Northern Virginia’s food scene is highly underrated. Travelers can find hidden gems throughout the region from Alexandria to Fredericksburg. Foode, pronounced Foodie, keeps guests coming back for more with delicious, fresh dishes that feel like home.

Set in Historic Downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia, Foode serves farm-to-table American meals in the beautifully preserved Historic National Bank Building. Founding Partner and Executive Chef Joy Crump appeared on Season 12 of Bravo’s Top Chef; however, her culinary experience is more than 15 years in the making. Crump found her calling in her mid-30s, after working with film and television writers in Los Angeles.

Now, Crump, alongside her business partner, Beth Black, is giving Northern Virginia residents and visitors to the area elevated comfort food. Travel Noire spoke with Crump about the origins of her love of food, why Fredericksburg and what to expect next.

Travel Noire: Where did your love of food begin? 

Joy Crump: If you ask any chef, they’re gonna tell you a story about hanging on to their mom’s apron strings, going fishing with their dad or cooking with their grandparents. It’s typically a familial tie, and that’s the same way it was with me.

My parents were married for 20 years before they got divorced and had five kids at that time. My sisters and I lived with lived with my mom and my brothers lived with my dad. Because they were together for so long, they stayed friends during that process, in unity to raise us and to keep us as close as possible. 

We would get together as much as we could and my parents would always join the celebration. For birthdays, Christmas and holidays, we would always be together. [Bringing] so many people together was expensive, so when we got together, we stayed in and cooked. 

It quickly became synonymous with appreciating [that] what was going on right now was special. You’re only going to be together for five days, so we’re going to cook dinner and breakfast. We’re all going to laugh and get together and have a good time. That became what family was about for me, these little pockets of celebration in short periods of time that had so much value and were always surrounded by food. It’s a desire to recreate those lightning in a bottle [moments] again and have those feelings that drew me to food initially. 

TN: How did you and your founding partner decide on Fredericksburg, Virginia, as the right location for Foode? 

JC: I have Atlanta ties and Los Angeles ties. Beth, my business partner, has Virginia ties. When we decided to open a restaurant, it was between those three places: Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Virginia. 

We [decided] not to jump in with the sharks. Atlanta’s culinary scene is bananas. Los Angeles is on a different level in terms of the probability that you’ll have success. We decided to come to Virginia where we’d have family support. The only place in Virginia that she wanted to go was Fredericksburg. It’s the perfect size town. [It was] big enough that there’s something here for all of us, but small enough that it’s intimate. 

At the time, there weren’t a lot of places like us, so we were able to quickly stand out. Fredericksburg told us exactly what it wanted in a dining experience. We like to stay small enough, so that if somebody says we want to eat like this or celebrate like this, we can respond and stay relevant. That’s really what we do [and] why our menu changes. 

TN: Is there anything exciting planned in terms of new dishes for the fall/winter season?

JC: To refer back to COVID, we were on this cool trajectory when COVID hit, and it derailed everyone globally. It took away so many options and we were instantly reminded about the importance of the connection between us and the people.

We renewed our commitment to hyper-local and that’s not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes we get things, and sometimes we don’t. What I’m most excited about now [is] we’re on a refreshed rhythm. We did it a lot when we were smaller, and then we went from 30 seats to 100. We had to let some of that go because it wasn’t cost-effective or consistent enough for us.

Now we’re back, and what you can look forward to as we go through the next season is seeing things that are in-season. Fresh produce by people that you can recognize because the names are the same names you see at the farmers market every weekend. It’s our fishmongers, dairy suppliers, [and] produce people. Hyper-local is what’s got me excited right now.

This article has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.