Ian Boden, The Shack
The first time I met Ian Boden, I thought he was quiet. Really, I don’t know what I was thinking, but it was probably because I met him minutes before an event where he was going to serve close to a hundred people in an hour. He was focused, and it’s that kind of focus that has garnered him two, two, James Beard nominations, all from a little spot called The Shack in Staunton, Virginia. That’s a 26-seat place in a town in the middle of the Shenandoah Valley, so you know it must be good. Especially since you can’t see a menu online, especially since you probably have no idea where Staunton is, and especially since you’re more than likely not sure how rye berries are even supposed to taste or that lettuce could even be a soup. Relax, Ian knows what he’s doing. Although he wasn’t born to it, he’s channeling Appalachian heritage through the plate, filtered through fine dining experience and his Jewish heritage. If that still doesn’t make sense, once again, just imagine relaxing and having a good meal that surprises and satisfies. Ian has been cooking since he was 13, and although he has many opinions on the theory of cooking and how to approach it, he never forgets his focus to bring people together over a meal. We’re all welcome at his table.