A Culinary Celebration

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Durham Magazine and Chapel Hill Magazine hosted our second annual Taste festival, a four-day celebration of the area’s best food and drink. This carefully curated lineup of events focuses on bringing culinary and beverage experts together with their devoted diners, creating a space where guests can mingle with their favorite chef, brewer, bartender, farmer, distiller and food artisan, and perhaps discover a new favorite dish or drink as well! We were also proud to partner with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, and a portion of this year’s proceeds will be donated to the nonprofit.

A VIP Reception hosted by Andrea Reusing, 2011 James Beard Winner for Best Chef: Southeast, kicked off the six events, followed by the Grand Taste Experience at the Durham Armory, a cider dinner featuring Foggy Ridge Cider at Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Burger Smashdown at Fullsteam and Artisan Cocktail Dinner at The Cookery. The festival wrapped up with an intimate Roots of North Carolina Dinner at Watts Grocery. Stay tuned for information on next year’s events by visiting tastetheevent.com and following @tastetheevent. Here are just a few pics from Taste 2015:

(Photos by Emily Toth Photography)

VIP Reception

VIP Reception - Bar LusconiPrior to the Grand Taste Experience at the Durham Armory, James Beard winner Chef Andrea Reusing of Lantern hosted a VIP Reception at Bar Lusconi.

VIP Reception

VIP Reception - Andrea ReusingChef Andrea Reusing (center) with Grace and Mattie Beason.

VIP Reception

VIP Reception - Tea Cup GinTea Cup Gin supplied the tunes at the VIP Reception.

VIP Reception

VIP Reception - foodGuests at the VIP Reception were able to get a sneak peek of Andrea Reusing’s new menu at The Durham Hotel, where she is opening a restaurant/rooftop bar this year.

VIP Reception

VIP Reception - MacMerge Records co-founder and member of rock band Superchunk, Mac McCaughan.

Grand Taste Experience

Grand Taste - G2BG2B Restaurant and Brewery‘s Andrew Christenbury, Travis Robinson and Deric McGuffey and their “Vegetable Garden” at the Grand Taste Experience.

Grand Taste Experience

Grand Taste - OneTaylor Fish and Morgan Poteat sample ONE Restaurant‘s tequila passion fruit shot (in an egg!) with mochi doughnuts.

Grand Taste Experience

Grand Taste - JennaEschelon ExperiencesTara Zechini with Jenna Parks Olender of Southern Bride & Groom.

Grand Taste Experience

Grand Taste - AmyWatts Grocery Chef Amy Tornquist explains her Grand Taste dish, sorghum-braised pork belly over broccoli rabe, to a guest.

Grand Taste Experience

Grand Taste - Treat and AaronThe Carolina Theatre‘s Treat Harvey and Aaron Bare.

Grand Taste Experience

Grand TasteLauren Zedek, Amanda Oakes and Anne Heymann.

Grand Taste Experience

Grand Taste - Fida & RobertDave and Susan Ruch with Fida and Robert Ghanem, owners of Saladelia Cafe and The Mad Hatter’s Cafe and Bakeshop.

Grand Taste Experience

Grand Taste - SponsorMatthew Blaisdell and Christine McKeown of U.S. Foods.

Grand Taste Experience

Grand Taste - PeopleArin Lowe, Leah Fulkerson and Leann Jocius.

Foggy Ridge Cider Dinner

Cider DinnerGuests enjoyed cocktails out on the terrace at the Doris Duke Center in Sarah P. Duke Gardens prior to dinner.

Foggy Ridge Cider Dinner

Cider Dinner - SueFoggy Ridge Cider General Manager Sue Carter.

Foggy Ridge Cider Dinner

Cider bitesPassed hors d’oeuvres included this smoky eggplant spread and roasted beet Fatayer.

Foggy Ridge Cider Dinner

Cider Dinner - Crude BittersGuests had the option of either Marriage or Sycophant bitters by local Crude Bitters for their cider cocktails.

Foggy Ridge Cider Dinner

Cider Dinner - SoupSaltbox Seafood Joint‘s Chef Ricky Moore prepared the first course for the cider dinner: a carrot-vanilla soup with fattoush garnishes and sumac creme fraiche.

Foggy Ridge Cider Dinner

Cider Dinner - Chuck FlyntFoggy Ridge cider maker Chuck Flynt explains his choice pairing the first course with his First Fruit cider.

Foggy Ridge Cider Dinner

Cider Dinner ChefsSix Plates Wine Bar Chef John Eisensmith, along with Chef Ricky Moore, busy plating the second course, an olive-oil poached N.C. monkfish with smoked cheddar grits, asparagus, romesco, crispy shiitakes and lemon rosemary salt, created by Chef Eisensmith.

