Growing up, kitchens were the last place Emilio Peiro wanted to be. Over time, however, the youngest of five boys began cherishing his opportunities to cook traditional Spanish cuisine with his mother. Using her recipes, imported ingredients, and some additional skills picked up from his older brother, a fellow chef, Emilio now recreates his family’s meals at Emilio's Restaurante Español.
Said recipes include more than 45 tapas, ranging from flambéed chorizo to vegetarian- and vegan-friendly dishes, such as sherry-infused onion potatoes. For more substantial meals, Emilio and his culinary team toss garden veggies with smoked paprika and stir chunks of mussels, calamari, and shrimp into paella.
Bartenders complement Emilio’s bites with an extensive selection of handpicked Spanish wines, as well as housemade sangrias. After feasting, stick around until 2 a.m. for nightly live music, plus events such as salsa nights, where participants learn to dance while balancing bowls of salsa on their heads.
Hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, head chef Claudia Fentress crafts an island-inspired menu, which contains mouthfuls of Caribbean and American cuisine to feed guests consuming earfuls of live jazz. Experience life stranded on a deserted island with a world-class chef by diving into jumbo-sized pan-seared scallops with Caribbean seasoning and a garlic-butter coconut sauce ($13), then feast on a fresh rack of lamb marinated in rosemary, mint, and garlic ($21). Served with a side of Caribbean cognac-mustard sauce, the stuffed grilled chicken breast deftly hides bites of vegetables, crab, and shrimp ($19), and the swashbuckling Caribbean vegetable trio ($15) slices through hunger with cabbage, green beans, muscle-building spinach, and plantain swords.
Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as a singer who "takes the stage as if it belongs to her and belts out the blues like a force of nature," Sandra Reaves-Phillips dishes out a medley of jazz, blues, and soul honed through a lifetime on the stage. Reaves-Phillips has lent her pipes and dramatic skills to both the acclaimed 1986 jazz drama 'Round Midnight and 1989's Lean On Me, for which she sang the title track. During a show that barrels along on laughter and playful banter, her clear vibrato turns into a brassy growl as she uses standards such as "Let the Good Times Roll" to explore the heights and depths of her range. Her slower, sensual tunes seethe with swagger and knowing glances, building up to energetic versions of blues classics. Showstoppers from past performances include renditions of "Me and My Shadow," "St. Louis Blues," and "Two Wrongs," a country-blues ballad that confirms the conventional wisdom that two wrongs make one long civil lawsuit.
Considered by many to be the queen of Southern comfort food, Paula Deen is a best-selling author, television show host, retail mogul, and restaurateur. She brings her nourishment know-how to Richmond for a 2.5-hour cooking and chatting extravaganza sure to tickle eardrums and stir up jealousy in fellow chefs. Listen as Paula shares life stories alongside her husband, Michael Groover, and answers questions from the audience members—be they gastro-gurus or green-behind-the-ear gourmands. There will, of course, be some cooking demonstrations as well, so be prepared to potentially pick up some new recipes to try out at upcoming holiday dinners or social events.
At ComedySportz Improv Theatre, audience suggestions keep a family-friendly and fast-paced vortex of scenes, games, and songs spinning in competitive shows that pit two improv teams against each other. Inside the intimate, 100-seat theater, spontaneity rules as a referee moderates the all-ages-appropriate hilarity pitched between the Richmond Legends and Virginia Hams. At the end of each comedic duel, the audience votes for the winning team, sentencing the losers to feed the doves that live inside the winners' top hats. ComedySportz's laugh-masters also host regular workshops to teach aspiring yuksters the art of improvised hilarity and the essential virtues of spontaneity, risk taking, and engagement with the moment. Through scene work, ComedySportz games, and short- and long-form improv, students learn to keep audiences roaring in order to jump-start a career or become a more affable bank robber.