CO Restaurant (Facebook)
By Sean Lennard, Triangle Food Guy
Raleigh, N.C. — Folks, this is a big deal. Raleigh’s own Ashley Christensen is a finalist for outstanding chef in the country at the annual James Beard Foundation awards. The awards are often referred to as "The Oscars of Food," and the Triangle has a legacy of taking home honors. Finalists were announced this past Wednesday. Christensen owns Poole’s, Death and Taxes, Beasley’s, Chuck’s and the soon to open, Poolside Pizza. She is also a previous James Beard winner, taking home the award for best chef in the southeast in 2014. A nod also to chef Vivian Howard who was nominated for best host for her work on PBS’ "A Chef’s Life." Winners will be announced in May.
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Q&A with Raleigh chef Ashley Christensen
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Wake County Restaurant News
We told you about this last week, but WRAL updated us that CO restaurant, featuring a modern take on traditional Southeast Asian cuisine, will open for dinner this Saturday, March 17 at 101 Park at North Hills Street in North Hills. They are situated street level at the AC Hotel North Hills and will be holding a soft opening starting 5 p.m. Saturday. The official grand opening with lunch and dinner service daily will be Monday, March 26, with regular business hours beginning at 11 a.m.
Saw a tweet earlier this week from the Glenwood South Neighborhood Collaborative that NY Bagel Cafe & Deli opened yesterday (Thursday, but please call before going to be sure) at 301 Glenwood Ave. It is located in the same building as Plates and Sushi Blues. Apparently they have locations all over the country, with two more planned for the Triangle market. Get familiar with the concept here.
While they have been open for a while now, the folks over at Chronic Tacos will hold their grand opening on Saturday, March 24 at their Raleigh location at 9424 Falls of the Neuse Road (same shopping center as Sprouts Farmers Market). The event will include a special appearance by TV personality Wee Man, live music, a taco eating contest and the opportunity for the first fifty attendees to win free tacos for a year.
Down in Zebulon, got word from reader Jeanette Hauser that Southland Steakhouse opened last week at 1007 Shepard School Rd. Menu looks like you would expect at a steakhouse – prime rib, steaks, entrees, sandwiches, salads and soups. Get familiar with them on Facebook here.
Durham, Orange & Chatham Restaurant News
Beer drinking has gone to the dogs over in Durham. Literally. This week saw the opening of Barley Labs, the first dog-focused bar in Durham where people can bring their furry best friends to sit, stay and sip. The new shop features a bar serving craft beer, indoor and outdoor seating, bottled beer and growler fills for off-site consumption, and retail shelves filled with gifts for dog and beer lovers.
Reader Corina May notified us that a new Korean BBQ joint called Itaewon Grill is opening next Monday, March 19, on Erwin Road in the former Hungry Leaf spot. Congratulations to owner Jay Park.
Also learned this week that a little bakery called Crumbs is "coming soon" to the Bull City featuring made from scratch vegan pastries and desserts. Currently they are offered at various events in the area.
Durham’s Northgate Mall announced this week the opening of Vegan Flava Café, a 100 percent hand-crafted vegan hand-crafted comfort food café. It is owned by and operated by husband and wife team Yah-I Tow and Maat Amen Bruton who re-located the café to the Shops at Northgate (1720 Guess Road) from their former South Square Durham location.
Northgate Mall also announced that Simon and Lingere Camara have opened a second location of Carolina BBQ & Chicken (also in Creedmoor) in the food court. The menu includes signature baked, barbecued and fried chicken and barbecue pulled pork.
And in Chapel Hill, the lovely and talented Lori Bowers-Lennard noticed this week that a concept called Meet Fresh, featuring Taiwanese desserts and teas, is coming into the former Five Guys location in Meadowmont. This is the first east coast location for the international franchise. No word on an open date, but I’ll ask Mrs. Lennard to keep an eye on it.
Got word from reader Will Cannon that the Cary location of Little Caesar’s at 203 E Chatham St (corner of E. Chatham and N. Walker) has closed. No word yet on what might go into that space.
