Tag Archives: Ben Adams

Restaurant Week – The Piedmont, Durham, NC


  • Executive Chef: Ben Adams
  • Location: 401-B2 Foster St. Durham, NC 27701
  • Phone: 919-683-1213

Emblem_Triangle2015v4Piedmont Restaurant in Durham was the last designation for The Friends during their Triangle Restaurant Week adventure. Piedmont is known for using local, organic and sustainable NC products. According to their Facebook page Piedmont states, “Our food is inspired by seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers and purveyors.”

Ben Adams is the chef at Piedmont. By chance earlier in the week, Traveler had attended one of the Trial-by-Fire events in the Triangle NC Competition Dining Events where Chef Adams was one of the competing chefs. In his bio for this event, Chef Adams says, “My cooking style is modern American, refined comfort, seasonally driven and local.” The dishes Chef Adams creates are innovative and exemplify the farm to table concept done right.

logo-smallWe took a few minutes to look over the menu and make our selections. Piedmont’s Restaurant Week menu was varied and large enough to allow us each to select something different and share tastings around the table. During the NC Competition Dining event Traveler met Jennifer Noble Kelly, the publicist for Piedmont Restaurant, and shared that Piedmont was one of our choices for Restaurant Week. Jennifer told Traveler to let her know when we would be dining at Piedmont. Traveler made sure Jennifer knew we were on our way. To our surprise we were treated to additional appetizers Pan-seared scallops and house-made fettuccini with NC blue crab, trout roe with a smokey crème fraiche off the regular menu. The scallops were seared to perfection and locked in the tender juices. The fettuccini had the most delicate sauce that tasted fantastic.

The Traveler choices for the night were fried NC oysters for a starter and Smoked spiced-rubbed Green Buttons Farm’s pork chop accompanied by Shotgun Betty-braised cabbage and pine roasted fingerlings. The pork chop was juicy and flavorful and the cabbage cooked to perfection.

I decided on Lil’ Farm’s organic greens followed by spice-crusted NC flounder with pine-roasted fingerlings and braised fennel with a smokey fumet. The flounder was cooked just right – light and flaky.

Bad Boy selected marinated Heeks Farm beets with house-made ricotta and blackened NC Catfish with Carolina Gold hoppin’ john and braised collards. Bad Boy said the catfish was blackened to his liking and the sides added great flavor to the plate.

All of us felt the spices were used to arouse the palate but left plenty of room for the natural flavors of the food to come through. Also the chef’s mixings of flavors and textures added interest to each plate.

As Traveler and I were discussing the desserts, Bad Boy made the decision for us. Since there were three desserts and three of us, we would just order one of each:

  • Horchata semifreddo, avocado-coconut sorbet with sweet potato-tamarind sauce
  • Sticky Date Cake, salted caramel ice cream, dulce de leche
  • Coconut cashew cake, salted caramel-chocolate sauce with chocolate cashew ice cream

Each of the deserts was delicious but the Horchata semifreddo was our favorite.

The Piedmont is located in a refurbished 1930s Nash dealership. The environment is hip and urban complimented by a simple décor, high ceilings and soft lights. The ambiance is cozy, intimate and comfy. This can be attributed to General Manager, Crawford Leavoy’s belief in “guest-focused attention.” He wanders throughout greeting and engaging diners. When Crawford stopped by our table, he and Traveler discovered they had something in common – Traveler had worked in the town Crawford was born in Louisiana.

We had amazing service making our meal extremely enjoyable. Alexis, our server, was knowledgeable, friendly and attentive but not hovering. She could easily explain ingredients, techniques used in preparing the dishes as well as the flavorings and paring of the foods.

The Friends rated their meal and evening at Piedmont their best overall experience of Triangle Restaurant week. The fresh meal prepared with attention to detail and severed in a great restaurant environment didn’t disappoint. The three of us left with smiles on our s_belle_smfaces and looking forward to a return visit.


Trial By Fire: Triangle Street Eats Introduction to North Carolina’s Competitive Dining


The friends saw the twitter buzz last fall about the North Carolina Dining Competition; Fire in the Triangle and was interested to find out more about it. I volunteered to see how this competition worked, since it reminded me of Iron Chef, but only better. Since I am a newbie to this dining experience, I was interested in the history of how it all began.

logo2Background of Competition: The first competition; the original Fire on the Rock, held in 2005 in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, was organized by Mr. Jimmy Crippen. The competition was started as a way to build business during the off-season and has since exploded into a series across the state promoting local North Carolina ingredients, chefs and local restaurants. Jimmy Crippen was the owner of the acclaimed Crippen Country Inn and Restaurant in Blowing Rock, NC, which closed in 2013. The closure allowed Crippen to shift his focus to his Got to Be NC Competitive Dining Series full-time. He emcees each competition in the Fire series. In year’s past the competition has focused on five regions of the state, but host and creator Jimmy Crippen said the focus has changed to only three sections of the state – the Triangle, Charlotte and the Triad. Competing chefs will come from the surrounding areas of each region.

Battle Ben and Gerry: January 19, 2015

Location: Fire in the Triangle, will take place in Raleigh at 1705 Prime.

