Posts filed under ‘Chefs’

Women rock our foodshed

Andrea Reusing

Andrea Reusing

North Carolina ‘s widely recognized real-food scene is cultivated by hundreds of innovative chefs, farmers, advocates and entrepreneurs.  A recent story in The New York Times noted that so many are women. Got that right.

Women are running the best professional kitchens across the state, reported Kim Severson. But there’s more. “The food sisterhood stretches out beyond restaurants too, into pig farming, flour milling and pickling,” she wrote. “Women manage the state’s pre-eminent  pasture-raised meat and organic produce distribution businesses, and preside over its farmers’ markets. They influence food policy and lead the state’s academic food studies. And each fall, the state hosts the nation’s only retreat for women in the meat business.”

Turns out women lead in “every single link in the food chain in North Carolina,” said Margaret Gifford, who spent 16 years in the state and founded the nonprofit Farmer Foodshare (now directed by Gini Bell).

The Times feature cited amazing chefs including Andrea Reusing (Lantern), Ashley Christensen (Poole’s Downtown Diner and more), Katie Button (Asheville’s Curate and Nightbell), and Vivian Howard (Kinston’s Chef and the Farmer, and the PBS Show A Chef’s Life).

Other leaders include  food studies professor Marcie Cohen Ferris (UNC), innovative pickler April McGreger (Farmer’s Daughter), baker Phoebe Lawless (Scratch), pork producer Eliza MacLean (Cane Creek Farm), meat distributor Jennifer Curtis (Firsthand Foods) and millers Jennifer Lapidus and Kim Thompson (Carolina Ground).

In our Pittsboro foodshed alone, we admire Debbie Roos, our sustainable agricultural extension agent and pollinator garden propagator. Also Slow Money NC co-founder Carol Hewitt, Abundance NC director Tami Schwerin, sustainable ag community college director Robin Kohanowich, Greek restaurateur Angelina Koulizakis-Bashista and a long list of female farmers, co-op leaders, food bank operators, and farmers’ market managers. Yow.

Men working in the food shed told The Times that it’s not surprising that women are leading the way. “For me, it’s as simple as the cream rises to the top,” said Chef Tandy Wilson (City House).

To read the full story:









January 28, 2015 at 6:20 pm Leave a comment

Now chefs can order local food online 24/7

Will Cramer of Ever Laughter Farm makes a delivery order that was placed online at Mint Market. (photo by

It’s a dream come true for local chefs who love fresh local food. Now, thanks to Mint Market, restaurants can order directly from farmers, bakers and other vendors 24/7 via a new online market, and expect the goods to be delivered to their door any day of the week. Chefs will pay wholesale prices and avoid traveling market to market in search of what they need.

It’s also a great deal for local farmers and vendors trying to expand their customer base. Instead of trying to spend another day at another market, they let Mint Market know what they have for sale in the coming week and if a local chef places an order, they deliver it directly.  Farmers can chat with the chef when they make the delivery, building the important relationships that chefs and fresh food vendors have always relied on. But with Mint, the business details are taken care of online.

Why hasn’t someone thought of this before? here are Tonline farmers markets in other foodsheds around the country. But Mint Market is the only online wholesale market, and it is designed just  for chefs.

It’s the brainchild of Rick Spero, who earned a physics doctorate at Carolina, and David Ivy, a computer science graduate of N.C. State.

September 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm 1 comment

Pittsboro Pepper Festival Oct. 2

The Pittsboro Pepper Festival may sound like it belongs on the list of “Top 10 Strangest Small Town Events in America,” but it’s one you don’t want to miss. While the obsession with local heirloom peppers might be a little quirky, this growing celebration of local food, beer, and music is truly a community event.  The 4th Annual Pittsboro Pepper Festival is set for Sunday, October 2, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the newly constructed community park in Briar Chapel (north Chatham county off of US 15-501).

Local hotshot chefs will present appetizers and desserts featuring over 60 varieties of heirloom local peppers (everything from sweet to hot).

You’ll also enjoy peppery beer.  It could take you all evening to swallow the spicy samples from this dazzling list of participants from A to Z:  Andrea Williams, Angelina’s Kitchen, Bean and Barrel, Benjamin Wineries, Bobby’s Water Ice, Cackalacky Cantina 18,  Carolina Brewery  Carolina Crossroads Restaurant   Chatham Marketplace, Chicken Bridge Bakery, Crook’s Corner, Fullsteam Brewery,  Dos Perros Restaurant, 8 Seaboard, Hillsborough BBQ, The Granary at Fearrington, General Store Cafe, Green Man Brewery, Glass Half Full,  Lucky 32, Market Restaurant   On the Square,     Mez , The Natural Chef Program @ CCCC , Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery,  Triangle Brewery,  Saxapahaw General Store,  Starrlight Meadery, Stevie’s Booch, Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe  and  Zely & Ritz.

