Taste the Event Launch Party
Last night was the official kick off and launch party for Taste 2015 – a series of delicious events that celebrates food & drink in North Carolina, from the budding craft hard cider industry to a good old-fashioned burger cook-off competition to a Grand Taste Experience. Dan Shannon, publisher of Durham Magazine and Chapel Hill Magazine, spoke while guests enjoys bites from the students at the Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham at American Tobacco Campus. We can’t wait for the delightful treats that are in store for us during Taste! If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, don’t miss out on this exciting foodie festival.
In one short week, Triangle foodies and talented local chefs will gather for a four-day food festival hosted by our friends at Durham Magazine and Chapel Hill Magazine.
The Triangle’s nationally ascendant food culture will be on display during Taste 2015. Beginning with the Grand Taste Experience on Thursday, April 23, food lovers from across the region will experience a weekend of indulgence unsurpassed in the South. Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy anything and everything important in local North Carolina cuisine, from the budding craft hard cider industry to a good old-fashioned burger cook-off competition. Every event focuses on local chefs, restaurants and producers, ensuring that all guests will enjoy a strong representation of the food culture offered in North Carolina.
Leading up to the event, Southern Bride & Groom has shared a series of Q&A’s from some restaurants and caterers that are part of the SB&G family and who will be taking part in TASTE 2015, including Il Palio, Herons at the Umstead Hotel and Spa, Basan, and today, The Carolina Inn and Crossroads restaurant.
Chef James Clark, who spearheads the kitchen and catering at the Inn, specializes in sustainable dining serving locally grown “farm-to-table” seafood, meats and vegetables. His individual style is inspired by local, Southern influences infused with modern techniques.
We spoke with the team at The Carolina Inn to get a sense of their upcoming renovations, their most popular dishes, and, of course, what they will be serving guests at the Grand Taste Experience next week.
The Carolina Inn: The Carolina Inn’s restaurant and bar will be completely renovated this summer. The entire footprint will change so that we can be more flexible with the space and have the chance to utilize it for catering events. We will still have the Piedmont Room, which will now include doors out to the patio. The North Parlor will become part of the restaurant as well, and will have the ability to be a private dining room, too. The new concept will be regional new American, meaning that we will be utilizing Southern growers, catchers, raisers and makers cooking their passions into approachable contemporary dishes.
The Carolina Inn: We are all one team! The new space will definitely allow us to be able to offer creative experiences for wedding or rehearsal parties. The Piedmont Room, for instance, will allow a wedding group to use the outside patio for their cocktail hour and then easily move inside for dinner.
SB&G: What are the most popular menu items at Carolina Inn weddings?
The Carolina Inn: Some of the most popular items for a wedding are the classics, such as shrimp and grits stations, carved beef tenderloin and plated filet and crab cake combo. We have seen a rise in popularity for our Biscuit Bar for receptions, which is buttermilk biscuits and sweet potato biscuits with toppings such as pimento cheese, braised short rib, hot honey chicken or pulled pork BBQ.
The Carolina Inn: Our brides love customized menus, which we are happy to provide. Everything from an exquisite wine tasting progressive menu to interactive chef stations. We always seek to find a way for couples to use out talents to “wow” their guests. Lately, we have been offering a do-it-yourself s’mores bar, and people seem to love it!
SB&G: What menu item are you most excited to feature at TASTE this year?
The Carolina Inn: At the 2015 Grand Taste Experience, we are excited to showcase our chilled sweet corn soup with tomato relish and smoked shrimp.
Southern Bride & Groom is excited to kick off baseball season and Opening Day at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park with Robin and John’s fun sports-themed engagement session! This year marks the 20th anniversary of the well-known Minor League ballpark in Durham, NC, which, along with the American Tobacco Campus, served as the backdrop for this adorable baseball inspired photo shoot captured by Red Boat Photography.
Robin and John met on Match.com and met in person for the first time at Poole’s diner in Raleigh, NC – which is also where John proposed to Robin. John planned a date to Poole’s, and ahead of time, he arranged for the restaurant staff to write on the chalkboard menu, “Robin will you marry me?” The couple was seated right in front of the menu that night. After a few minutes deliberating what she wanted to order, Robin realized what was really on the menu that night and John got down on one knee.
The couple chose the Durham Bulls stadium and the American Tobacco Campus for their engagement session photographs because sports was something they quickly bonded over. Their second date after meeting at Poole’s Diner was at Tobacco Road, which overlooks the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Both families are avid baseball watchers, so they knew the ballpark was a perfect fit for their backgrounds and their relationship. Plus, it made for a fun location with many unique photo opportunities!
Basan is the newest restaurant in the Eschelon Experiences group, bringing modern Japanese cuisine and fresh sushi to the Bull City. Its convenient downtown location at the American Tobacco Campus makes it the perfect place to catch a bite before a show at DPAC or a Bull’s game.
Head Chef Toshio Sakamaki is a master of preparing fish and vegetables. He was born in Tokyo Japan where his father worked as a sushi chef and owned a sushi restaurant. He brings years of culinary expertise to Eschelon Experiences and showcases his mastery at Basan.
We spoke with the team at Basan about the local food scene, their private dining and event space, and what people can expect from Chef Sakamaki at the Grand Taste Experience on April 23, 2015. Beginning with the Grand Taste Experience, food lovers from across the region will experience a weekend of indulgence unsurpassed in the South.
