Derby Day Gala at Rockledge

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

Date: 4 May 2019

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



21 & older

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 (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

4:45-5:45 pm   Live music – Uptown presented by Roanoke Valley Orthodontics

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 145th Kentucky Derby

Immediately after race – drawing for “Lucky Lanes” winners

6:45-7:15 pm    Live music – Uptown presented by Roanoke Valley Orthodontics

7:15 pm              Live Auction (outside tent)

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

8:15-9:30 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 2019 Gala Menu

Some changes may occur.

There will be a dedicated service area for Gluten-free, vegetarian and other diet restrictions.

Passed Hors d’oeuvres

Mobile raw bar; oysters on the half-shell – provided by Oysters XO

Goat Gouda with Basil Oil in Baby Potato Skins

Dried Cucumbers with Benedictine topped with Pickled Shrimp

Country Ham on Mini Sweet Potato Biscuit

Crab Cake Bites with Horseradish Cream

Carving Station

Roasted Beef Tenderloin

Rosemary Sea Salt Rolls

Horseradish Sauce, Whole Grain Mustard and Caramelized Onions

BBQ Station

Creamy Southern Pimento Cheese Grits with Slow Smoked Pulled Pork Glazed with Kentucky Bourbon and Peach BBQ Sauce

Soup and Salad Station

Butternut Squash-Mango Soup with Pistachio Gremolato

Run for the Roses Gazpacho

Mint Julep Fruit Salad

French Green Bean Salad

Herbed Potato Salad

Assorted Mixed Greens, Fresh Vegetables and Gourmet Toppings

Dips and Finger Food Station

Spinach-Artichoke Hot Dip, Crab Hot Dip, Beer Cheese, Pimento Cheese, Layered Mediterranean Dip, Benedictine Deviled Egg Variety, Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail, Grilled Vegetables Assorted Cheese torts, Crostini, Pita and Tortilla Chips

Sandwich Station

Hot Browns

Smoked Turkey with Brie and Apple Butter Panini

Open Face Heirloom Tomato Medley

Accompaniments of Micro-greens, Cheese, Bacon, Balsamic Glaze and Lemon Vin

Dessert Station

Chocolate Lounge

Bourbon Balls

Chocolate Caramel and Sea Salt Tort

Derby Pies

Orange Scented Bread Pudding with Vanilla Crème Auglaize

Lemon Panna Cotta with Blackberries and Myer Lemon Marmalade


Be prepared for the Derby Day Gala auction! 

Check out the items being auctioned at this year’s auction.

Don’t want to wait?  Or risk being outbid – see Buy It Now information and price on all auction items.

Party Like a Chef – Group Adventure


One Week stay for 10 at Casa Piazza in Manzanillo, Mexico.

And many more!



The fabulous chefs preparing the Derby Day Gala cuisine.

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 SpringHill Suites Hotel.

Get Directions

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

J. Harbeson - Facebook Review