Derby Day Gala at Rockledge

Duration: 5 hrs. 4:30 - 9:30pm

Date: 2 May 2020

Location: Location - Rockledge, beneath the Mill Mountain Star.



21 & older

Admission/Donation tickets are non-refundable. Gala is held rain or shine.


See our Master Calendar.

Sat. May 2, 2020, is Roanoke’s most glamorous and delicious annual fundraising event. One of the Top 5 Kentucky Derby parties in the US!

Enjoy a champagne welcome plus a wide selection of wine, beer, a limited bar, and Mint Juleps.

Artfully prepared heavy hors-d’oeuvres, action stations, and spectacular desserts!

Live band and lots of dancing.

Lucky Lanes "friendly wagering" fundraiser!

Shuttle service from the covered parking garage at the VT School of Medicine.

The Lucky Bar will be creating signature specialty cocktails. Thanks Lucky Restaurant!

What to Expect

The 12th Annual Derby Day Gala


The Southwestern Virginia Chapter of the American Culinary Federation is the Gala’s non-profit beneficiary. Through the efforts of the ACF’s member chefs the menu for the 12th Annual Gala will once again be amazing.  Plan for a special and fun-filled day at this year’s Gala


Be sure to Like the Gala’s Facebook page for frequent updates and fun items.


2020 Derby Day Gala Schedule

(Times may vary – updates are expected)

4:15 pm             Shuttles (presented by Winter’s Storage) begin from VT Medical School parking garage

4:30 pm            Champagne Welcome & Hors-d’oeuvres

4:30 pm            House Bars open Cocktails & beverage presented by Cross, Lavinder, Quinn & Park Family Dentistry

4:30 pm            “Lucky”  Bar – Special cocktails presented by King, Shores & Preston CPA’s

4:30 pm             Kentucky Derby “Lucky Lanes” opens

5:00-6:15 pm    Live music – Uptown presented by Roanoke Valley Orthodontics

5:00 pm             Derby Buffet begins

6:15 pm              Non-Profit Presentations (outside tent)

6:25 pm             Best Derby Attire Awards

6:50 pm             Post time for 145th Kentucky Derby

Immediately after the race – drawing for “Lucky Lanes” winners

7:15 pm              Live Auction (outside tent)

7:45-9:15 pm  Live music – Uptown presented by Roanoke Valley Orthodontics

10:00 pm          Last Shuttle (presented by Winter’s Storage) from Rockledge to the parking garage


The 2020 Gala Menu

Details to be announced.



The chefs preparing the Derby Day Gala cuisine.

Chef Joe Dill, CEC, CCA is Corporate Chef for The Core Group, and a graduate of the Culinary Institute at VWCC.

Chef Darla Mehrken, CEC is a graduate of the Culinary Institute at VWCC. Executive Chef For Sodexo, and sits on the Chefs Council Committee for Food Service Director Magazine.

Chef James Zeisler,CEC, CCA, CDM, CFPP is the Program Head of Culinary Arts at VWCC. Awards include Certified Dietary Manger of the Year and Excellence in Teaching from VWCC.

Chef Greg Moran, CWPC; Knowledge Bowl Student Team Coach; Southwestern Virginia Chapter ACF Secretary; Adjunct Instructor Al Pollard Culinary Institute of VWCC.

Chef Paul Gautier, CEC, Executive Sous Chef and Banquet Manager at Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center.

Chef David Faulds, CCC, Garde Manger Chef at Washington and Lee University has received several hot food and appetizer medals; Community Kitchen Chef; actively mentors young culinarians.

Chef Bev Allman, MA, CAGS, Retired Culinary Arts Instructor, ACF Chef and Child Southeast Regional Award; Southeast Regional Cutting Edge Award for leadership and service to the culinary profession.

Chef Phil McManus, Ph.D; MBA; BS; BA; CEPC; CHE; CCA; Director of Dining Services with Chartwell in Carroll County VA; has a deep respect for chemistry, plating and patience required in developing chocolate treats.

Chef Brittany Gibbs, CWPC; BBA; MBA; AS; Certificates of Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry from VWCC; Adjunct Instructor at VWCC; Silver Medalist in ACF Cold Plated Dessert Competition; James Beard Foundation and Benchmark Hospitality International Culinary Arts Scholarship; Owner/Pastry Chef of The Flour Shop LLC.

Lauren Stefan Anderson, Guest Pastry Chef – Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center.

The ACF Southwestern VA Knowledge Bowl Team is comprised of students from the Al Pollard Culinary Arts Program at VWCC.   The team won the gold medal at SE Regionals and in August 2019 will compete at Nationals in Orlando, FL.  All these “chefs to be” are key contributors to the Gala and will be graduating in May 2019 from the Al Pollard Culinary Institute at VWCC.

Meghan DiPietro (Captain), a student at Al Pollard Culinary Institute at VWCC in baking and pastry; two-year Knowledge Bowl team member winning silver medal last year; works at Red Rooster Café in Floyd; loves to play with flavor components and develop complimentary styles.

Stephanie Higgs, a student at Al Pollard Culinary Institute at VWCC; two year member of Knowledge Bowl team; FCCLA scholarship winner in chicken fabrication and leadership skills; kitchen manager of Floyd Country Store; loves experimenting with different cuisines learning ingredient combinations and techniques.

Danny Brajdic, a student at Al Pollard Culinary Institute at VWCC, line cook at Tizzone wood fired kitchen; loves to work with fresh ingredients and to develop them on new pizza treats.

Brad Hugus, a student at Al Pollard Culinary Institute at VWCC; Garde Manage at Lucky in Roanoke, VA; loves to cook with lots of flavor and heat.


What is the SW Virginia Chapter of the American Culinary Federation?  

And why we support them!

The members of this local non-profit are professional chefs, cooks, students, and cooking enthusiasts. They provide services in commercial kitchens, hospitality settings, and institutional and educational establishments.

But this doesn’t tell their full story! They elevate our “Local Food Scene” through education, training, and certification. You’ll find their members at The Culinary Institute of Virginia Western engaged in teaching and mentoring students – many who will stay in our community after graduation.

Look deeper, and you will see that they donate their time and talent to benefit other non-profits and organizations in our community.  You will find them providing meals for US Veterans on Memorial Day, donating Auction items or cooking for a fundraiser.

These Chefs were the first group to say, “Yes!  We will help!” when the Derby Day Gala began in 2008.

The 2019 Derby Day Gala will benefit the SW Virginia Chapter of the American Culinary Federation and will serve as their primary fundraising event.

Thank you for supporting them by attending the Gala and donating generously!

The 2020 Derby Day Gala will be fully supportive of the SW Virginia ACF chapter. The funds raised will branch out into the Roanoke community in so many ways.


The ACF has supported these organizations:

Apple Ridge Farm.

Al Pollard Memorial Foundation 

Downtown Roanoke, Inc.

Happy Healthy Cooks

Local Environmental Agriculture Project Inc. (LEAP)

March of Dimes

Mill Mountain Zoo

Roanoke Festival in the Park – Scholarship for the Arts

Roanoke Rotary

Roanoke Valley YMCA

Ronald McDonald House

St. Francis Service Dog Foundation 

US Veterans

Virginia Culinary Team USA

VA State Prostart Student Invitational Competition

West End Center


Gala Questions & Information

Have questions?  For instance, where do we park to get the shuttle to the Gala?   What’s the menu look like this year?    What are this year’s auction items?  Or, why didn’t I get tickets in the mail or via email?

Please download these documents for the answer, and more!

You can also call us at (540) 309-1781 or email





Parking Location - Derby Shuttle mini-buses will start at 4:15 pm from the covered parking garage at Virginia Tech School of Medicine - 209 Reserve Avenue SW, Roanoke VA 24016 – entrance next to SpringHill Suites Hotel.

Get Directions

Beautiful location for a great event. We had so much fun!

J. Harbeson - Facebook Review