North Carolina at The James Beard Awards 2014

James Beard Award - North Carolina. Covering all aspects of the industry—from chefs and restaurateurs to cookbook authors and food journalists to restaurant designers and architects and more—the Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America.

North Carolina at The James Beard Awards 2014 • The James Beard Foundation has announced the 2014 restaurant and chef semifinalists for the 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards and twelve North Carolina Chefs, Restaurants, and Restaurateurs figure prominently. Congratulations to the following JBF Awards Semifinalists from North Carolina. You make North Carolina Proud!

“Covering all aspects of the industry—from chefs and restaurateurs to cookbook authors and food journalists to restaurant designers and architects and more—the Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America. The awards are presented each spring at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. Nominees and winners are fêted at a weekend of events in New York City that has become the social and gastronomic highlight of the year.”  ~ The James Beard Foundation

BEST CHEF: SOUTHEAST
North Carolina • The James Beard AwardsVivian Howard, Chef & the Farmer, Kinston, NC
Vivian Howard, Chef & the Farmer, Kinston, NC • “In 2005, Vivian, and her now husband, Ben Knight decided to return to Vivian’s roots to open a farm to fork restaurant in the small town of Kinston, NC. They opened Chef & the Farmer in the summer of 2006 serving local, seasonal, creative cuisine. Over the past four years, Chef Howard has developed strong relationships with local farmers making it possible to source over 70% of the restaurant’s foodstuffs from within 60 miles. Chef and the Farmer has become beloved by locals and a destination for diners all over the state. Chef Vivian Howard is also the star of “A Chef’s Life” on PBS, currently the top rated food series on PBS • “Much more dynamic than a typical cooking show, A Chef’s Life is a character-driven documentary and cooking series, broadcasting nationally on PBS stations.”
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North Carolina • The James Beard AwardsAshley Christensen, Poole’s Diner, Raleigh, NC
Ashley Christensen, Poole’s Diner, Raleigh, NC • “In its latest incarnation Poole’s has returned to its diner roots under the ownership of Chef Ashley Christensen. Marrying a clean aesthetic with retro-chic charm, Christensen restored and highlighted the “bones” of the original restaurant, including the double horseshoe bar and red leather banquettes, pairing it with modern elements like Lucite chairs, and oversized blackboard menus that change daily based on season and availability.”
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North Carolina • The James Beard AwardsScott Crawford, Herons at the Umstead Hotel and Spa, Cary, NC
Scott Crawford, Herons at the Umstead Hotel and Spa, Cary, NC • “The refinement experienced at The Umstead Hotel and Spa fine dining in Raleigh, NC is reflected in every bite of the property’s posh dining experiences including Herons, The Umstead Bar and banquets. That’s due to Executive Chef Scott Crawford’s ability to spin the smallest details into culinary gold.  Crawford serves a dual role as food and beverage director, combining his love of the dining room with his allure in the kitchen. The Pennsylvania native has made a name for himself in the South, cooking across most of the region, blazing a trail of culinary prestige everywhere he’s worked. “
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North Carolina • The James Beard AwardsColin Bedford, The Fearrington House Restaurant, Pittsboro, NC
Colin Bedford, The Fearrington House Restaurant, Pittsboro, NC • “Chef Colin Bedford’s exceptional menus have won over loyal diners at Fearrington House, and won critical acclaim, including The Fearrington House nationally ranking as No. 2 of the top 40 hotels in the south, No. 5 in the US and No. 24 of the 100 hotels in the world by Condé Nast Traveler, one of the top hotel food destinations in the world by Condé Nast Traveler and, locally, a Gold Medalist restaurant in 2011 and 2012 by the Raleigh News & Observer. The Fearrington House Inn and Restaurant are also one of only two inn and restaurant combinations in the U.S. to have the Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond award for both. In 2012 Chef Bedford was named a Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef and he was invited to cook at the annual Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef Dinner held in London, England.”
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North Carolina • The James Beard AwardsScott Howell, Nana’s, Durham, NC
Scott Howell, Nana’s, Durham, NC • “A native of Asheville with a deep, family based love of food, Howell’s dishes are sublime yet simple. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America, he brought his curiosity, energy and his genteel manners to the New York culinary world. Upon graduation from the CIA he did his internship at such notable restaurants as Jam’s and Arcadia.The quest for culinary perfection led Howell to Italy where he worked for a year at the prestigious San Domenico.”
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North Carolina • The James Beard AwardsAaron Vandemark, Panciuto, Hillsborough, NC
Aaron Vandemark, Panciuto, Hillsborough, NC • “Elevator phobia had me walking down eighteen flights of stairs, loosening my tie, still jittery from the anxiety of quitting my job.  As I crossed the threshold of the shiny building with the fancy lobby out into the Georgia summer, I knew I’d never again wear a suit to work.  I had two hours before I had to be at my second job, opening beers and pouring wine on a restaurant patio bar, so I went and had a messy cheeseburger and a chocolate milkshake and I didn’t care if I spilled on my clothes.  I wouldn’t need them again.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, I had just passed the proverbial fork in the road and at the tine’s end, beyond the juicy remnants of lunch’s cheeseburger, would be long hours, crappy pay, risk, reward, and purpose. Nine years later I opened Panciuto where you’ll still find me in the kitchen, day and night.”
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North Carolina • The James Beard AwardsMeherwan Irani, Chai Pani, Asheville, NC, Photo Credit: Mountain BizWorks www.mountainbizworks.org