The festival sprung from the work of Doug Jones, farmer extraordinaire of Piedmont Biofarm. He has been creating and growing special peppers designed to thrive in Pittsboro and the Piedmont. He grows about 100 varieties at his farm on the eastern side of Pittsboro, and he wants you to love peppers as much as he does.

“Ripe peppers are an underutilized and under appreciated super food,” Doug says. “They grow exceptionally well in the piedmont of NC, our climate.  We want to develop the consumer demand and increase the growers in our region.  Peppers are exceptionally high in Vitamin A and Vitamin C as well as flavor and phytonutrients.”

There will also be live music by Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes, and Lonnie Walker. Stick around for the crowning of the King and Queen of the festival.  And bring the kids, face-painting and plenty of activities for the whole family.

Pittsboro Pepper Fest proceeds go to the Abundance Foundation and Piedmont Biofarm.

Admission is $20 in advance until Sep 13, $25 until Oct 1st, or $30 at the entrance and includes all-access to food and entertainment. Beverages are cash bar. As always, the Pittsboro Pepper Festival’s screen-printed Limited Edition 2011 t-shirts and posters will be on sale at the festival.

Sponsors include: Briar Chapel, Sanford Construction, WCHL, Sanford Contractors, Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery, openNMS, McKim & Creed,  Burt’s Bees Corporate Investors Mortgage Group, Piedmont Biofuels, Larry’s Beans, Chatham County Economic Development, Bradshaw & Robinson, LLP, JY Visuals, Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music & Dance,  The Sustainable Agriculture Program, Central Carolina Community College , Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Kinder Soles, Krombach Dunn & Co, PLLC, Garlick and Murray Family Medicine, Weaver Street Realty, Country Farm & Home, Chatham Mills Farmers’ Market, NC Agritourism Networking Association, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Chatham Portables, Eco Products.

September 20, 2011 at 7:47 pm Leave a comment

Behind every successful chef…

Lantern's Andrea Reusing and Miguel Torres (Photo by Takaaki Iwabu

When you send your “compliments to the cook,” don’t forget the sous chef. Andrea Weigl, award-winning food writer for the News and Observer, has written a fabulous feature about the cooks in the kitchen who make some of the Triangle’s best chefs shine.  Andrea Reusing (Lantern) relies on Miguel Torres.  Amy Tornquist (Watts Grocery) turns to Sunny Gerhart. Ben Barker (Magnolia Grill) has Amanda Forsyth, and Walter Royal (Angus Barn) is backed by both  Jimmy Alfano and Jim Long. You can read all about these super sous chefs in the full story, or savor this morsel below about Miguel Torres. He began his career in his mother’s restaurant in Guanajuato, Mexico, then started over in NC as a dishwasher:

“Miguel Torres, 31, came to the United States from Mexico at the age of 18, knowing very little English, and with only an uncle’s promise of a dishwashing job at a Chapel Hill restaurant…..

“Six months after Torres arrived in Chapel Hill, chef Bret Jennings took over the restaurant, turning it into Elaine’s on Franklin. Torres climbed the fine-dining kitchen’s hierarchy: dishwasher, prep cook, line cook.

“When Lantern opened across the street in late 2001, Torres got a second job there working as a pastry assistant. Torres worked 80 hours a week, splitting his time between Elaine’s and Lantern. Eventually, Reusing offered Torres more money to come work for her full time and he left Elaine’s.

“Along the way, Torres realized food could be more than just a livelihood. He was inspired by the fact that Reusing was so successful despite never having gone to culinary school. He says he thought: ‘I can do this.’  [Claro, si se puede!]

“Three years ago, he was made Lantern’s chef de cuisine. This year, Reusing won Best Chef of the Southeast from the James Beard Foundation, which not only reflects her skill but the ability of her staff – and especially Torres – to execute her food.”

Follow @andreaweigl on Twitter.

