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N.C. food and beverage companies among Martha Stewart's American Made contest nominees

Martha Stewart Living magazine has announced the nominees for its annual American Made contest and many North Carolina food and beverage companies are in the mix.

You can help their cause by voting for them up to six times a day between now and Sept. 22. Category winners in craft, food, garden, style design and technology will be announced Sept. 23 and a grand prize winner on Oct. 1. Winners could take home $10,000, win a trip to New York City and be featured on marthastewart.com

Among the N.C. food nominees are French Broad Chocolates in Asheville, Race City Popcorn Co. in Mooresville, Salem Baking Co. in Winston-Salem, La Farm Bakery in Cary, Two Chicks Farm in Hillsborough, Huntington Kitchen in Raleigh, Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, Local Cookie in Carrboro, Nye’s Ice Cream Sandwiches in Wilmington, Nephew’s BBQ Sauce in Garner and Coco Rue Confections in Raleigh.

To see all the nominees, go to marthastewart.com/americanmade/nominees

More than 60 food trucks will be in downtown Durham Sunday

Durham Central Park’s annual Labor Day weekend food truck rodeo will be 12:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday.

More than 60 trucks will gather at the downtown Durham park to sell food. To wash down that food truck fare, Durham’s Fullsteam and Triangle breweries will be selling beer.

The event also will include musical entertainment by Mudbones Blues Revue band and DJ PiddiPat and crafts for sale by the Durham Craft Market and Vega Metal Market.
To see a complete list of the participating trucks, go to durhamcentralpark.org/events/food-truck-rodeo-info/.

Bring a lawn chair or a blanket and enjoy the afternoon. The park is at 501 Foster St.
If you can’t make it to this rodeo, save these dates: Nov. 17 will be the next food truck rodeo at Durham Central Park; and Oct. 13 will be the next downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo (downtownraleighfoodtruckrodeo.com).

World Beer Festival returns to Durham in new location

The World Beer Festival returns to Durham on Oct. 5 in a new location: the old Durham Athletic Park.

All About Beer magazine, based in Durham, announced the details this week. Tickets go on sale noon Thursday for magazine subscribers who get the coveted first chance to get VIP passes that typically sell out in the pre-sale days.

Tickets go on sale to the general public July 24 at 10 a.m. The event will feature two sessions: an afternoon tasting from noon to 4 p.m. and an evening tasting 6-10 p.m. General admission is $45 and VIP tickets -- with a food buffet, special beers and a private hospitality area -- are $75.

The event is typically held at the Durham Bulls stadium, but it's a no-go because of construction. The party, no doubt, will still go on. And the old ballpark is closer to Fullsteam Brewery for those who don't get enough unlimited two-ounce samples of more than 300 different beers, including a large portion of craft beer offerings. Find more details here.

Pintful: Durham craft breweries making first-ever collaboration ale

Take the best of the Triangle, Fullsteam and Bull City beers and mash them together. What do you get? The first-ever collaboration ale from Durham’s three craft breweries.

The trio came together on the unique project for N.C. Beer Month in April, said Seth Gross, owner of Bull City Burger and Brewery. The concept was simple: Take the signature grain, a specialty malt and the dominant hop from each brewery, at equal proportions, and make a beer. The end result is a hop-forward, copper-colored beer with roughly 6 percent alcohol. “It’s not any particular style,” said Gross, who is brewing the beer at his restaurant. “It’s representative of what the three brewers embody.”

The project also represents a movement gaining steam in the craft beer industry: the collaboration ale. The whole idea of multiple breweries putting their creative minds together to produce a single, often nouveau beer under a joint label sets the craft industry apart. It’s the tangible result of the camaraderie you hear so much about in the industry.

Gross said the Durham collaboration – which will debut April 3 at each brewery’s tasting room – is still a work in progress. Once the initial fermentation is completed, the brewers may add another twist – a dry hop or possibly a specialty ingredient, such as rosemary from the bush on the nearby street corner, Gross said.

In the meantime, the breweries are soliciting a name for the beer. The brewers will considered top five “liked” names submitted by March 31 on Bull City’s Facebook page. Read this week's Pintful column here.

Triangle restaurants, chefs named as James Beard semifinalists

The James Beard Foundation's list of restaurant and chef award semifinalists was just released and there was a strong showing from the Triangle and the entire state.

