Lunch and learn

First Lady Suzanne S. Youngkin hosts Chef Patrick O’Connell for VMHC’s Julia Child exhibit

Bonnie Newman Davis | 3/21/2024, 6 p.m.
Virginia’s First Lady Suzanne S. Youngkin hosted a media preview on March 14 in honor of the Virginia History and ...

Virginia’s First Lady Suzanne S. Youngkin hosted a media preview on March 14 in honor of the Virginia History and Culture Museum’s new exhibit “Julia Child: A Recipe for Life” on view through Sept. 2.

However, rather than the VMHC being the backdrop for the preview, First Lady Youngkin hosted the luncheon preview at the Executive Mansion. The afternoon’s special guest, in addition to her husband, Gov. Glenn Youngkin, was acclaimed celebrity chef Patrick O’Connell of the three-Michelin-starred The Inn at Little Washington.

Chef O’Connell – a self-taught cook who is considered as one of the world’s most celebrated—will be featured alongside his mentor, Ms. Child, in the exhibit.

Julia Child

Julia Child

VHMC describes him as one of the best representations of Julia Child’s profound and lasting impact.”

During the hour-long luncheon, Chef O’Connell noted that people from Asia frequent his restaurant more than any other country outside the U.S. Mrs. Youngkin said that she and the governor have dined at the restaurant on two occasions.

“I know your own story is very special,” Gov. Youngkin told Mr. O’Connell, adding “I grew up with her impact in my own house.”

Gov. Youngkin also predicted that the exhibit will be about celebration, education, provide an experience along with long lines and “clamoring to get there, which is very exciting.”

For lunch, guests were served parsnip soup with lardon and pickled quail egg, black bass with early green colcannon and vermouth cream sauce and lemon chiffon cake. An array of Virginia wines also was served, and guests were gifted a bottle of wine named after Mrs. Youngkin and Little Inn of Washington black and white aprons.

Prior to the luncheon, Mrs. Youngkin led guests on a tour of the mansion, which reopened in 2022 after being closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Explaining that the Capitol of the Commonwealth moved from Williamsburg to Richmond in 1780, Mrs. Youngkin said governors rented small wooden buildings because there was no formal home until 1811 when Gov. James Monroe convinced the General Assembly to provide funds to house governors and their families.

“And so, for a whopping $12,000 approved by the Genral Assembly, they went about building this home,” Mrs. Youngkin said.

Designed by Alexander Parris, the Federalist style home with 14-foot ceilings still looks the same minus the dining room,” Mrs. Youngkin added. She proudly pointed to artwork from various Virginia institutions that are displayed throughout the mansion, as well as a portrait of Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears and Debbie Jo Evans art, “Forgotten Fentanyl Victims of Virginia,” which pays tribute to her son, Jamie, and other fentanyl victims of the epidemic.

“Julia Child: A Recipe for Life” runs through Sept. 2 at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, 428 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd.