Derby Day Gala at Rockledge

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

Date: 4 May 2019

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



Advance ticket is required, capacity is very limited. Admission/Donation tickets are non-refundable. 21 & Over Only. Gala held rain or shine.


See our Master Calendar.

Sat. May 4, 2019, is Roanoke’s most glamorous and delicious annual fundraising event. Our Gala has been named one of the Top Kentucky Derby

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! Plus the Rockledge Derby game.

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 11th 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 themenu for the 11th Annual Gala will once again be amazing.  Plan for a special and fun-filled day at this year’s Gala.

We’re thrilled to welcome Oysters XO to the Gala this year.  If you love oysters, you’ll want to be at the Gala this.  But even if you’re not an oyster fan, this is fun!

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


2019 Derby Day Gala Schedule

(Times may vary – updates are expected)

4:15 pm             Shuttles begin from VT Medical School parking garage

presented by Haley Toyota

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

4:30 pm            House Bars open Cocktails & beverage (2 bar locations)

presented by Cross, Lavinder, Quinn & Park Family Dentistry

4:30 pm            “Lucky”  Bar – Special cocktails (kitchen)

4:30 pm            Kentucky Derby “Lucky Lanes” opens

4:45-5:45 pm   Live music – Uptown

5:00-6:15 pm   Rockledge Derby Game (kitchen)

5:15 pm             Derby Buffet begins

6:00 pm            Non-Profit Presentations (outside tent)

6:15 pm             Best Derby Attire Awards

6:24 pm             Official post time for 144th Kentucky Derby

Immediately after race – drawing for “Lucky Lanes” winners

6:45-7:15 pm    Live music – Uptown

7:15 pm              Live Auction (outside tent)

7:45-9:00 pm   Rockledge Derby Game (kitchen)

8:15-9:30 pm   Live music – Uptown

10:00 pm          Last Shuttle from Rockledge to the parking garage


The fabulous chefs preparing the Derby Day Gala cuisine:

Guest Chefs

Rob Marilla CEC, has won 13 medals in ACF competitions, and has been an executive chef at top country clubs and restaurants.

Geoff Blount CEPC, WCMPC teaches Baking & Pastry Arts. His desserts have been featured at James Beard Dinners.

Food Fanatics Chef Jeff Bland has worked at Walt Disney World, La Petite France, and Buckhead’s, among many. Chef Bland makes frequent appearances on WDBJ7 and Fox 21/27.


Local Chefs

Ted Polfelt, CEC, CCA, FMP is a culinary instructor and Exec. Chef of the Jefferson Street Management Group.   Awards include SE Region Chef of the Year and silver medals at national chef competitions.

John Schopp, CEC, CEPC, CCE, CCA is CEO of Center Stage Catering, Baking and Pastry Arts program head, and head of the local ACF Chapter. Awards include ACF Chapter Pastry Chef of the year and ACF Cutting Edge Award.

Joe Dill, CEC, CCA is Corporate Chef for The Core Group, and a graduate of the Culinary Institute at VWCC. He volunteers for fundraising dinners and appears on WSLS’ Daytime Blueridge.

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

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.

The ACF Southwestern VA Knowledge Bowl Team is comprised of students from the Al Pollard Culinary Arts Program at VWCC. The team won this year’s southeast region competition.


What is the SW Virginia Chapter of the American Culinary Federation?  And why we support them!

This local non-profit organization’s membership are professional chefs, cooks, enthusiasts, students and others engaged in the planning, preparation, service, and supervision of foods and beverages, in commercial kitchens, hospitality, institutional and educational establishments. But this definition doesn’t fully tell their story.

Sure this group is active in raising our local food scene through education, training, and certification. Heck, you’ll find some of their members at the Culinary Institute at Virginia Western on any given day. But it’s when you look deeper you see the value and why they deserve our support. They are constantly giving of their time and talent to so many other non-profit causes and organizations. It might be their members provide an auction item for another non-profit’s fundraiser, or providing meals for US Veterans on Memorial Day or cooking for a fundraiser.

In fact, these chefs were the first group to say “yes, we’ll help” when the Derby Day Gala started 10 years ago. Back then the Gala helped fund another non-profit.

The 2018 Derby Day Gala will be fully supportive of the SW Virginia ACF chapter. This is their primary fundraising event. 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 Health Cooks

Local Environmental Agriculture Project Inc. (LEAP)

March of Dimes

Mill Mountain Zoo

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 Cambria Suite Hotel.

Get Directions

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

J. Harbeson - Facebook Review