Organized by our friends at Durham Magazine and Chapel Hill Magazine, Taste the Event is a charitable local food festival located in and around the Triangle area of North Carolina, which encompasses Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. The festival includes a variety of events, from intimate dinners for a few to large tastings for a crowd, with a portion of the proceeds donated to the Durham Branch of the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. Top culinary talent from the surrounding area, including chefs, restaurateurs, beverage purveyors and other local companies are featured in some of the region’s most stunning event settings.
Basan: Many locals are starting passion projects, paying homage to food they love and want to create every day for guests, for example, Ashley Christensen’s group, Van from Bida Manda, and the guys from Stanbury.
What is your cooking philosophy or favorite type of food to cook?
Basan: Our culinary director, John Anderson, loves to cook Mexican food and we really appreciate his view on cooking. He enjoys cooking with less expensive ingredients that take more time and care. Anyone can cook a steak and add truffles and it will be delicious, but he thinks it’s fun to celebrate inexpensive and make them delicious, such as field peas, pork cheek, collards, etc. We love this celebration of simple and tasty items.
Basan: We definitely like to feature trends in our cocktails, infusing crazy ingredients and flavor profiles into our signature drinks. Our food menus typically stay true to the theme of the restaurant and we feature trends in seasonal exclusive dinners or weekly signature feature items. We encourage our chefs to get creative every day so there is always something “off menu” for our guests to try.
SB&G: How has Head Chef Toshio Sakamaki enjoyed the transition to Basan and the process of being onboard for a restaurant opening?
Basan: Chef Sakamaki really enjoyed getting to learn the Eschelon processes and culture at Mura before getting the new restaurant open. I think opening Basan was especially enjoyable because he was able to craft a whole new menu from scratch, just as he desired it to be.
SB&G: How will the new private event space in Basan cater to special events like bridal/bachelorette parties or family/rehearsal dinners?
Basan: The new private dining room will seat up to 40 guests and can accommodate upwards of 80 guests for a cocktail-style function. It’s a fun, modern space with great light and huge windows. We think it will be a fun new choice for all events from rehearsal dinners to bridal parties because the furniture and layout are so flexible. Basan has a full-time event coordinator on staff to help make sure everything runs smoothly and makes the booking process a breeze for our guests.
SB&G: What is your approach to planning menus for weddings and/or special events?
Basan: We have some great pre-set options, but we love tailoring things to the host’s tastes. It has been fun to create special sushi rolls named for the couple at wedding caterings, or custom cocktails with signature colors at special events.
SB&G: What are your plans and involvement in TASTE this year?
Basan: Basan is so new in town; we want to showcase some of our signature items and let everyone meet Head Chef Toshio Sakamaki. He comes from Japan and is carrying on the family tradition of being a sushi chef. Toshio has so much passion for what he does and it shows in his food. We’ll definitely showcase some sort of sushi to give everyone a taste of what we’re best at delivering every day. We can’t wait for everyone to meet our Head Chef and taste what Basan has to offer!Photos: Terrence Jones
This week, we continue coverage on some of the chefs participating in the upcoming TASTE event in Durham, NC (April 23-26). Last week, we shared an interview with Chef Teddy Diggs of Il Palio and this week, we’re happy to reveal some insight from executive chef Steven Devereaux Greene of The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, NC.
Chef Greene is responsible for all of the hotel’s food and beverage operations, including Herons restaurant, The Bar & Lounge and catering. During his post as chef de cuisine, Greene guided Herons to its first Forbes Five Star rating. For a brief period, he honed his skills as executive chef of Cary’s An New World Cuisine (An), before returning to manage The Umstead’s culinary operations in 2014.
Learn more about this renowned Chef’s favorite eats, special offerings for weddings and other events at The Umstead and Herons Restaurant, and the delightful dish Chef Greene will be showcasing at the 2015 Grand Taste Experience!
Chef Greene: The growth and activity in downtown Raleigh has been exciting to watch unfold – our region is truly transforming into a food destination.
SB&G: What are some of your favorite Triangle area restaurants?
Chef Greene: Some of my favorites are [ONE] Restaurant in Chapel Hill; Vin Rouge in Durham; Mateo Bar de Tapas in Durham; Yuri in Cary, and Fearrington House Restaurant in Pittsboro.
Chef Greene: I am inspired by the seasons and the ever-changing availability of products. I also find inspiration in my travels to different parts of the world and visiting top restaurants.
Chef Greene: I’m most excited about a soup course on our spring Herons dinner menu: violet potato soup with caviar, lemon, bulgur wheat, brown butter and white chocolate. The presentation is so unique and the pairing of white chocolate and caviar is gastronomically perfect.
SB&G: What are some of the ways the hotel works with Herons to provide a unique experience for weddings and events?
Chef Greene: Truly, all of our banquet events are inspired by the service and cuisine of Herons. We incorporate tableside elements, such as poured soup. We also offer a unique oyster presentation where we pour a liquid nitrogen broth tableside, which always leaves an impression on diners.
We’ve also unveiled a new Intimate Wedding Package for small weddings of 12 or less people, which includes a four-course dinner with wine pairings in the Herons Private Dining Room. This provides an elevated experience for even the smallest of weddings!
Chef Greene: Strolling receptions are becoming more prevalent. Our BBQ pit station and taco stand are by far the most popular selections. For plated dinners, brides and their families are always blown away by the presentation of the soup course as well as the ever-popular filet mignon and lobster entrée.
SB&G: What menu item/s are you most excited to feature at TASTE this year?
Chef Greene: I’m excited to be participating in the Grand Taste Event with my chef de cuisine John Childers. We will be bringing the new and intriguing menu item I mentioned above (violet potato soup with caviar and white chocolate). We can’t wait to show TASTE guests this beautiful dish!