Meherwan Irani, Chai Pani, Asheville, NC • “Meherwan grew up in Ahmadnagar, India and learned to cook at his mother’s side. He came to the US in 1990 to earn his MBA and for 15 years had a successful career in sales & marketing in the San Francisco Bay Area. While being exposed to some of the best restaurants on the West Coast he fell in love with the culinary arts and started to develop his cooking skills at every opportunity. Chai Pani is the brain child of husband & wife, Meherwan & Molly Irani. Meherwan is the executive chef & chief chaiwalla and the visionary behind the concept & menu. Molly directs the front of the house and is the creative & artistic force that brought the concept to a vibrant reality.”
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North Carolina • The James Beard AwardsMatt Kelly, Mateo, Durham, NC, Photo Credit: Juli Leonard, The News & Observer
Matt Kelly, Mateo, Durham, NC • “MATEO BAR de TAPAS is the first solo venture from chef Matthew Kelly of Vin Rouge, housed in the old Book Exchange building in the heart of downtown Durham. Featuring a menu that blends the flavors of Spain with beloved ingredients and dishes of the South. We offer a casual, yet refined, menu of Spanish small plates with a Southern inflection. Accompanying the food is a robust Spanish wine list as well as one of the largest sherry offerings in the country.”
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RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR
North Carolina • The James Beard AwardsKatie Button, Cúrate, Asheville, NC
Katie Button, Cúrate, Asheville, NC • “In 2007, Katie Button, Cornell University graduate with a master’s degree from L’Ecole Centrale in Paris, France, was about to start a prestigious PhD program in Neuroscience between the NIH in Bethesda, MD, and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Instead she decided to drop out of the PhD program in pursuit of passion, life, and happiness. Food had always been an important part of her childhood. Her mother, Elizabeth Button, developed and ran her own catering business. So, Katie was well-acquainted with the restaurant industry. In order to support herself and pay the rent on her apartment in Washington DC, she sought out a job at a restaurant called Cafe Atlantico/Minibar in Washington DC one of José Andrés’ amazing restaurants. Katie describes it as fate that brought her to the doorstep of a José Andrés restaurant.”
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OUTSTANDING PASTRY CHEF
North Carolina • The James Beard AwardsPhoebe Lawless, Scratch, Durham, NC
Phoebe Lawless, Scratch, Durham, NC • “Scratch provides quality driven, hand-crafted food. We support and nurture relationships with our local farmers and producers and are proud to be a part of Durham’s growing vibrant food community. Scratch is a seasonal bakery that chooses the finest ingredients to provide its customers with the best product possible. This means that every time you walk through the door, you will find the best new foods that each season has to offer, and you will be supporting local farms, producers and businesses.”
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OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT
North Carolina • The James Beard AwardsThe Fearrington House Restaurant, Pittsboro, NC
The Fearrington House Restaurant, Pittsboro, NC • “The intimate dining rooms within the white-columned Fearrington House, located near Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh, NC, welcome guests celebrating special moments. It’s here that Executive Chef Colin Bedford continues a commitment to exceptional farm-to-fork cuisine. Celebrate a special occasion, whether an anniversary or birthday, or any of life’s milestones. The menu changes seasonally, and once a dish leaves the menu, it never comes back, as Chef Bedford and his team are constantly creating anew. We are pleased to be the only AAA Five Diamond restaurant in the U.S. to be Green Certified and to have been ranked a top 10 restaurant in America, based on more than two million reviews by OpenTable diners”
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OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR
North Carolina • The James Beard AwardsGiorgios Bakatsias, Giorgios Hospitality Group, Durham, NC
Giorgios Bakatsias, Giorgios Hospitality Group, Durham, NC • “Since 1987, Giorgio Bakatsias has been the creative force behind more than thirty fine dining restaurants, food venues, and gourmet markets. His incredible gift of vision for the customer experience – along with his intuitive sense of cutting-edge trends in dining, and his international talent for menu composition- has resulted in legendary praise both from local and national food critics. Now, a world renowned Restaurateur, Giorgios acquired his love of cooking at his mother´s stove in the quiet village of Karista, Greece. At the age of 12, George immigrated to the United States with his family to pursue the American Dream of success. His parents’ enterprise, a small diner above which they lived, was his introduction to Durham and the American way-of-life.”
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Covering all aspects of the industry—from chefs and restaurateurs to cookbook authors and food journalists to restaurant designers and architects and more—the Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America.
The finalists will be announced on March 19, 2014, and be determined by an independent panel of more than 600 judges from across the United States, who select the final five nominees in each category. From there, The 2014 James Beard Awards will be held in New York City on May 2nd and 5th, 2014.

The Mast Farm Inn is an award-winning historic country inn & restaurant in the Valle Crucis Historical District of North Carolina, which has been welcoming guests since the 1800s. The Mast Farm Inn is a Historic Hotels of America hotel, a Select Registry Inn, and is on The National Register of Historic Places.
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The Mast Farm Inn is an award-winning historic country inn, in the Valle Crucis Historical District of North Carolina, which has been welcoming guests since the 1800s. The Mast Farm Inn is a Historic Hotels of America hotel, a Select Registry Inn, and is on The National Register of Historic Places.

The Mast Farm Inn, Historic North Carolina Country Inn & Restaurant, Valle Crucis, NC