Food

James Beard Foundation
James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Foundation announced the recipients of the 2013 Restaurant and Chef Awards on Monday night. Raleigh’s Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner was in the running for Best Chef in the Southeast, but the final award for that category went to Joseph Lenn of The Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. Christensen was North Carolina’s only James Beard Award Nominee (finalist) this year, out of 13 semi-finalists in the state. Hear her interview with WUNC's State of Things.

Chef Ashley Christensen is a finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southeast.
ac-restaurants.com

To Ashley Christensen, a restaurant is not just a place where you sit down to eat.  It’s an entire concept.  She carefully plots an immersive experience for her diners. 

Dogs wait in line for treats from the Waggin' Wagon.
courtesy of McKinney

The Triangle has some of the state’s most sought-after flavors: a recent slew of James-Beard Award semifinalists and Durham’s newest title, “Tastiest Town in the South,” have people chatting happily about the region’s good tastes.

There are days for cake, and days for ice cream and cookies. But every now and then, you crave a different kind of finish to a satisfying meal. Enter Atlantic Beach Pie, a salty and citrusy staple of the North Carolina coast.

Shelly Green with Durham's award for the Tastiest Town in the South
Leoneda Inge

It’s a booming year for the Durham food scene. In February, four of its restaurants became James Beard semi-finalists, and today Southern Living magazine declared Durham the “Tastiest Town in the South.”

John Anton, bar manager at Mandolin
courtesty of John Anton

If you’ve never heard of pisco, then you're not alone. But  Mandolin bar manager John Anton hopes to change that.  He wants to introduce pisco – a Peruvian grape brandy – to people in the Raleigh area willing to give it a go, and he believes that a trip to Peru to witness the makers of the spirit can help him do it. Anton will head to the Peruvian town of Ica next month, courtesy of pisco-maker Campo de Encanto, to watch a 90-year-old master pisco distiller in action.

A shopper examines produce at Deep Roots grocery.
Deep Roots Coop

Residents in Greensboro haven’t been able to shop downtown for fresh produce, seafood and prepared meals in decades. The city had two A&P Grocery stores in the early 1970s, but since they left no other markets have filled the void. That changed this week when Deep Roots Market relocated to North Eugene St.

Phoebe Lawless
Lissa Gotwals

People who bake pies for a living usually do so because they love it. Not to win awards. So when Phoebe Lawless of Scratch bakery learned recently that the James Beard Foundation named her a semi-finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef – an honor she shares with only 19 others in the country – she was thoroughly shocked.   “I certainly did not expect to find myself on the list,” she said.  Lawless learned of the honor while at home on her couch, when someone mentioned it on Twitter.  

Fullsteam's First Frost persimmon ale
Fullsteam

Like last year, Sean Lilly Wilson of the Durham brewery Fullsteam found out that he was on the list of 2013 James Beard Award semi-finalists via Twitter.  And he thought it was a mistake.  His reaction?  “Profound disbelief,” he says.  Wilson’s Fullsteam made the semi-finalist list for the Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional Award, joining names like Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Buffalo Trace Distillery, and The Brooklyn Brewery.

Even though he’s been a James Beard Award semi-finalist for three years in a row, Chef Aaron Vandemark of Hillsborough’s Panciuto was caught off guard last month when he learned that his name was on the list yet again. He was checking his email and received a congratulatory note, at first not realizing what it was for.  But that’s not too different from last year, Vandemark says. In 2012, he was alone in his kitchen cutting up lamb parts when he received a phone call from a writer in Raleigh who gave him the news.  “I’m always surprised by how informal it is,” he admits, referring to the fact that The James Beard Foundation does not notify its semi-finalists directly.

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