  • Durham's Mateo Tapas is a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant.
  • Phoebe Lawless of Scratch Bakery in Durham is a semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef.
  • Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill is a semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurant. (Owner and chef Andrea Reusing won a James Beard award for Best Chef Southeast in 2011.)
  • Angus Barn in Raleigh is a semifinalist for Outstanding Wine Program.
  • Sean Lilly Wilson of Durham's Fullsteam brewery and Eric Solomon of European Cellars in Charlotte are semifinalists for outstanding wine, spirits or beer professional.
  • Katie Button of Curate in Asheville is a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year.
  • The semifinalists for Best Chef Southeast are Ashley Christensen of Raleigh's Poole's Diner among other restaurants; Scott Crawford of Herons at the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary; Vivian Howard of Chef & the Farmer in Kinston; Scott Howell of Nana's in Durham, Elliot Moss of The Admiral in Asheville; and Aaron Vandemark of Panciuto in Hillsborough.

To see the list of all the semifinalist nominees, go to jamesbeard.org/awards

The semifinalist nominees will be narrowed to finalists and those will be announced March 18 at a press conference in Charleston, S.C. The winner will be announced May 6 at a gala reception in New York City.

This how the awards work: The foundation puts out a call for nominations in the fall and this year more than 44,000 entries were received. A committee narrows the entrees to a list of semifinalists in each category. Then more than 600 judges across the country -- regional restaurant critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators and past James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Award winners -- vote for the five finalists and then choose a winner in each category.

The James Beard Foundation is a nonprofit that recognizes excellence in the culinary field from chefs and restaurants to journalists and cookbook authors. James Beard was a television personality and food writer who championed regional American cuisine. The foundation was created by his friends after his death in 1985.

Pintful: Fullsteam, Cackalacky collaboration a spicy success

Of the many ingredients in Page Skelton’s tangy Cackalacky Spice Sauce – including the secret ones – one is missing: ginger.

Skelton compensates in his newest venture, showcasing the spicy root in a unlikely but delectable collaboration with Fullsteam Brewing Company’s founder, Sean Lilly Wilson. Together, the longtime friends and beer lovers produced Cackalacky Ginger Pale Ale.

The copper-hued, malt-forward, subtly spiced GPA (as it is called) debuted Sunday at the brewery in Durham with a fanfare befitting the zest of the two local companies. The launch party celebrated National Kazoo Day-eve and included Cackalacky-spiced chicken wings.

“This takes our brand beyond just a spice item and into a lifestyle item,” Skelton said. “It’s a way to go beyond whatever we’re being defined as.”

Click "Read More" for the full column.

Four Triangle companies win Good Food Awards

Four Triangle-based food and beverage companies were honored in the third annual Good Food Awards competition.

Durham's Fullsteam Brewery won for its first frost beer. Raleigh's Escazu Artisan Chocolates won in the confections contest with its dark chocolate basil ganache. Alamance County's Blessed Earth Farm won in the pickle category with its summer squash curry relish. And the Hillsborough-based Farmer's Daughter Brand won in the preserves contest with its rosey strawberry rhubarb preserves.

Congratulations to all the winners.

The Good Food Awards are an annual competition that recognizes tasty foods and beverages made by socially-responsible and sustainable food producers.

To see the complete list of winners announced last weekend, go to goodfoodawards.org.

Eat, drink, award grants to farmers or food entrepreneurs

A new dinner series has launched to help raise funds for beginner farmers and new food entrepreneurs in North Carolina.

It is called Funds to Farms
and here is how it works: diners pay $15 at the door for a buffet meal and listen to presentations from five people seeking funding for their farm or food business. The diners will vote on which person should get a micro-grant. That person will take home the money raised from ticket sales and donations at the door.

These dinners are a collaboration between The Abundance Foundation, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and Slow Money NC.

The first dinner will be 7-9 p.m. Jan. 27 at Fullsteam Brewery, featuring soup and salad from Vin Rouge Bistro and Piedmont Restaurant and bread from Ninth Street Bakery. Plus, Fullsteam will be donating $2 for each pint sold of their new beer, Cackalacky Ginger Pale Ale, at its launch party from 3-5 p.m. Jan. 27.

And if you would like to be one of the five applying for a micro-grant, applications are due Jan. 16.

For tickets or information, go to fundstofarms.com.

Five North Carolina companies are finalists for Good Food Awards

The annual Good Food Awards honoring artisan food and beverage producers has named a handful of North Carolina companies among its finalists:

To see a complete list, go HERE.

The winners will be announced Jan. 8.

Durham bake sale for Hurricane Sandy relief

Durham baker Katie Meddis has organized a Sweet Relief Bake Sale to help victims of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey.

Meddis, who with her husband plan to open Rose's Meat Market and Sweet Shop in Durham, has recruited home and professional bakers and restaurant chefs to donate baked goods. The sale will be 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Durham's Fullsteam Brewery.

Among those donating goods are Rue Cler, Toast, Scratch, Guglhupf, Berenbaum's and The Cupcake Bar.

All the proceeds will go to the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in New Jersey to feed the thousands of people living in shelters.

Here's more information about the bake sale: https://www.facebook.com/events/478474022175823/

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