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First James Beard House Culinary Director Jameeale Arzeno visits Richmond Friday night to share cast-iron cooking tips

Jameeale Arzeno first entered the James Beard House in New York City as a volunteer chef decades ago, when she was going back to school to pursue a culinary degree and simply wanted to soak up as much experience as possible.

Being in that environment allowed Arzeno to sharpen her culinary skills as she worked with and learned from talented chefs. It was also an eye-opening experience, one that showed Arzeno the harsh reality for women who chose to work in the male-dominated food industry.

But fast-forward more than 20 years and every insult, every tiring 14-hour shift, every artfully crafted meal of Arzeno’s culinary journey has led her back to the James Beard House, this time as its first culinary director. She was hired for the role in October 2018, and works with visiting chefs and their teams during the more than 200 events hosted at the house annually.

The house is an extension of the famed James Beard Foundation, which promotes and celebrates chefs, food culture and industry standards.

Arzeno, who lives in Harlem, N.Y., will bring her passion and her stories to Richmond on Friday evening when she hosts “Cast Iron & Comfort: The Artistry of Cooking with Cast Iron,” from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at an undisclosed location in the city. The event is put on by the Underground Kitchen, the Richmond-based organization that hosts elaborate culinary experiences both locally and around the country.

Tickets are $150 per person and once attendees purchase tickets, they’ll be given details. The night will feature multiple courses prepared by Arzeno with dishes influenced by her experiences growing up in the Bronx in a family of cooks who used cast-iron skillets regularly.

By phone from New York earlier this week, Arzeno said her family’s traditions start with her earliest memories of being about 5 years old, when she and her family would go to a family friend’s restaurant in Manhattan and order duck.

“Everything always revolved around food in our household,” she said, noting that she spent a lot of time in the kitchen with both of her grandmothers — one was a baker, the other a cook.

“I love every opportunity that is available to me because of what food does,” she said, explaining that “it creates a conversation [and] it opens up knowledge of other people, of other cultures.”

She also points to people like Julia Child as culinary inspiration in her young life. At 9, “I was watching Julia Child and thinking this is a woman who’s on TV, who’s not a model,” she said, but “she’s different, she’s unusual, she sounds funny and she loves food like me.”

Arzeno said she’s thrilled to be back at the James Beard House, a place that, in part, shaped her into the strong chef she is today.

Limitations and the “old-school mentality” still exist, she said, particularly for women.

But “I think because of who James Beard was, and the things that he stood for, I think that it speaks volumes that the first culinary director is a woman and a woman of color,” Arzeno said. “Whatever I can do with this platform to create a larger opening in that doorway for people who are women or different ... to come through in the industry or have more opportunity, that’s what I’m going to do.”

For details about “Cast Iron & Comfort” or to buy tickets, visit www.theundergroundkitchen.org/tickets.


Plus
Man who had an arsenal and let Longwood students smoke pot at his home sentenced to nearly 8 years

A Farmville man who admitted to regularly smoking marijuana in his heavily armed home frequented by Longwood University students was sentenced Thursday to seven years and 11 months in prison.

Robert N. Baldwin III, 50, who had no prior criminal record, pleaded guilty in July to possessing firearms while an unlawful user of a controlled substance and faced up to 10 years in prison. Federal sentencing guidelines called for a term of 87 to 108 months.

“This was a situation that created a powder keg ... that could have resulted in a lot of harm to a lot of people,” said U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. The judge said he was prepared to impose a 108-month sentence, but took off the 13 months Baldwin has already served for a related conviction in state court.

Given a chance to speak before the sentence was imposed, Baldwin apologized for his misconduct and said, “I didn’t hurt anyone, I wasn’t planning to hurt anyone.”

“I’m not a bad person or a crazy person,” Baldwin said.

Gibney interrupted him, asking, “Why did you have all those guns?”

Baldwin said, “I collect guns. I’m a hunter.”

Gibney disagreed, noting the illegal weapons — such as an unregistered short-barrelled rifle and silencers — that were found in Baldwin’s possession.

“These were not for hunting ... this is just offensive and dangerous firepower,” the judge said.

