Chefs are like rock stars and athletes. They switch from place to place, working their way up the food-service pyramid. A writer pal of mine, Ann Prospero, has interviewed the best chefs in my area of North Carolina in her “Chefs of the Triangle: Their Lives, Recipes, and Restaurants.” We learn how they moved up, over, and around to become forces in food. We’re even treated to a few recipes from each.
Ann, by the way, is a wise author — for her book signings, she brings along chefs, and they bring along samples.
The reading I went to, at Regulator Bookshop, featured Durham restaurateurs Jim Anile from Revolution, not yet a year old but buzz-worthy, and Shane Ingram, whose celebrated Four Square Restaurant turns an impressive 10 years old this month. It was great to hear them talk about their work and even better to sample their wares — fig gazpacho from Shane (the recipe is in the book) and, from Jim, butterbean hummus crustini with marinated octopus. Yum!
While I realize most of my readers live far from my home state, you should know that we have some mighty fine restaurants here in Durham and environs. In 2008, Bon Appetit magazine rightly named us “America’s Foodiest Small Town,” although they were talking about two towns, Durham and Chapel Hill, but whatever. We’ll take it.
As Ann points out, it was the late chef Bill Neal of Crook’s Corner who really got the dough rolling by mentoring and inspiring others, who in turn did the same thing for their colleagues in the kitchen. Crook’s is still going strong under chef and cookbook writer Bill Smith, a culinary force in his own right. Lucky us!