2013-07-10 / Crossroads Weekend

Meet Lot 12's Damian Heath

Local man is award winning Chef
Top 3 photos by Cade Martin Photography. Bottom 2 photos by Betsy Heath.

Lot 12 Chef Damien Heath’s roots go deep in Berkeley Springs and Morgan County. 

He was raised here, the son of award-winning artists and county residents residents Jan and Jonathan Heath.

So even as Damien traveled the US and Europe to learn his craft, he always knew he’d come back to Berkeley Springs. “I am not a city person, he says, with a smile. “I love the sense of community in this small town.”

So, when an old house on Warren Street in Berkeley Springs—on what was called Lot 12 in the 1776 map of the town—came up for sale in 1998, it seemed like destiny was calling. He and she-who-became-his-wife Betsy fulfilled their obligation to the upscale Outer Banks bistro they had opened and managed, bought the house in Berkeley Springs, got married and opened Lot 12 within a year of returning home. The rest, as they say, is delicious history.

Chef Heath’s love of food and his art of creating memorable meals came from those childhood meals in Berkeley Springs, large Italian family dinners blessed with laughter and fabulous food, much of it grown in the family garden.  Although some might believe the “buy local” food notion is a new movement, Chef Heath’s family has always been oriented to the in-season freshness of what’s available locally. He carries on that tradition as he prepares seasonal upscale comfort cuisine, using local farm fresh ingredients with a little Italian heritage for complexity and flavor.

And the accolades roll in: Chef Heath is a perennial semifinalist in the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s Annual Awards, a event which in 2013 alone included over 44,000 entries. Other reviews:

           “As a top TripAdvisor spot, Lot 12 didn't disappoint. Perfect gourmet food, romantic and cozy small colonial style dining rooms. Bar has 5 stools or so, no room to hang before or after dinner. Very enjoyable, thanks Chef Damien!” Trip Advisor Reviewer           

           “I had one of my best meals in recent months up at Chef Heath’s place.” The Food Guy, Daily Mail

            “Chef Heath takes his love and passion for home grown foods and turns it into American Cuisine with a strong sense of Northern Italian Influence. Atlanta Food & Wine Festival           

            “Lot 12 is definitely an upscale restaurant, but Chef Heath and his wife, Betsy, who manages the front of the house, have infused it with a distinctly relaxed and familiar atmosphere, reflecting their personal style.”  Hagerstown Magazine

            But Chef Heath isn’t content to rest on his accolades. His newest venture,  “Rasta Billy BBQ,” is what he calls a “jerk sled,” a traveling rib that he’s just beginning to work with. (With all due kindness and respect—“shack” in this context is an endearment!)

            “I’ve always been fascinated with cooking over wood, “ he says. Plans for Rasta Billy BBQ include participating at various festivals and for catering gigs with a menu that includes ribs, of course, but also a jerk chicken made with Chef Heath’s own secret special touch.

You may have already seen (and smelled) the “jerk sled” parked across from the Berkeley Springs post office as Chef Heath “test drove” the equipment. It will be there occasionaly throughout the summer and he’ll be at the Morgan County Fair in July.

And, in a just-announced addition to Damian and Betsy Heath’s accolades, the couple has been recognized by Blue Ridge Country magazine for their personal contributions to the region in an article in the July/August edition entitled, “The Future of the Mountains: 25 Gen-X and Gen-Y People Making a Difference.” The Heaths are recognized for their contributions to the region as restaurant owners and activists in the local food movement. 

So, whether it’s Lot 12 or Rasta Billy BBQ, Chef Damian Heath’s love of good food and warm hospitality are part of what makes Berkeley Springs an extra special place.




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