The availability of fresh local foods is a huge benefit to living in the Greenbrier Valley. For Lewisburg entrepreneur Erica Bell, it is one of the keys to her success in culinary arts. Two months ago, Erica threw caution to the wind and left her 8 to 5 job to pursue a career bringing her passions to others. Among these passions are fitness coaching, health coaching, and offering people the unique experience of eating a freshly prepared meal featuring locally sourced foods right in Erica’s own home. She offers her tastings to up to 8 people, so you can come alone or bring a friend.
Erica began the newest aspect of her career, food tastings in her home, in part by accident (or fate, whichever you prefer.) She began cooking for friends at home and occasionally hosting their celebrations. Her peers often suggested to her that she bring her culinary creations to the public and start her own restaurant. This was not the path Erica envisioned for herself though. She prefers to offer her meals to small and intimate groups.
A lover of travel, Erica finds new foods everywhere she goes to bring back to her clientele. Her offerings vary widely and usually center around a particular theme. A native of Argentina, her first tasting featured foods native to her home country. The next tasting will be centered around Christmas. After that, some of her ideas include Lebanese and Thai foods. Erica’s Kitchen offers an opportunity to experience a meal completely different from the same old-same old. She makes sure that her guests engage all of their senses during one of her tastings.
Each tasting at Erica’s Kitchen features a local protein source, including beef or pork from Swift Level Farms, chicken from Rainbow Farms, lamb from Greenbrier Cotswold, and pork from Vernal Vibe Rise. Local and seasonal fruits and vegetables are also a key ingredient to her cooking. All of her desserts are made with the natural sweetness of fruits, vegetables, or molasses, with no added sugar necessary. Everything is made from scratch, using the methods she learned at home in Argentina. She is a huge advocate of clean eating, and her tastings give participants the opportunity to see just how delectable food prepared with healthfulness in mind can be.
Anyone familiar with traditional Spanish dining knows the meaning of the word “tapas.” For those, like myself, who are not, tapas are a tradition in Spanish culture in which all of the participants at a meal have a variety of items in small portions. This is the concept Erica styles her tastings after. Participants can take part in one, two, or three tastings, and the three tastings would essentially constitute an entire meal. Erica states that meals with her are about “savoring perfect bites.”
Tastings at Erica’s Kitchen are held every other Friday at this time. In addition to her tastings, Erica also offers one-on-one cooking classes, private dining in her home for very small groups, and event catering for groups of 50 or less. I encourage you to check out her website at ericabell.com and learn about all of the things Erica does and why she does them. I can tell you I plan to be attending a tasting in the very near future!
– Heather Hanna. Hashtag #85. January, 2017.
HASHTAGWV ART & ENTERTAINMENT Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Christina Entenmann-Edwards has been a WV resident since September 2008. She was born and raised in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and is no stranger to hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit. In 2006, she graduated from Quinnipiac University (Hamden, Connecticut), Cum Laude, with a B.A. in History. In 2010, she graduated with an M.B.A. from Liberty University (Lynchburg, Virginia). In February 2012, Christina launched HashtagWV as the area’s first full-color, free arts and entertainment tabloid + online platform. Christina completed the Leadership West Virginia class of 2021, which is an innovative program that grows, engages, and mobilizes leaders to ignite a life passion to move West Virginia forward.