Top Toques

In April 2022, Eat by Lauren KruchtenLeave a Comment

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Raleigh’s Beard finalist and semifinalists answer our burning questions. 

Let’s give it up for the three Raleigh chefs recognized as 2022 James Beard Award noms for Best Chef: Southeast—semifinalists Oscar Diaz and Sunny Gerhart, and finalist Cheetie Kumar! We’re feeling that Raleigh pride in full force, and we’re on the edge of our seats as we await the winners to be crowned June 13 at the annual JBF Awards ceremony in Chicago (if you’re headed to Chi-Town now or ever, peep our travel picks on p. 62). Here, we tapped our Raleigh top toques on everything from their fave local cocktail to where they’re eating around town when they’re not putting in work in their respective kitchens that earned them these prestigious accolades. jamesbeard.org

Cheetie Kumar, Garland

First restaurant you cooked at?
The Rockford 

Podcast pick(s)? How I Built This, Digging Deep With Robert Plant and Somm TV 

Something people would be surprised to know? I play electric guitar. 

Book(s) you’re reading? Beyond the North Wind by Darra Goldstein (cookbook) has held my interest for a while. I also loved Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger by Lisa Donovan.

Fave thing to cook at home? Simple stews and vegetables from the farmers market. We try to keep things simple and healthy. 

Oscar Diaz, The Cortez

Go-to place to eat out in Raleigh? Stanbury—[chef] Drew is a beast. 

Fave beverage in Raleigh—not in your resto? Anything [owner] Lily from William & Company
puts in my face. 

Podcast pick(s)? The Midnight Miracle 

Book(s) you’re reading? While in Puerto Rico, I read Crónicas, a magazine they hand out at dispensaries.

First restaurant you cooked at? Alizé atop The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Shout out to chef Mark Purdy—you a real one, my guy!

Sunny Gerhart, St. Roch

Go-to place to eat out in Raleigh? Too many to narrow down to one…  Garland, Poole’side Pies, Jolie

Fave beverage in Raleigh—not in your resto? I’m a big fan of the old-school glass sodas at Beasley’s: Cheerwine, Sundrop (I’ve been sober for 3.5 years).

Podcast pick(s)? Andrew Talks to Chefs by Andrew Friedman—interesting perspective and stories from some of the best chefs in the country

Book(s) you’re reading? High Output Management by Andrew Grove and Deep Work by Cal Newport

First restaurant you cooked at? Hickory Hams in Greenville

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