This is a far from comprehensive selection of Trianglers who made power moves this year, but even fresh off of our Indies Arts Awards, we can’t find enough space to sing all the praises we’d like to.

For instance, as Southern studies scholar Bill Ferris retired from teaching at UNC-Chapel Hill this year, he celebrated a new accomplishment with the release of Voices of Mississippi, a profound summation of his lifelong work as a folklorist. Dust to Digital issued the three-disc box set, which includes a book and earned two Grammy nominations for best historical album and best liner notes. Rife with big names and virtual unknowns, it’s a masterpiece, and if you’re unfamiliar with Ferris’s legacy, it’s a great introduction.

Speaking of Grammys, Eric Oberstein, associate director of Duke Performances, is up for another one as the producer of Back to the Sunset by the Dafnis Prieto Big Band, which comes to Baldwin Auditorium on March 29, by which time we’ll know if Oberstein has brought home the statue again, following two 2015 wins for his collaborations with Arturo O’Farrill.

Emily Frantz of Mandolin Orange has been on a steady rise for almost a decade, and while the Chapel Hill folk duo didn’t release an album in 2018, Frantz and Andrew Marlin added a new endeavor to their body of work: parenting. Ahead of the baby’s arrival, the pair wrote and recorded a new album, Tides of a Teardrop, which is out in early February. They also performed across the United States and Europe, meaning that Frantz was hitting the stage eight months pregnant in a sparkling gold dress. That’s Beyoncé-level bossing.

Chef-restaurateur Ashley Christensen, who previously won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast, was nominated for Outstanding Chef at the 2018 awards. Though she didn’t win, it’s a big deal to be nominated in a nationwide category. A handful of other top Triangle talent earned semifinalist nods, including Gabe Barker of Pizzeria Mercato for Rising Star Chef of the Year, Fullsteam brewer Sean Lilly Wilson for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional, and Cheetie Kumar of Garland, who was nominated for Best Chef: Southeast.

Maggie Kane, who founded and opened pay-what-you-can-cafe A Place at the Table, garnered attention on The Today Show. Kane was inspired to bring the concept to Raleigh based on her work with people experiencing homelessness. She wanted to create a safe space where they could choose what they wanted to eat from a wholesome, fresh menu and dine with dignity. Kane has also been recognized for her work with A Place at the Table locally, receiving N.C. State’s Outstanding Young Alumna award and the INDY’s Food Triangle award.

Durham’s Saltbox Seafood Joint, owned and operated by Ricky Moore, landed on Taste of the South magazine’s “Taste 50,” which covers the places, people, tastes, and trends that make up the South’s diverse food scene. Beard Award–winning chef Andrea Reusing (of Lantern and The Durham) was also recognized for her work as founder of Kitchen Patrol Initiative, a nonprofit that improves children’s access to quality food through weekly cooking classes.

Chefs across the state banded together to host Hurricane Florence relief events to raise money for hurricane victims and businesses affected by the storm, and several restaurants donated a portion of proceeds to benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Dozens of Triangle chefs and hospitality workers volunteered in support of World Central Kitchen, chef José Andrés’s nonprofit dedicated to disaster relief and fighting poverty and hunger.

In Chapel Hill, Al’s Burger Shack’s Bobo Chili Cheeseburger was crowned the best burger in America by TripAdvisor—which is to say, by the people who use it. As Food & Wine reported, TripAdvisor analyzed millions of user reviews to determine the honor, and the Bobo Chili Cheeseburger, where the patty comes heaped with chili sauce, coleslaw, chopped onion, yellow mustard, and American cheese, took home top honors. And Durham Distillery’s owners, Lee and Melissa Katrincic, were inducted into the prestigious London-based Gin Guild, the fourth and fifth Americans to be sworn in. Durham Distillery was also named the number-one craft gin distillery in America in USA Today’s annual reader’s-choice poll.

The Triangle also made some film-and-TV splashes this year. We recently interviewed Lachlan Watson, a young actor nurtured in the Raleigh theater community who is now pushing forward nonbinary representation with a meaty role in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Thunder Road, a Sundance-winning short produced by Durham resident Ben Wiessner, was turned into an acclaimed feature film. And Bisbee ’17, a film by N.C. State grad Robert Greene, received national acclaim everywhere from to The New York Times.