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James Beard Award Winners In Wilmington

By Liz Biro, posted Mar 19, 2014
(Photo by Liz Biro)
Downtown Wilmington’s Manna restaurant is once again attracting top chefs from beyond the Cape Fear region. This time, it’s Public Television series star chef Vivian Howard of Chef & The Farmer restaurant in Kinston.

Each year since 2012, Manna owner Billy Mellon has invited chefs to participate in a benefit to aid the Ellie White Foundation for Rare Genetic Disorders. The organization works to find cures for Wolfram syndrome and other diseases that receive little or no federal or private funding.

Howard is the subject of the Public Television documentary series A Chef’s Life. The show traces Howard’s journey from a successful culinary career in New York City back home to Kinston to open the farm-to-table spot Chef & The Farmer. It has become one of North Carolina’s most celebrated restaurants.

A James Beard Foundation Award semi-finalist for Best Chef: Southeast in 2011 and 2012, Howard will join the 2014 Ellie White Foundation event planned June 13, Mellon said. Contact Manna for details.

For the 2013 benefit, Manna hosted Raleigh-based Ashley Christensen, a James Beard Foundation Award nominee and semi-finalist for Best Chef: Southeast and a past competitor on Food Network’s Iron Chef America. Christensen owns acclaimed Poole’s Diner and other food and drink establishments in downtown Raleigh.

The first Ellie White Foundation dinner Mellon organized happened in 2012 and included Wilmington’s Catch restaurant owner/chef Keith Rhodes, a James Beard Foundation Award semi-finalist for Best Chef: Southeast in 2011.

Manna also recently hosted James Beard Foundation Award 2008 Best Chef Southwest winner chef Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson and James Beard Foundation Outstanding Wine Service Award winner master sommelier Bobby Stuckey for a private wine pairing featuring the men’s Scarpetta Wine.

Stuckey and MacKinnon-Patterson also own Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colo., and have been supporters of the Ellie White Foundation for Rare Genetic Disorders.

MacKinnon-Patterson was also named one of Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs in 2005. He also clocked time as chef de partie under highly praised chef Thomas Keller at Keller’s The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., where Stuckey and MacKinnon-Patterson met.

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