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Big Pine Provisions Promotes Healthier Home-Grown Dining

Katherine Chewning in the Big Pine Provisions kitchen.

by Melvin E. Matthews, Jr.

As a child in Richmond, Katherine Chewning, manager of the Big Pine Provisions Restaurant at 501 Campbell Avenue in downtown Roanoke (across from Council of Community Services), helped in the family garden and in the kitchen.  Those skills would come in handy.

Chewning’s professional background was in hospitality and fine dining.  Although she passed on the opportunity to purchase the Big Pine Trout Farm in the Roanoke area, her brother, an avid fisherman, jumped at the chance, and soon became involved in the local food movement at the Catawba, West End and Grandin markets.  Both became involved with the business, however.

The Grandin location became the  busiest. Soon Katherine Chewning and her brother wanted a place to store the fish products they sold in Roanoke.  Luck now intervened in their behalf:  Chewning’s brother discovered a commercial kitchen on Campbell Avenue with a walk-in that enabled them to store the fish closer to Roanoke. The trout farm is located in nearby New Castle. “So the fish is here,” she explains.  “It’s already set up as a dining facility and there you have it.”

The name Big Pine Provisions was retained as the restaurant’s moniker because Roanoke already had a business called Provisions and because, Chewning says, “the parent company is Big Pine Trout.  So we stuck with the Big Pine Provisions [name]”

Among the items on Big Pine Provisions menu are Pickled Trout, Organic Baby Spinach Salad, Locally Farmed Pulled Lamb BBQ, and Organic Baby Greens Medley and Walker Mountain Goat Cheese—selections that reflect the restaurant’s involvement with the aforementioned local food movement.  The latter, Chewning says, is merely knowing the source of your food:  “People tend to be healthier when they are consuming food that is grown or raised in the environment that they live in.  We try to procure that product here in the restaurant as much as we possibly can.”  The clientele for Big Pine Provisions’ offerings, Chewning feels, is diverse, “simply because a lot of our produce is sourced locally.  We do have a garden out at the trout farm, as well as an entire field of blackberries which we pick each year and make into different products.”

Among those who patronize Big Pine Provisions are people from Virginia Tech, Hollins University, the local art galleries, the Kirk Family YMCA just down the block and vegetarians.  Roanokers, Chewning feels, “are genuinely looking to be educated about new kinds of food. We do a lot of raw food preparation.”

The atmosphere one finds at Big Pine Provisions when dining there is warm and intimate—with 1940s-Frank Sinatra-style music playing in the background.  Chewning likes to think that when a diner enters her restaurant, “you’re stepping back in time. I would compare it more to cabaret-style dining [and] I do have the candlelight that you can dine by.”

Recently Big Pine Provisions was involved in catering but now that the restaurant has just acquired a beer and wine license, Chewning says she prefers serving from the restaurant at its location at 501 Campbell Avenue in Roanoke—but that’s not to say she would not cater an event.

Chewning feels Roanokers themselves will determine the future of Big Pine Provisions.  “We’ve taken things one day at a time.  I’ve been open since November of last year, so it’s been a very slow movement. It’s given me an opportunity to learn more about running a restaurant. I do just want to give a big shout-out and thanks to all the people who do support us.”

Further information about Big Pine Provisions can be found online by searching Big Pine Trout Farm and Big Pine Provisions and by going to the Big Pine Provisions page on Facebook. Call (540) 206-2040.     

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