Dustin Haney has been riding a high ever since Scratch opened its doors back in 2013. His dishes have garnered attention and set a competitive standard for restaurants in the area, but the dish that started it all for him was one he used as a 17-year-old in Virginia Beach to impress his also-17-year-old girlfriend.
"It was chicken pancetta alfredo – sautéed chicken, wilted spinach, rendered pancetta and Parmigiano-Reggiano cream, served with penne. I know ... pretty lame," he grins. "It was, however, the first complete dish I learned all the components of, and the first dish I felt confident enough to replicate outside of work."
Haney, naturally, has a nostalgic appreciation for the dish – that 17-year-old girlfriend is now his better half, and on occasion, when the mood strikes, he'll bust it out for old time's sake. "The dish is, at best, very elementary, but it taught me how to replicate mise en place, how to adjust and control variables, and how to see a dish through to its completion without supervision." While Haney's sure-shot chicken pancetta alfredo will never appear on Scratch's menu, that "lame dish" did teach him another valuable lesson – that cooking can please, and even impress.