Food

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.

Patients at UNC hospitals will soon be able to dine bedside on 4-diamond fare from Il Palio at the Siena Hotel. UNC's Nutrition and Food Services Director Angelo Mojica is teaming up with the executive chef from Il Palio - Adam Rose - to feature some of the restaurant's fine cuisine.

Duke University

Duke University has forged a relationship with South Sudan that it hopes will fill the stomach and the soul. 

A dish at Lantern, a previous James Beard Award winner
Lantern

The James Beard Foundation has released its annual list of semifinalists for the Restaurant and Chef Awards. On the list are 13 North Carolina eateries and chefs, 9 of which are in or near the Triangle. The James Beard Awards are considered the highest awards in the food industry. The semifinalists in North Carolina are:

O'Neal's Sea Harvest
Leoneda Inge

The past decade has been especially hard on one of North Carolina’s most treasured industries.  Since 2000,  the coast has lost 36-percent of its fish houses. That’s where fishermen sell and deliver their catch for wholesale distribution.  A new fish house inventory funded by North Carolina Sea Grant shows the rate of closings has slowed.  Changing Economy Reporter Leoneda Inge visited a fish house on the Outer Banks that has worked to turn its business around.

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