Secret Ingredient: Mangalitsa Ham

thVBJS0W8UMangalitsa (US spelling), Mangalitza (UK spelling) or Mangalica (original spelling) is a natural breed of pigs from Europe that are descended directly from wild boar populations. The Mangalitsa pig is unusual as it grows a hairy ‘fleece’, akin to that of a sheep. The Mangalitsa was formerly bred as a lard pig, and animals were large and round. Because of the drop in demand for lard, the breed’s popularity has declined and it is now regarded as a “rare breed“.

We were instructed to arrive at the competition at 6 pm. Heidi Billotto, a fellow blogger from Charlotte, representing La Farm Bakery, greeted me. She was very busy taking pictures and doing interviews, so I greatly appreciated her taking the time to seek me out. I was taken to my table, number 4. The blog team of Triangle Around Town was already seated to my right at our large table. On my left was Jennifer Simmons, a delightful person who loves and appreciates food

Topo Distillery and the North Carolina Beer Guys supplied drinks. I loved my spicy Bloody Mary and the beer made with orange peel and minimal hops, which decreased the bitterness of the beer. While we were waiting a basket of bread supplied by La Farm Bakery was placed on our table. Not being shy and since the basket was placed next to me, I sampled a white chocolate baguette, which was phenomenal!   I did not want to eat too much, so I could appreciate the gastronomical creations by Chef Fong and Chef Harris.

The excitement was building and the clock was slowly counting down the time to discovering what the secret ingredient would be. The clock reached zero and Jimmy Crippen began his role of Emcee. He was engaging and entertaining. He introduced the Chefs and finally announced the secret ingredient, Mangalitsa Country Ham.

How it works: Paying guests get to sample each course in a blind tasting alongside a panel of culinary and celebrity judges in a series of 15 dinner competitions hosted in the four regions of the state. Each evening, two restaurants “battle” it out, side-by-side, in a single elimination format. Guests savor a six-course menu (three dishes from each chef without knowing whose food they’re tasting) created around a “secret” ingredient. For almost all series, the secret ingredient will come from a North Carolina source. The secret ingredient is revealed to the chefs only an hour before they start cooking and it must be used in each of their three courses diners. Culinary, as well as guest judges, rate each dish and determine who moves to the next round and who goes home. At stake in each series is a grand prize of $2,500 and a coveted red chef jacket.

First Course: Pan-Roasted Scallop, Logan Turnpike Stone Ground Grits, Saffron. Chili. Crispy Johnson County Mangalitsa Ham. Chef Harris and his team from the Midtown Grill created this. It received a score of 28.16.

Second Course: Lavender and Thyme Seared Giant Sea Scallop, Rice Noodle Salad, Sautéed Parsnip & Johnson County Mangalitsa Ham, Currant-Cranberry Compote. Chef Fong of Persimmons Waterfront Restaurant of New Bern, NC prepared this. It received a score of 26.97.

Third Course: Confit of Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork Belly and Butter-Poached Crawfish, Looking Glass Creamery “Chocolate Lab” Rustic Porridge, Butternut, Red Onion Jam Red Eye Gravy. Prepared by Chef Harris with a score of 25.41

Fourth Course: Coffee and Johnson County Mangalitsa Ham crusted Certified Angus Beef Brand Rib Eye, Wild Mushroom, Mangalitsa Ham and Looking Glass Creamery “Ellington” Goat Cheese Risotto, Carmel Roasted Butternut Puree, Mangalitsa Ham and Citrus Brussel Sprouts, TOPO Old White Well Demi. Prepared by Chef Fong with a score of 26.81.

Fifth Course: Milk Chocolate Custard, Dark Chocolate Torte, Buttermilk Fluid Gel, Johnson County Mangalitsa Nam salted Carmel, “Fluff”.   Prepared by Chef Harris with the score of 28.61.

Sixth Course: Johnson County Mangalitsa Ham & Chocolate Stout Cake with Mangalitsa Ham and Pomegranate Sorbet, Vanilla Chil & Lime Anglaise Candied Beets. Prepared by Chef Fong with a score of 27.7.

The winner was Benjamin Harris from the Midtown Grill with a score of 27.42 with a close win against Chef Gerry Fong with the score of 27.16.

I had a great time. Both Chefs out did themselves with their creations. Mangalitsa Country Ham is a challenging ingredient. I was hoping for an ice cream from one of the Chefs, but enjoyed the desserts that were created.

I loved meeting Stephanie Beck from WRAL Out and About. I know she follows Triangle Street Eats on Twitter, but I invited her to check out our blog and Facebook Page. I was also fortunate to meet Felicia Perry. She is delightful.   I hope to run in to her again at other events. I loved the NC Beer Guys and hope to see them at the 214 Martin Street Beer Dinner with Raleigh Brewing Company Thursday night.

I plan on attending more of these battles. I hope our readers will attend and follow our gastronomical experiences as well as our choices for Restaurant Week. Here are the upcoming NC Dining Competitions.

Here are the first round match-ups supplied by WRAL: 


Got to Be NC Products

  • Pate Dawson Southern Foods PDF Chain
  • Pepsi Bottling Ventures
  • Joyce Farms
  • Certified Angus Beef Brand
  • Libbey Food Services
  • NC Egg Farmers: North Carolina Egg Association
  • Whole Harvest Foods
  • La Farm Bakery

mary_smThe Traveler