Foggy Ridge Cider Dinner

Cider DessertAnd for dessert … Chef Eisensmith’s lemon-blueberry pound cake French toast with cider-poached apples, ginger caramel, sage creme anglaise sphere and spiced pecans.

Burger Smashdown

Burger Smashdown Mattie BMattie B’s Public House‘s own Mattie Beason seasons his tots, the side item for his Mattie Melt slider, at Fullsteam for the Burger Smashdown.

Burger Smashdown

Burger Smashdown Tea Cup GinTea Cup Gin once again rocked the house at Fullsteam as guests enjoyed five burger and side combos from chefs at Mattie B’s, Tyler’s Taproom, Al’s Burger Shack, Buns and Only Burger.

Burger Smashdown

Burger Smashdown Rise DoughnutsMany guests enjoyed a Rise doughnut, like this chocolate cake with espresso buttercream, before helping themselves to the burgers!

Burger Smashdown

Burger SmashdownJudge's TableIt’s a hard job picking the winner of a Burger Smashdown. Judges (from right) Washington Duke Inn‘s Food and Beverage Director Don Ball with Mayor Bill Bell and his granddaughter, Aslan, chow down on their samples before rating their favorites.

Burger Smashdown

Burger Smashdown Tyler's Taproom burgersTyler’s Taproom won Judges’ Choice with their Old West Burger, topped with cheddar, bourbon barbecue sauce, onion strings, smoked bacon and garlic aioli.

Burger Smashdown

Burger SmashdownOnlyBurger burgersOnly Burger won People’s Choice with their Texan sliders of Piedmontese chuck topped with braised brisket, pepper jack cheese, an onion ring, pickled jalapenos and brisket jus, served on a Neomonde Bakery bun with a side of pickle chips.

Burger Smashdown

Burger SmashdownFullsteam’s Sean Lilly Wilson with Durham Magazine, Chapel Hill Magazine and Taste President Dan Shannon.

Artisan Cocktail Dinner

Artisan Cocktail Dinner - NanaSteak
Photo by Mackenzie Brough

Brad Weddington of NanaSteak pours a gin berry fizz: Beefeater gin, St. Germain, fresh lime juice, mixed berry puree, ginger simple syrup, club soda and fresh mint.

Artisan Cocktail Dinner

Photo by Mackenzie Brough
Photo by Mackenzie Brough

Shannon Healy created a non-alcoholic cocktail at the dinner using Alley Twenty Six‘s housemade tonic, which they are now bottling and selling at the bar.

Artisan Cocktail Dinner

Photo by Mackenzie Brough
Photo by Mackenzie Brough

Michelle and Brian Pruett, Kelly Leong and Chris Bobko.

Artisan Cocktail Dinner

Photo by Mackenzie Brough
Photo by Mackenzie Brough

Matt Lardie serves up a couple of Piedmont‘s Genuine Risks: Reposado tequila, Carpano Antica, Pineau des Charentes, smoked maple syrup and lemon.

Artisan Cocktail Dinner

Photo by Mackenzie Brough
Photo by Mackenzie Brough

Tiffany Brightman and Glen Rumsey of Arrow Hair Studio enjoying Olivia Gray‘s Marasca & Meyer cocktail.

Roots of N.C. Dinner

Photo by Briana Brough.
Photo by Briana Brough.
Our Taste weekend wrapped up with our Roots of North Carolina dinner at Watts Grocery. Chef Amy Tornquist created a menu based upon and inclusive of dishes that have been created, cultivated and perfected in North Carolina over the past two centuries.

Roots of N.C. Dinner

Photo by Briana Brough
Photo by Briana Brough
Braised Pork Belly with Sorghum Apples and Sweet Pickled Rhubarb.

Roots of N.C. Dinner

Photo by Briana Brough
Photo by Briana Brough

Amy and her team prepped the next course.

Roots of N.C. Dinner

Photo by Briana Brough
Photo by Briana Brough

Marcie Cohen Ferris – the author of The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region, published by UNC Press in September – gave a narrative of the history of North Carolina cuisine.

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Amanda MacLaren

Amanda MacLaren is the executive editor of Durham Magazine. Born in Mesa, Arizona, she grew up in Charlotte and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, majoring in journalism. She’s lived in Durham for eight years. When she’s not at work, you can usually find her with a beer in hand at Fullsteam, Dain’s Place or Bull City Burger or getting takeout from Guasaca.
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