May 27, 2011 at 5:29 pm Leave a comment

Sustainable food fun all week-end, June 12-13

Three special events are coming up this week-end, where you can learn to cook healthy local food on a  budget, check out the amazing urban farming scene in Carrboro, and share a farm-fresh potluck supper with with Clyde Edgerton, Kickin’ Grass and local farmers and artists at the famous community college farm lab in Pittsboro.  Plan carefully and you can take it all in. Here’s the schedule:

You bought it so cook it: I love what Linda Watson is doing with her Cook for Good lessons: proving that you can eat fresh, local, sustainably grown food, even on a food-stamp budget — if you cook it yourself and use all of it wisely. She will show you how to save time and money while eating delectable fare in a way that’s good for you and the planet.   Saturday June 12, 2-3 p.m. at Chatham Marketplace in Pittsboro. $5 for CM member/owners, $10 general public. You must pre-register, call 542-2643.

Carrboro Urban Farm Tour: More than 15  backyard gardens and food enterprises will be open for inspection for the third annual urban farm tour in Carrboro, the Paris of the Piedmont. I participated last fall and loved visiting community gardens, all kinds of intensive vegetable beds, apiaries, chicken coops, and an artisanal bakery at a co-housing neighborhood.  Saturday June 12, 2-6:30 p.m., including walking and biking tours and a potluck supper at the end of the day. Pick up maps at Carrboro Raw, across from Weaver Street Market.

Potluck in the Pasture: When local artists, foodies and farmers converge, the result is pure pleasure. ChathamArts presents the 5th Annual Potluck in the Pasture, featuring local author Clyde Edgerton, music by Kickin’ Grass, and a chance to meet plenty of other local artists. Stonemason Joe Kenlan and Greek food goddess Angelina Koulizakis (Angelina’s Kitchen) will be running the wood-fired pizza oven with fresh dough from My Neighborhood School and fresh ingredients from the garden. Bring a potluck dish to share or plan to purchase fresh produce at the market on site, and enjoy getting a tour of the sustainable student farm and herb garden. Admission is $8 at the door, $5 online, kids under 10 free. Sunday June 13, 5-7 pm, Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro.

— Dee Reid

June 6, 2010 at 6:48 pm 2 comments

Gulf oil, local shrimp and grits

Whenever I think about what’s happening to the Gulf with the oil spill, I start wondering about the future of shrimp. And whenever I think of shrimp, I can’t help recalling the late great chef Bill Neal, who branded our unique seasonal southern cuisine with  his now famous “shrimp and grits,” long before any of us ever knew what slow food and locavore meant.  At least we still have NC shrimp, Bill’s classic recipe, and his successor Bill Smith at Crook’s Corner to do it up right. Here’s the original recipe in honor of my favorite Chef Bills for persuading me that grits are really great after all, with the right recipe:

Crook’s Corner Shrimp and Grits (4 servings)

1 cup grits

4 cups water or milk

1 cup cheddar cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 teasp. salt

1/8 teasp. white pepper

pinch of cayenne pepper

1/4 teasp. Tabasco sauce

6 slices bacon

peanut oil

1 lb. fresh shrimp, peeled, deveined and rinsed

2 cups white button mushrooms, sliced

1 cup scallions, minced

1 large clove garlic, minced

4 teasp. lemon juice

2 Tablespsoons fresh parsley

Cook grits according to package instructions in milk or water. Turn off heat. Add cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, butter, salt, white pepper, cayenne pepper and Tabasco. Stir until mixed. Set aside and keep warm.

Dice bacon and saute lightly until edges are brown but bacon is not crisp. Remove, drain, set aside.

Add peanut oil to skilled to make a layer about 1/4 inch thick. Pat shrimp dry, add shrimp to hot oil in even layer. Turn as they color. Add mushrooms and saute for about 4 minutes. Add scallions and garlic. heat, stir for 1 minute more. Season with lemon juice, dash of tabasco, salt and pepper to taste and parsley.

Divide grits over four plates. Spoon shrimp on top, sprinkle with bacon, serve immediately.

— Reprinted in the News and Observer from Remembering Bill Neal: Favorite Recipes from a Life in Cooking by Moreton Neal.

*By the way, if you want a regular supply of seafood fresh from the NC coast, you might consider joining the first Community Supported Fishery (CSF) in the Carrboro-Chapel Hill area. It’s called Core Sound Seafood, offering weekly and bi-weekly shares of seafood from Carteret County, delivered to a convenient local location starting in mid-June.

The idea is to connect Down East fishermen to a local, viable market. They have pledged to donate a dollar for every pound of seafood sold to a special assistance fund to help commercial fishing families in times of need. A limited number of shares are still available.

–Dee Reid

May 27, 2010 at 8:27 pm Leave a comment

Quote of the Week: From two chefs, many

April 28, 2010 at 4:41 pm Leave a comment

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