Locals Well-Represented in 2010 Beard Award Semi-Finalists

February 18, 2010

Lots of local chefs and restaurants are represented in the 2010 Beard Award semi-finalists that were announced today, including Crook’s Corner, Magnolia Grill, Andrea Reusing, Ashley Christensen, Bill Smith and Scott Howell.  The finalists in each category will be announced on March 22.

The full list of semi-finalists are after the break.  Thanks to Andrea Weigl of the N&O for the info!

Read the rest of this entry »


Southern Folks and Southern Foodways

November 16, 2009
Ashley and Bill

Ashley Christensen, Bill Smith, and Smoked Chicken Wings

I’m sipping a cold beer on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, lazing about on a screened-in porch in rural Mississippi.  The conversation goes from football to Brazilian forestry camps and then to food.  Ah, the conversation always gets back to food, and that’s because I’m surrounded by chefs, who I’ve learned, love to “talk shop” more than just about any other professional I know.  These chefs include three winners of the prestigious James Beard Award, one who was recently nominated, and another who will likely win in the next few years.  Chefs love to talk about food, and so do I, so I feel right at home on this early November day. Read the rest of this entry »


Crook’s Corner Cooking Class Added to Silent Auction Items

May 18, 2009

crooksBill Smith, the Beard-nominated chef at the place where Southern cooking was re-born, Chapel Hill’s Crook’s Corner, has graciously donated a cooking class for 10 people for the Band Together silent auction on June 6.  The winner of this item and 9 of his or her friends will  cook in the restaurant’s kitchen on a Monday night this summer, where Smith will teach them how to make some of Crook’s classic dishes.  Alternatively, Smith could offer instruction on a single theme, such as the different ways to cook a duck (confit, pate’, roastd breast, etc.).  The winning bidder will work out the details with Smith.  And then everyone can taste their hard work in the bar area of Crook’s.

This is another example of the amazing generosity of the Triangle’s chefs in helping out the Lucy Daniels Center, the designated charity of Band Together.  Get your tickets now and bid on some great culinary experiences.


Way to Go, Bill!! You, Too, John!! And Kathi, Too!!

March 23, 2009

My buddy, Bill Smith, Chef of Chapel Hill’s Crook’s Corner, received a great honor today when he was named one of the five finalists for the James Beard Award‘s Best Chef  in the Southeast.   Another friend, John Currence of Oxford, Mississippi’s City Grocery, was nominated again for Best Chef in the South.  And Kathleen Purvis, the fantastic food editor of the Charlotte Observer got a nomination, too, for her piece, “The Belly of the Beast.”

I couldn’t be happier for all of these folks, as they are three of the kindest, most generous individuals in the world.  Bill Smith would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.  And Johnny Snack (as Currence is known) was the primary force in the re-building of Willie Mae Seaton’s Scotch House in New Orleans.  Kathi always has a great answer for me when I have a food question.

Additional congrats to Sean Brock of Charleston’s McGrady’s for his nomination as the Rising Star Chef, honoring those 30 and under, and Hugh Acheson of Athens, Georgia’s Five and Ten.  I’ve enjoyed tossing a few drinks back with these guys, too.

All of these folks are members of the Southern Foodways Alliance, the single best food organization in the country.  But more importantly, they’re my friends, they’re great people, and boy oh boy, I hope they win!


A Chef’s Blog

January 8, 2008

bill_photo.jpgBill Smith, the chef at Crook’s Corner, is a very good friend and one of the more interesting people you’ll ever meet. He rides his bicycle to work everyday. He travels to Quebec every year to celebrate his birthday. He has gotten so close to his Mexican kitchen staff that he now takes at least one trip to Mexico each year. He keeps a notebook of just about everything he’s ever done. He co-founded the Cat’s Cradle (and still loves to go hear live music). He’s really a great cook and wrote one of the best cookbooks in the past year, Seasoned in the South. Bill and I traveled the Mississippi Delta back in October, looking for great hot tamales. He was a great travel companion, full of fantastic stories. Recently, he’s started something new: he’s a blogger! His blog, A Year in the Kitchen, gives a great perspective of his world — not just the ins and outs of running a restaurant, but the world around him — his staff, his family and his friends.

So check out Bill’s blog. And don’t be afraid to comment there, either.


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