As a new year begins, we want to suggest a few of the positive things we see around the state:
•Women in the kitchen.
When other areas of the country lament the lack of female chefs, they should look at North Carolina. We have James Beard Award winners – yes, two! – Ashley Christensen of Raleigh and Andrea Reusing of Chapel Hill, James Beard finalist Katie Button of Asheville and semifinalists Phoebe Lawless of Durham and Vivian Howard of Kinston. In North Carolina, female chefs haven’t just cracked the glass ceiling in the kitchen – they’ve melted it and kept right on going.
Heritage breeds of pigs, cattle and chickens, farm-raised cheeses, organic and sustainably raised vegetables. We even have caviar, from Lenoir’s Atlantic Caviar and Sturgeon. The economic crash of 2008 slowed the growth of the local-food movement, but now that wallets are beginning to open again, there’s a lot of great food to buy.
•Seasonal, sustainable seafood.
There’s a push to bring seafood from the North Carolina coast to inland restaurants and consumers, thanks to the likes of Rock Stone in China Grove, Tim Griner in Charlotte, Lin Peterson and Ryan Speckman of Locals Seafood in Raleigh and others. These men are helping educate chefs and shoppers about the importance of eating seafood seasonally and helping fishermen’s financial viability by eating lesser-known species.nccatch.org.
•The stratospheric growth of breweries.
It’s making our state one of the best places in the country for beer. There are now more than 120 breweries, with 45 more on the horizon. Several won medals at the World Beer Cup, held every other year in Denver, including a gold medal in the very competitive American IPA category for Hop Drop ’N Roll from Charlotte’s NoDa Brewing. The best American IPA in the country made right here? Believe it.
Other notable showings include Wake Forest’s White Street Brewing received a gold medal for its Kolsch-Style Ale and Raleigh’s Lynnwood Brewing Concern received a silver medal for its Once You Go, an American-style Black Ale.
•Excellent publications stepping up food coverage.
Both Edible Piedmont and Edible Charlotte are doing solid coverage of local food and featuring articles by excellent writers. Our State magazine, based in Greensboro, also has increased its food coverage and often features food stories on its cover.