheduled for Friday, November 3.
On Saturday, visitors can hit the Latin-inspired carnival on the grounds of the Valentine history museum. Or jump on a behind-the-scenes tour of C. F. Sauer, the local spice company, headquartered downtown, that sources ingredients from all over the world. “Richmond has been a global marketplace for hundreds of years,” festival cofounder Maureen Egan says. “We want to show that those connections are still happening today.” For the full list of events, information, and tickets, visit the festival’s website.