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

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.

Coming soon to a restaurant near you: a rare hamburger. New food safety rules will free up many establishments to serve undercooked meat as long as they provide a written warning of the risks on the menu or elsewhere. It's part of federal food guidelines adopted by North Carolina last week, and being implemented statewide September 1st.

Larry Michael is head of the food protection program with the state Division of Public Health. He says the rules are about more than just a rare burger.

Fearrington House
Leoneda Inge

There’s a new food magazine on store shelves focusing on food culture of the South. Food from North Carolina is featured this month. 

Thousands of residents in Guilford County have been without food stamps for several weeks.

Jeff Tiberii: Problems started last month when the county department of social services began using a new software program. Steve Hayes with social services says there were significant delays in processing, applications and re-certifications.

Lavinia "Big Boss" Hensley
Leoneda Inge

The current state of the economy has shaken up countless careers, especially if you were in the housing construction business. But in a neighborhood outside High Point, one woman who used to build homes now uses her own home as a bakery. She said it was time to do the one thing she knew best and Big Boss Baking Company was born. Leoneda Inge has this report for our series, “Breaking into the Food Biz.”

Lavinia Hensley:  Hey come on in, how are you. You found us. See you weren’t too far.
Leoneda Inge: I know. I found it.

The state Agriculture Department is hosting its first Food Business Conference today in Alamance County.