Got word from readers Kevin Carpenter and Craig Rothwell and confirmed by WRAL that after four years in business, German Grille in Cary will close its doors this weekend.
The next Wake Forest Food Truck Rodeo will be held on Sunday, April 8 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Over the Falls shopping center located at 405 S. Brooks St. If you can’t make that, future rodeo dates are June 24 and Oct. 28.
The Knightdale Food Truck Thursdays will be back in full swing come April 19. Trucks will be on hand for lunch and dinner each Thursday at the Knightdale Station Park. Get a full schedule and truck listing on their website here. Thanks to Mark Ginsberg for the heads up.
Art Sheppard, the Wandering Sheppard, noted that the date has been set for the next edition of Rodeo on Rosemary over in Chapel Hill. This year it will take place on April 22 at 12 noon featuring 15 of the best trucks in the Triangle.
Two great sites to keep up with your favorite food trucks. Street Food Finder is one, and another, aptly named, is Roaming Hunger.
March 17 is the date for the second annual Food Shuttle Garden Gallop 5K to benefit the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Growing School Gardens program (better known as the Sean is Faster Than Gordon race). If I can do it, you can do it! Come on out and support a great cause.
The Indy brought it to our attention that the Bull City Vegan Challenge will return to Durham for the fifth time in April (kicks off April 1), with chefs at ten downtown meat-centric restaurants creating specialty plant-based dishes that their menus will carry throughout the month, culminating in a competition decided by diners’ votes. This year’s participants, all full-service restaurants, are: Dos Perros, Parizade, Pompieri, M Kokko, Juju, Guglhupf, Counting House, Jack Tar Diner, Unscripted, and Grub.
Durham Magazine, Chapel Hill Magazine and Chatham Magazine return with their popular culinary event, Taste, to take place April 18-22 highlighting culinary talents. The event will feature over 30 of the area’s top chefs at four unique events throughout the week.
Tickets have gone on sale for Thrive NC set to take place at downtown Raleigh’s City Market on May 10-11. The two-day event, presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina will highlight the fact that 1.5 million people in the state struggle to buy affordable and fresh foods. A highlight of the event will be a two-day food festival featuring top chefs from 50 North Carolina restaurants serving food and drink samples against a backdrop of live music each night. All ticket sale proceeds will be donated to North Carolina nonprofits that address issues related to food insecurity.
And the 2018 version of Farm to Fork expanded to three events over several seasons and tickets to all three just went on sale. The fun begins with the first event on June 3, the perennial favorite Farm to Fork Picnic, where the area’s best farmers and chefs are paired. Then on Sept. 16 they’ll host a pop-up dinner featuring Jacob Boehm of Snap Pea Underground & Catering. And the series will conclude on Dec. 6 with John T. Edge and a celebration of Southern food on Chapel Hill’s Lavender Oak Farm. You can buy ticket to each individual event, or all three.
The 2018 version of Chefs for Change, a fundraising dinner series that pairs the burgeoning Durham food scene with the needs of families experiencing homelessness, is well underway. The first two events (featuring Charlie Deal on March 12 and Scott Howell on May 14) have sold out. And if last year is any indication, the next two dinners will sell out quickly. The July 9th event features Phoebe Lawless (The Lakewood and Scratch) and the Sept. 10 event features Gocciolina’s Aaron Benjamin. Each night the chef will serve three or more courses at a ticketed dinner with the proceeds benefiting Families Moving Forward. The dinners are held at the Rickhouse and limited to 125 people.
Go ahead and mark your calendars and get your tickets for the Food Bank’s Chef’s Feast at Fearrington Village coming up on March 22. Four renowned chefs will prepare and serve favorite recipes through four courses in an intimate environment. Guests will enjoy beverage pairings, an opportunity to bid on unique auction items, and learn more about what the Food Bank and its partner agencies are doing in the community for those facing food insecurity.
Sean Lennard covers the Triangle food scene on his site Triangle Food Blog.