2024 Chefs

Nicole Jones

Virginia’s Darling

Saturday, May 11, 2024 at the Grand Tasting

“As grown-ups tend to do, Nicole realized something about her childhood — the best parts were enjoying small town communities, cooking with her great-grandmother and sharing meals with family and friends. It only makes sense that she ditched a successful nonprofit career at the Atlanta NPR affiliate, moved to Virginia, and dedicated her life to food. Working in the marketing department at Whole Foods during the day and attending classes at L’Academie de Cuisine at night, she then worked in some of DC’s most and least prestigious kitchens.

In 2015 she had no business opening Stomping Ground, a celebrated biscuit joint that helped her stumble into entrepreneurship. She opened Bagel Uprising in 2018, Mae’s Market and Cafe in 2021 and the critic’s favorite, Virginia’s Darling, in 2022. She has always aimed to build safe and welcoming communities around yummy, handmade food. She has shamelessly hired better, smarter cooks to fill her kitchen and your bellies. Her family recipes often appeared on the restaurant’s menus without advertisement. Her restaurants have made myriad best of lists in DC publications, including Top 50 Restaurants in the DMV in 2024. Her greatest achievement has been motherhood, as her daughter Rose has made everything else seem easy. “