Henrico woman competing for ‘Mrs. Holiday’ title
When Emma Bindas met her husband, Jozef Bindas, head baker and owner of Jean Jacques Bakery in Cary Town, she didn’t know how to bake a loaf of bread, let alone a cake. Now they sell her version of a French Christmas cake, buche de noule, in the shop.
“I learned to cook starting at the age of three,” she said. “My grandmother and my mom taught me everything about cooking. I can cook anything from every country, however they never taught me anything about baking at all. I met my husband, and he owns a bakery in Richmond, and I’m very competitive so I was like, ‘Ok I’m going to show him.’ Now I have to learn.”
Emma Bindas is competing in Taste of Home’s Mrs. Holiday contest with the Buche De Noule recipe she learned from her mother-in-law last January while visiting on a trip celebrating her recent nuptials to Jozef.
“She’s the one who kind of gave me the real recipe,” she said. “He does it like off of his head because he knows, but she gave me the golden paper.”
To make the cake Bindas first cooks thin layers of vanilla cake on sheet trays. She lets that cool and then makes an orange liqueur whipped cream using Grand Marnier, orange juice and pieces of orange peel. After applying the cream, she roles the sheet into a log shape and ices it with a Madagascar vanilla bean butter cream. She uses a fork to scrape a bark texture into the butter cream and then adorns the log with sugar mushrooms and leaves.
Buche De Noule translates to a log of Christmas, and is a log you’d find in the forest, Bindas explained.
“It’s a very European thing,” she said. “He [Jozef] made it with chocolate cake, with raspberry and then iced it in chocolate. So I said, ‘Wait a minute, I got to do my own thing,’ which is why I said, ‘Oy Grand Marnier, let’s do that.’ So I made my own version. So now I make it for him and he sells both of them at the store.”
Both Emma and Jozef Bindas are European and from culinary families. Emma was born in Piedmont, Italy and immigrated to New York when she was 13 years old. Her family ran several restaurants in Italy.
“My dad, my mom, my brother, we’re all chefs without papers,” she said. “Food is always the center of our family and we love the kitchen, we love food and we love passion.”
Jozef Bindas is one of eleven children of Regins and Dymitri Bindas, who were stolen from Russia by the Nazis and imprisoned at Auschwitz concentration camp, where they met.
After liberation, the Polish government sent the Bindas family a letter with the amount they would receive every month in reparation. The amount went to pay for housing and to fulfill their dream of opening a restaurant where they could prepare traditional Russian and Polish dishes, including hearty stews. Buche de Noule was on the menu.
Emma Bindas took the letter to the Richmond Holocaust Museum for validation. A copy now hangs in the museum.
If Emma Bindas wins the title of Mrs. Holiday, she would become the official holiday spokeswoman for Taste of Home and be awarded $50,000. She would appear at Taste of Home events and cooking schools, participate in interviews and cooking segments, and contribute regularly to the magazine.
She said she didn’t know about the award money when she submitted her recipe, but that if she won she would give the money to her husband to put back into the bakery to hire additional help.
“He has so many ideas, but with the economy and everything it’s hard to find people who graduate from culinary institutes because they require obviously a good salary,” she said. “He’s already spread pretty thin with trying to do everything and everything he does is awesome, but I know he could do so much more.”
The winner of the Mrs. Holiday contest will be selected from the top 100 entries that receive the most votes from the public through the Mrs. Holiday Search mobile app on Taste of Home’s Facebook page. Voting ends Sept. 7. A panel of experts will select the grand-prize winner.
The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.
Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.
Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.
At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.
Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.
The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.
Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.
The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.
“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”
The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.
Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.
Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?
Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.
Original Gravity gets the green light to move forward with relocation, expansion into larger space
A Lakeside home-brewing shop has felt the gravitational pull toward the booming craft beer scene.
Original Gravity, a shop that sells beer and wine kits for homebrewers, has just been given the green light to start work on a microbrewery.
Owner Tony Ammendolia is expanding his 1,000-square-foot shop in Lakeside Town Center to 5,000-square-foot digs a few doors down to add a brewery and expand his supplies.
Ammendolia opened the home-brew supply store in November 2011 and since then he said business has taken off.
“I think I outgrew this place in the first year,” Ammendolia said. “We’ve seen steady growth and I’ve been looking for a place to expand to move the shop to get more square footage.” > Read more.
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