Rising Star Chef Benjamin Thompson of The Rock Barn - Biography

Arrington, VA

September 2015

Benjamin Thompson grew up in landlocked Colorado Springs, Colorado. He joined the United State Navy in 2000 to become a ship’s cook aboard the USS HAMPTON, during which time his deployment exposed him to cuisine everywhere from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean. Onboard the Hampton, Thompson learned that food on the submarine was critical to crew morale, and that the act of eating together was integral to fostering fellowship within the community. After five years of service, Thompson married, Reagan Holland, and began working in Charlottesville, Virginia, at Oxo Restaurant. Thompson and Holland eventually left Charlottesville to move to New York, where Thompson attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. Graduating at the top of his class with an award for “Excellence through Leadership,” Thompson was able to secure an externship at Thomas Keller's Per Se. His success led him to a position at The French Laundry in Napa Valley.

In 2009, Thompson and Holland moved from California to Nelson County, Virginia, where they founded The Rock Barn. There, they work with a local farmer co-op to raise hogs specifically for and exclusive to The Rock Barn, and provide their quality fresh, smoked, and prepared meats to local restaurants, at farmers market, at their retail shop, and through their paradigm shifting pork share program—a CSA for pig meat. For this work, Thompson earned a 2014 StarChefs Rising Star Artisan Award.