Like a few others in the Triangle, Andrea Reusing found out she was a James Beard semi-finalist on Twitter. But of the 13 semi-finalists in North Carolina this year, Andrea Reusing of Lantern is the only one to have ever won the award before.
She earned Best Chef: Southeast in 2011, after being nominated for the first time the previous year. This year, Lantern is in the running for Outstanding Restaurant – not just in the southeast, but in the entire country. The restaurant is one of 20 that sealed a spot in that category.
Reusing says she was “very pleased and surprised” to hear the news and is especially proud of her 35-member staff. Yet she also remains steadily focused on the same thing she’s always been concerned about in her eleven years of business: providing good hospitality. “We want our guests to have fun,” she says. “Hospitality is our primary concern.”
When Reusing won her first James Beard Award two years ago, the restaurant got busier. The award also happened to arrive around the time she released her first cookbook, Cooking in the Moment. She’s not sure which event made a bigger impact on her business, but the restaurant started seeing new customers, both travelers and local residents.
Lantern specializes in Asian style food prepared with North Carolina ingredients. One of their most popular dishes is a tea and spice-smoked chicken, which is accompanied by a homemade XO sauce. Reusing shares the following recipe:
Fresh Peas with Lettuce and Green Garlic
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 5 small stalks green garlic, any tough parts trimmed, sliced into very thin rounds
- Kosher salt
- 1½ cups fresh or frozen shelled green peas
- 2 small heads of butter lettuce, washed and torn into pieces
- Freshly ground black pepper
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium sauté pan over low heat. Add the green garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic is tender and fragrant but with no color. Add the peas and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until they are tender and sweet. Stir in the lettuce and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter; add 1 tablespoon water if the mixture seems dry. Remove the pan from the heat and toss gently until the lettuce wilts and the butter melts. Season with fresh pepper and additional salt if needed.
This week, we’re taking a closer look at some of the local restaurants and chefs nominated as semi-finalists for the James Beard Awards. Check out these stories about Phoebe Lawless of Scratch bakery, Sean Lilly Wilson of Fullsteam brewery, and Aaron Vandemark of Panciuto. The James Beard Foundation will announce its finalists for the Restaurant and Chef Awards on March 18 and the winners on May 3.