athal Armstrong, was born into a family with a passion for food. Recently honored as one of Food & Wine magazine’s “10 Best New Chefs” of 2006, and a nominee for 2007 James Beard Best Chef Mid-Atlantic, Cathal (silent “t”), a native Dubliner, grew up in a family unlike any other in Dublin at the time; they had a fruit and vegetable garden, ate plenty of garlic and had their own travel business. Through their family travels, Cathal was exposed to many different countries, cultures and cuisines. According to Armstrong, “My father is a natural, a great cook.” As they traveled to neighboring European countries, Cathal was introduced to the wealth of the food world, as well as being educated in the four languages he now speaks today: English, French, Spanish, and his native Irish.
Travel is how Cathal developed an appreciation of gastronomy. It was in France, at the tender age of seven that Cathal began his annual student exchange and his food curriculum for life. Each summer he lived with the same family, the Boudains’, returning to the truffle farms, peasant food and local vineyards. Those influences taught Cathal the importance of fresh produce, the value of animals and respect for the land.
At the age of 20, he and two partners opened The Baytree, a fine dining restaurant in the Dublin suburbs. Two years’ tenure and a desire to learn more of his craft led him to America. Cooking school may have been in his future, but a quick stopover in the Nation’s Capitol headed the agenda. Once in Washington and befriended by great chefs, he would stay ‘for just a while.’ For 11 years, Cathal moved his way through various top kitchens gaining experience, which caused the dining public and press alike to take notice of the new talent who emerged from Ireland.
It was his time spent at a restaurant called Cities, where he met his wife, business partner and muse, Meshelle Armstrong. Together, they conceived a project that brought them to Virginia, a state where producers and farmers are plentiful and where the lifestyle of shopping for food was similar to ‘home'.
At Restaurant Eve, Armstrong presents his version of elegant, yet straightforward food, sourcing the highest quality ingredients to create his regional American cuisine combined with influences of his youth. “Growing up in our house, most everything we ate came straight from the garden”, explains Armstrong. “Our food went right from the earth to the plate, maintaining their original flavors. My father would dig potatoes from our garden, boil them and serve them to me with just a bit of salt and butter…. It was food for the angels.”
Cathal’s mission to his children, as well as to his restaurant is to provide real, ingredient-based food. Through his menus, he educates. Armstrong encourages his guests to buy from sustainable organic farmers, to be seasonally specific in their buying and to be mindful of what is used in the production and growth process of these ingredients, so as to not add anything harmful to the body.
Cathal & Meshelle’s attention to detail and service within the community has not gone unnoticed. As the parents of two young children, the education and welfare of children are a priority to Armstrongs. Cathal was inducted into the Share Our Strength Leadership Council, a group of culinary notables from around the country who advise this non-profit dedicated to eradicating childhood hunger in the U.S.
Cathal’s involvement with local farmers goes beyond the restaurant and fundraising events. He is on the board and an active member of Fresh Farm Markets, a non-profit dedicated to preserving and protecting the nation’s agricultural resources.
In 2006 The National Restaurant Association awarded Restaurant Eve ‘The Neighborhood Community Award’ for It’s charitable works and community involvement.
In 2008, Armstrong’s efforts extend into the Green Restaurant Revolution. Together with the National Restaurant Association and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, he moderated an open discussion with philanthropist, media mogul and restaurateur, Ted Turner as to how restaurants can impact the future of our environment.
‘The Cow That Saved America’-Armstrong supports Joe Henderson of Chapel Hill Farm in Berryville, Virginia in his efforts to save the Randall Lineback.- America's rarest breed of cattle which is threatened with extinction Randall beef was on America’s table before feedlots, before antibiotics, and before growth hormones.