Baldwin’s guilty plea was part of an agreement with the government in which charges of possessing the unregistered rifle and silencers and of maintaining a drug-involved premises were dropped.

A federal grand jury indictment alleged that Baldwin opened, used and maintained a place for distributing and using controlled substances from Sept. 1, 2017, to April 23, 2018.

His house, at 300 S. Virginia St., was searched by Farmville police and Virginia State Police on April 23, 2018. Police were investigating complaints that Baldwin had opened his home to Longwood students where they could regularly smoke pot.

An agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives testified Thursday that when the search was conducted, the police discovered Baldwin and several students inside the home smoking marijuana. A small amount of pot and some drug paraphernalia were discovered.

Records show that inside the house, the police found the following items: 23 rifles, eight shotguns, six semiautomatic pistols, three revolvers, parts of firearms, three silencers, an improvised explosive device, more than 100 magazines capable of holding more than 15 rounds of ammunition, more than 23,000 rounds of ammunition, a tactical armored vest, a brand-new Motorola car police radio, two sets of black soft armor, a gas mask and a bucket holding pipe bomb parts.

In addition, the search turned up a Virginia State Police baseball hat, tactical shirt and in-service identification card. Baldwin, the authorities noted, was never employed by the state police.

The U.S. attorney’s office reported that some of the tactical gear, clothing and weapons discovered displayed the logo of “the 3%ers.”

A sentencing memorandum filed in the case said the “3%ers” advocate for a strict interpretation of the Second Amendment of the Constitution, “strongly believing in armed rebellion against perceived government overreach, especially with respect to gun laws.”

Baldwin was convicted of possession of materials to make explosive devices in Prince Edward County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to 10 years, with all but eight years and 11 months suspended.

Stephen W. Miller, an assistant U.S. attorney, asked Gibney to impose a sentence within the guideline range, arguing that while an armed user of illegal drugs presents grave dangers, this case went far beyond a typical such case.

“He had tremendous firepower at his hands,” Miller said. Baldwin was not simply a collector or someone interested in self-defense only. “The question screams: ‘Why did he have all this?’ ” Miller said.

Baldwin’s lawyer, Michael Brickhill of Lynchburg, strongly rejected the notion his client was dangerous. Brickhill asked if Baldwin was the next mass killer, “or is this some gun nut who thought he was safe in his home?”

Brickhill told Gibney that the government had access to Baldwin’s cellphone and other devices since the search of the home, but there was no evidence Baldwin was up to anything nefarious.

In a sentencing memorandum filed in the case, Brickhill wrote: “The government’s investigation, and that of the Commonwealth of Virginia, yielded no evidence that Baldwin committed, or that his home was the site of, any act of violence, threat of violence, conspiracy to commit acts of violence, or solicitations to commit acts of violence.”

Brickhill added that, “in reality, Baldwin has no criminal history and is 50 years old — part of a demographic and age group for whom recidivism is unlikely.” He added that Baldwin has lived in Farmville his entire life and has deep ties to his family and community. For those and other reasons, Brickhill asked for a sentence at the bottom of the guideline range.


Lotteries
Lotteries for editions of Friday, Nov. 8

THURSDAY, NOV. 7

Day Pick 3: 3-9-8

Day Pick 4: 1-0-4-8

Day Cash 5: 3-4-7-20-30

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 6

Night Pick 3: 2-9-8

Night Pick 4: 7-4-3-8

Night Cash 5: 9-11-12-17-32

Cash 4 Life: 1-7-21-36-47 (CB 4)

Bank a Million: 6-13-17-28-30-36 (BB 37)

Power: 15-28-46-62-64 (PB 17) 3x

There was no jackpot-winning ticket in Wednesday’s $40 million multistate Powerball drawing. Saturday’s estimated jackpot is $50 million.

Pick 3, Pick 4 and Cash 5 numbers are drawn twice a day. Cash 4 Life is drawn daily. Mega Millions is drawn Tuesdays and Fridays. Bank a Million and Powerball are drawn Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Visit Richmond.com (search: lottery) for out-of-state numbers.