Chef Joe Sparatta Transforms Heritage Into Heritage at Home

By Kendyl Kearly

By

Kendyl Kearly
European Veal Piccata, Preserved Meyer Lemon Mafaldi, Brown Butter, Capers, Parsley
European Veal Piccata, Preserved Meyer Lemon Mafaldi, Brown Butter, Capers, Parsley

Unlike many restaurants struggling through the coronavirus, Heritage in Richmond, Virginia could not open for outdoor dining this summer. The local government has been trying to help businesses but hasn’t readjusted zoning regulations in the same way that larger cities have. With one restaurant, Southbound, still open and two mortgages to pay, Chef-owner Joe Sparatta quickly had to pivot.

In addition to opening a market and leaning on consulting work, he’s been able to do private, in-home dinners, branded as Heritage at Home. “It’s just me and my wife and my truck,” says Sparatta. He notes that creating elaborate dinners without a team is definitely a challenge, but his minimum price point for these experiences is $750.

The food is similar to that of his restaurants, but Sparatta can cook at a higher price point for these VIP clients. He recently developed a European Veal Piccata with Preserved Meyer Lemon Mafaldi, Brown Butter, Capers, and Parsley, which ran as a promotion on his menu at Southbound. “After seeing how much we sold, I want to serve veal again on the regular,” he says. “That was eye-opening to see how well veal actually did.”

In conceptualizing the dish, he wanted to do a classic that people could easily recognize but with his own modern preparation. Although the price was higher than most of the menu, he says, “People already know us for doing fresh pasta in-house, so veal piccata was not a hard sell.”

Still, the chef says he was shocked with how well the dish did because there’s often a perception that veal isn’t sustainable or safe. For the piccata, he used Trusted Veal from Europe, which adheres to strict European Union regulations, as well as being fairly traded and fully traceable for safety.

“Worrying about animals is obviously a major responsibility, but if it’s being raised and cared for properly, it’s a whole different story,” Sparatta says. “After researching where the veal is coming from, it seemed like it's actually a good product to be working with that we can stand behind.”

The luxuriousness of the dish would make it a fit for Heritage at Home. In addition to providing a financial buoy, private dining has allowed Sparatta to feel more connected to cooking again.

“[As a chef], you try to make an all-encompassing experience with food, drinks, service, interaction,” he says. “With COVID and to-go, that was taken away. That took out some of the joy for me.”

He adds that his clients are very appreciative to have a true dining experience again. Although Heritage and Southbound are fighting for their lives with the rest of the industry, Sparatta has been able to share his food in the way it was meant to be enjoyed. 

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