In 1935, chef Reid Shilling‘s great-uncles founded the Shilling Canning Company in Hampstead, Maryland. The business preserved produce like sweet peas, tomatoes, and corn from their family farm and others.
Now, Shilling is opening his own Shilling Canning Company. This one, however, will be a restaurant centered around Mid-Atlantic cuisine. It’s slated to open on the ground floor of the Arris Apartments at The Yards development in Navy Yard by early 2018.
The Baltimore native is no stranger to Mid-Atlantic cooking, having previously worked as a sous chef at the Dabney. But whereas chef Jeremiah Langhorne‘s cooking has southern roots from his time at McCrady’s in Charleston, Shilling’s background leans more French and Californian. His resume also includes time working for famed chef Thomas Keller at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, California.
The oft-changing seasonal menu at Shilling Canning Company will consist of a mix of entrees and share plates, although Shilling doesn’t have specific dishes in mind yet. “It’s mostly about finding the best product and figuring out what to do with it,” he says. “That’s more that California mentality.”
The menu will, however, include some pizzas made with a long-fermentation dough and cooked in wood-fired brick oven. Shilling’s grandfather was a “bread man” (i.e. bread delivery man) for a bakery in Baltimore in the ’30s and ’40s, and fittingly, the restaurant will also bake its own loaves. In particular, Shilling is a big fan of sourdoughs and has a 25-years-old starter in his kitchen that he plans to use. In addition, the restaurant will have a raw bar highlighting Chesapeake seafood. You can bet there will be Maryland blue crabs too—Shilling grew up eating them twice a week in the summer.
It’s not just the food that will change seasonally, but also the cocktails and even the wines. “We are going to look for ways to rotate in bottles that complement the flavors that we’re currently using. So in the summer, you’ll see those big, bright, acidic whites, and in the winter you’ll see more of the deep, dark, jammy reds,” Shilling says.
The 75-seat restaurant will have an open kitchen with counter seating showing off the wood-fired oven and a wood-burning grill. Outside, a patio will have views of the Anacostia River and a garden, where the restaurant will grow herbs and small produce used on the menu.
Shilling will, of course, be canning some of his ingredients.
In researching his family’s business, Shilling found a book where one former employee told this story: “If a truckload of tomatoes would show up, and there was one unripe tomato on the truck, then the whole truckload would go back,” Shilling says. “I always laugh about that with my farming friends, like, ‘See guys, it’s in my blood. There’s no way around it, I was born for this.'”
Shilling Canning Company, 1331 4th St., SE.