American Culinary Federation Halloween Chef’s Table Featuring Chef John Schopp

We are full of joy and gratitude sharing this spectacular meal with our friends.  Roanoke has another star in the city in the Al Pollard Culinary Institute, and all the beautiful and talented humans that make it shine bright. Many thanks to Chef Schopp, Chef Ziegler, Chef Moran and all the culinary students who worked diligently to make this meal a reality. 

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Chef John Schopp, Chef Greg Moran and Chef Jim Ziesler members of the American Culinary Federation

My husband, Mike, and I won the live auction for a chef’s table featuring Chef John Schopp at the annual Derby Day Gala at Rockledge held every May in Roanoke. With our busy schedules we finally found a window of opportunity to enjoy a fun evening at home with some of our friends and the finest food that the Roanoke Valley has to offer.

The American Culinary Federation of Southwest Virginia delights guests with two food and beverage driven fundraising events each year. The annual Al Pollard Memorial Golf Tournament and chefs’ cooking competition held every September at Roanoke Country Club, and the Derby DayGala hosted by Dr(s) Nancy and Kevin Dye at their beautiful home, Rockledge, on Mill Mountain. Both events benefit students of the Al Pollard Culinary Institute with scholarships, as well as funds to compete in culinary competitions on the national level within the ACF.

When Chef Schopp suggested Halloween as a possible date, we jumped at the opportunity. In 2016, Chef Schopp competed on the Food Network’s Halloween Baking Championship. Having gently stalked this amazing chef for decades, both online and IRL, we’re well aware of his talents.  l try to attend any event featuring his catering business, Center Stage Catering. I have had the pleasure of dining at his chef’s table on more than one occasion, so knowing his creativity, I did not want to give him any limitations on number of courses, types of food, or themes.

What arrived at my home Tuesday at 4:30pm, October 31, 2017 was a carefully invented, meticulously planned and implemented symphony of culinary art with Chef Schopp as the lead conductor.  Chef Schopp designed entirely new dishes for my dinner! Working from a general theme of Fall, the following dishes knocked our socks off.

Autumn Musings; 14 brand new dishes made by Chef John C. Schopp, CFC,CEPC, CCA
Chef Schopp front and center. His two wingmen for this ACF fundraiser, Chef James Zeisler, Sr. CEC, CCA, CDM,CFPP.  Chef Z is a Graduate of the University of Florida and Johnson & Wales. He is the Department Chairman at the Al Pollard Culinary Institute.  Chef Greg Moran, also an instructor at the Al Pollard Culinary Institute

Amuse Bouche

Festive friends enjoy Turkish spiced acorn squash with pepita
New England charcuterie plates are placed in strategic gathering areas in my home for our guests to enjoy as they like. Housemade sausage with pickled red onions, housemade mustard, gherkins and spiced pecans


Hammer and Forge La Cabaza de Fuego. Figs and cheese with a unique apple butter puree


Chef Greg Moran passes an amazing seared saffron scallop, glazed with a vanilla white raisin lacquer. Cocktail portion of evening in full swing
Chef John Schopp lives in Franklin County, the moonshine capital of the world. He treated us to a flight of Vanilla Pineapple Brandy. I was careful to ask him about his infusing technique, and not sourcing. It’s on a need to know basis


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This is what handmade, fresh pappardelle pasta looks like before he dresses it…paper thin and tender to the bite. It is a labor of love to make pasta like this
Hazelnut pappardelle with buttered bread crumbs, cooked egg yolk, manchego, lemon, parsley,  and butter.  For the record, I thought my dinner guest, Yvette, was going to explode in her seat! Anyone who makes their own pasta knows how much time and attention is needed to pull off perfect pasta. Served family style with the salad, I was able to send her home with some leftovers

From the Field

baby lettuces, shaved radish with grapefruit white balsamic and robust olive oil from Chile (Olivito on 419) and micro plained manchego.


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This is definitely the most creative way I have ever eaten pork! Chef Schopp combined his own Housemade winter spice-cured bacon AND sorghum braised pork belly served on buttered stoneground grits, apple garlic soubise, and parsley and ham ‘Snail Foam.’ My husband lost his mind over this one! Just when you think it can’t get any better, Chef Schopp brings us a tasting of spiced micro beer to accompany it
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Winter spice cured bacon…this could have stood on its own. Absolutely delicious.


Coriander-crusted ahi tuna served rare with butternut squash silk. I kind of remember going into the kitchen to open some white wine for this course 🙂

Meat & Potato

Ras-el-hanout ribeye. This has a special rub made by Chef Ted Polfelt, also an ACF member and instructor at the school. It made my house smell incredible. I watched Chef Morgan sear this in duck fat when they first arrived. It roasted in my oven creating the most manly potpourri imaginable. Served with potatoes anna, and garlic aioli
Passing through my kitchen earlier, the three chefs spoke in shorthand, cut jokes, and moved in unison. They were so calm and well organized. I would hear a little timer go off every now and again. It was a treat to see this level of professionalism working together. I can tell they are like brothers, and enjoyed the camaraderie of this performance.  Just the number of sauces and garnishes would have overwhelmed most cooks. They made everything look effortless and had a blast working together
Ras-el-hanout ribeye with duck fat, potatoes anna, garlic aioli…yeah, that is bearnaise… My husband told me he watched Chef Schopp work on that sauce for about a half an hour. He would stir it continuously with a whisk and check the consistency until it was perfect. Crusted bread, also made by the culinary students to accompany this course.

Pre-dessert Morphing

Wine spiced apple encased in foie caramel cream with fried winter herb salad and toast
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I paired this goose liver caramel spiced apple with a 40 year old Noval Tawny Port, a special gift from our friend Dr. Walid Azzo of Bluefield, WV.   Decadent!!!

But wait, there is more!!!

Sweet Amuse

Snickerdoodle palmier
Macadamia buttermilk ice cream with macadamia nuts, crystal ginger, and pineapple
Roasted cashew tart with with cornmeal short dough


Anise sea salt caramel suckers with fresh raspberries and dehydrated spiced apples




Rick James was our playlist inspired by my friend David’s costume. The kitchen loves funk!

We are full of joy and gratitude sharing this spectacular meal with our friends.  Roanoke has another star in the city in the Al Pollard Culinary Institute, and all the beautiful and talented humans that make it shine bright. Many thanks to Chef Schopp, Chef Ziegler, Chef Moran and all the culinary students who worked diligently to make this meal a reality.

If you would like to contribute the the scholarship fund, please contact the American Culinary Federation, Southwest Virginia Chapter. Also, keep an eye out for opportunities to bid on chef’s tables at local events, but be prepared that we will be there bidding, again!




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