Don’t miss this adults-oriented culinary retreat.
By Chris Chamberlain
Earlier this year, I wrote about the series of “Chef & Maker Weekends” planned at the stately Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C. Then my friend and favorite editrix Hope S. Philbrick attended the first event of the series featuring Chef Clark Barlowe and custom knife maker Steve Watkins. She also made sure to work in a little spa time, too.
Last month, it was my turn to visit the lovely resort to experience their particular brand of Southern hospitality. I jumped at the chance to attend the second weekend of the series because it featured one of my favorite chefs, Ashley Christensen of Raleigh, N.C. I was honored to be asked to lead the Q&A session with Chef Christensen as part of the weekend’s festivities, as well as help the assembled audience learn more about this fantastic chef and genuinely decent human being.
But, of course, we were mainly there to eat and drink. (And to relax. Those rocking chairs on the front veranda of the resort must have had some sort of gravity creation devices, because they were tough to get out of once settled into one with a cold cocktail in hand.) The schedule for the weekend left plenty of time to explore the resort and the charming village that’s just a few minutes walk away from the front door of Pinehurst. Although we were only in town for a weekend, we may have earned rookie-of-the-year status at Dugan’s Pub and the tasting bar at The Village Wine Shop.
The official kickoff of the weekend was a casual outdoor party and dinner featuring multiple food stations offering fare inspired by Chef Christensen’s food prepared by the talented culinarians of the Pinehurst’s kitchen. There were also wine, spirit and beer tastings available at tables ringing the courtyard. Knowing that many of us had traveled a distance to reach Pinehurst, the festivities ended at a humanely early hour, while it was still light outside. Of course, we didn’t take advantage of the extra time to sleep off the time change and travel damage. (See Dugan’s Pub above…)
The second morning featured the Q&A with the chef and a book signing where each attendee received a personalized copy of her cookbook, Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner. Later that afternoon, Colin O’Reilly of Terrane Glass Designs fired up his portable kiln for a glass blowing demonstration on the West Lawn of the resort. Although it was a steamy day, Pinehurst thoughtfully supplied shady tented areas for the guests along with cooling water and cocktails provided by Doc Porter’s from Charlotte.
The final official event for the weekend was a seated supper created by Chef Christensen and her staff along with the kitchen crew of Pinehurst. Delicious wines were poured courtesy of Carmel Road Winery, and the highlight of the multi-course meal was a Tomato Pie that continues to haunt my dreams as I gnaw on the inferior tomatoes coming out of my garden.
Although the Chef & Maker program officially ended on Saturday night, checkout wasn’t until 11:00 on Sunday, leaving me just enough time to get in 18 holes on one of Pinehurst’s nine golf courses. (Hey, Hope got a hot stone massage! I wasn’t going to one of the cradles of American golf without at least knocking it around a little bit.) I was fortunate enough to play Pinehurst #4, one of the resort’s most popular courses. It’s not as diabolical as the notoriously difficult #2, but still challenging enough for golfers of all abilities. Best of all, it was a stunningly beautiful track, winding through pine groves and around placid ponds. Believe it or not, I even finished with the same golf ball I started with.
If this sounds like the kind of relaxing culinary weekend you’d like to take part in, there is one more chance coming up next month, and it should be spectacular. September 15-16, Chef Katie Button of Cúrate Tapas Bar in Asheville, N.C., will be the guest chef. I know I sound like a fanboy of all these North Carolina chefs, but Cúrate really is one of my favorite restaurants in Asheville, a city filled with amazing dining opportunities. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy Chef Button’s cuisine many times and also see her conduct cooking demos at food festivals around the region, so I’m certain that she’ll do a great job.
Packages for the entire weekend of food, fun and lodging are just $399 and are available at Pinehurst’s website. I suggest you go check it out!
– Photos by Chris Chamberlain
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Editor’s Note: Thanks, Chris. I may need to get new business cards printed with that title, Editrix. Ha!