Celebrate North Carolina’s culinary leaders.
By Hope S. Philbrick
With its inaugural Chef & Maker weekend, Pinehurst proved that it really has mastered the art of the hole in one.
The famed North Carolina resort and golf haven launched its new Chef & Maker culinary series just this year; the kick-off in May showcased Chef Clark Barlowe of Heirloom Restaurant in Charlotte.
The weekend was so skillfully executed and well-orchestrated it came off as gracefully as a hole in one.
Better yet, the game’s not over, folks!: Two additional Chef & Maker weekends are already scheduled this year, featuring James Beard Award-winning Chef Ashley Christensen of Raleigh, July 7-9, and James Beard nominated Chef Katie Button of Asheville, September 15-17.
Plan to swing into Pinehurst on these weekends if you’re a fan of the culinary arts.
What To Expect…
The Chef & Maker series was created to celebrate North Carolina’s best chefs and culinary artisan producers. Plan to feast upon a range of state-grown ingredients and state-produced products, as well as be introduced to a range of North Carolina arts, goods and services.
While each weekend has its own schedule, all include interactive demonstrations, informative workshops and chef dinners.
A Friday night kick-off dinner by the Pinehurst culinary team features dishes inspired by the cuisine of the featured chef.
On Saturday meet with culinary artisans, watch the featured chef demonstrate a recipe or more, and enjoy a lunch and dinner crafted by that chef.
In between sessions, relax on the Pinehurst property and enjoy a wine range of amenities including the famed golf course, lawn bowling, crochet, luxury spa, hiking trails, tennis courts, swimming pools, kayaking on a private lake, shopping, bicycles, and more.
Chef Clark Barlowe…
At his Saturday evening chef’s dinner, Barlowe achieved what might seem impossible: He got me excited about lettuce.
Before the first course was served he came out of the kitchen into the dining room to explain that the salad about to be served featured the first 30 heads of heirloom ice queen lettuce harvested in North Carolina since the seed was rescued.
We were about to feast on a relative to iceberg lettuce that was nearly extinct but now making a comeback, thanks to the efforts of caring farmers at Rogue Farm. For a foodie, that sort of once-in-a-lifetime experience is a thrill.
The simple salad was crisp and impressed with its balance of bitter and savory flavors.
The rest of that dinner featured North Carolina barbecue shrimp with savory hushpuppies, a duck confit with mustard spätzle and foraged morel mushrooms that just about everyone in the dining room declared as the best thing they’d ever eaten, and Cheerwine (North Carolina cherry soda) pound cake.
By the Saturday evening chef’s dinner, those of us who participated in the full weekend program understood Barlowe’s approach to cooking, since earlier that afternoon at a demonstration luncheon he talked while he cooked…as our mouths watered in anticipation then savored each presented morsel. Lunch started with a wild green bisque made of foraged greens including sumac and ramps, followed with a pinecone and pine needle brined golden tilefish with chili-roasted fiddlehead ferns, then finished with a strawberry angel food cake based on his grandmother’s recipe. Each bite managed to seem better than the previous one.
“There are right and wrong ways to forage,” Barlowe said while holding up a handful of ramps. “I fear ramps will go extinct in my lifetime,” he revealed, adding that too many people harvest the roots along with the greens and demand is outpacing supply of this wild Appalachian treat. While he adores wild ingredients, “We can’t all serve the same thing and stay sustainable.”
At his Heirloom Restaurant, Barlowe sources “everything we possibly can from North Carolina—from the salt on the table to the soap in the bathroom.”
“To me ‘local’ means supporting my community,” he explained. So while he buys as much as he can from North Carolina producers, you might find other Southern ingredients on his menu once in awhile. More often, though, local can mean out the back door: The pinecones and needles he used in his demonstrated brine were plucked from trees near the resort.
Given Barlowe’s commitment to community, it’s no surprise that the Charlotte-based chef owns a knife handcrafted by Steve Watkins of Charlotte-based Ironman Forge.
As the featured Maker of the weekend, Watkins hosted a knife workshop. As a custom knife maker, his goal is to “try to make the absolute sharpest tool I can make.” Watkins trained with masters and has worked closely with chefs to develop knife designs that are both functional and beautiful.
Watkins’ knives are guaranteed “the rest of my life,” he says with a smile (since there’s not much he can do for customers longer than that!), though “they should last the rest of your great-grandchildren’s lives if you take care of them.” During the workshop he offered tips for sharpening, storing, using and caring for knives, as well as opportunities to test out and purchase his artsy slicers. “I consider myself an artist who makes knives,” he said. The handles and blades are attractive; that a top-notch chef uses one speaks to the product quality. On average, Watkins puts five to 12 hours of work into each knife he produces.
Chef Barlowe’s approach to food was introduced at the Friday night kick-off dinner where the Pinehurst culinary team presented dishes inspired by his cuisine. Whole hog barbecue was the centerpiece of an extensive buffet that also served roast chicken, smoked salmon, charcuterie, and dozens of mouthwatering sides from salads to desserts. Poured alongside was a selection of North Carolina wines, whiskeys and craft brews.
The culinary weekend was informative yet relaxing, well-attended without being too crowded, engaging and genuinely delicious.
Chef & Maker Weekend events include interactive demonstrations, informative workshops, chef dinners and more.
- July 7-9, 2017 — James Beard Award-winning Chef Ashley Christensen of Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Death & Taxes, Poole’s Diner, Bridge Club, Chuck’s, Fox Liquor Bar restaurants in Raleigh
- Sept. 15-17, 2017 — James Beard nominated Chef Katie Button of Nightbell and Cúrate restaurants in Asheville
Chef & Maker Weekend Packages are $399 per person and include:
• Resort accommodations for 2 nights
• Breakfast buffet Saturday and Sunday mornings
• Friday night culinary event
• Saturday night Chef’s Dinner
• Interactive maker events
@21plusTravel Tip: Compared to other culinary weekends and events that we have attended, we consider the “Chef & Maker Weekend” package to be a true value given the quality and quantity of events that it includes.
Find chef bios, complete Chef & Maker weekend itineraries and package details at Pinehurst.com/ChefMaker or call 888.832.5890.
Friday night culinary events are open to the general public. Tickets are $70 per person at Pinehurst.com/events.
Odds of Encountering Children: Very low. Many elements of Chef & Maker weekends, such as the upcoming Poole’s Diner-inspired dinner on July 7 are strictly limited to guests age 21 and older. 21 Plus Salute!
80 Carolina Vista Drive
Pinehurst, NC 28374
Founded in 1895 in the heart of the North Carolina Sandhills, Pinehurst Resort was originally established as a health retreat. The firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape designer who created New York City’s Central Park, prepared the physical plan for the Village of Pinehurst.
Pinehurst Resort features nine world-class golf courses, an award-winning spa, three historic hotels, tennis and other recreational activities. Widely known as the cradle of American golf, Pinehurst has hosted more single golf championships that any other site in America. Its most revered golf course, Pinehurst No. 2, is considered one of the game’s architectural masterpieces.
– Photo Credits: chef portraits and weekend graphic courtesy Pinehurst; remainder © HSP Media LLC
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.