Sean Fowler, chef-farmer-owner at Mandolin Raleigh

It’s Sean Fowler’s favorite time of year to cook. Sure, this year is like no other, but amid the chaos and uncertainty, the vegetables in his  Mandolin restaurant garden are still coming up, slowly but surely. And Fowler is still using them to cook. 

“You’re going with the doldrums of winter, cooking potatoes and root vegetables,” he says. “And then all of a sudden you start getting radishes, beets, chard, lettuces, and peas.”

Like every restaurant in North Carolina, Mandolin Raleigh has had to scramble to survive. For Fowler, this has meant ramping up takeout and rolling out a delivery menu from Mandolin Farmhouse Meals. Front-of-house staff at Mandolin who were able to drive have become delivery drivers; others are cooking in the kitchen. Everyone’s roles have become more fluid. 

Including Fowler, who can now add “cooking personality” to his resume, thanks to a series of popular Instagram cooking-demonstration videos that he’s begun rolling out. During a time of profound social isolation, they’re his way of building community and consistency, and helping translate the farm to the table. 

“There is something inherently social and communal about cooking and dining and eating,” he says, noting that he’s witnessed an uptick of interest in cooking and gardening. “I still wanted to make that connection and so we found a way to virtually bring people onto the farm.”

At home, Fowler—who is quarantining with his wife, Lizzy Fowler, twin four-year-old daughters Clementine and Grace, and two-month-old son—is turning toward family and Easter. The Stracciatella soup, which is “not an Easter dish per se” but is egg-themed and flush with fresh spring ingredients,  was one of the first dishes he learned to make as a kid in junior high. 

Stracciatella (Italian Egg Drop Soup)

Yield: 6-8 Servings

½ tsp olive oil

3 large spring onions, bulbs julienned, tops sliced

2 quarts chicken stock 

3-4 1’2” pieces of parmesan rind

3 large eggs

4 cups of fresh greens, cut into ribbons (spinach, chard, broccoli rabe, kale, sorrel)

½ cup chopped parsley

½ cup julienned basil

Salt, black pepper, and red pepper flake to taste


1) Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan. Sweat the onion bulbs over low heat until they are translucent (about 3 minutes).

2) Add the chicken stock and parmesan rinds to the pan and bring it to a boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

3) While the stock is simmering , whisk you eggs together in a bowl. Once the soup has simmered for 10-15 minutes, pull out the parmesan rinds and add the egg and greens. Let sit for one minute without stirring.

4) Stir everything together and allow soup to simmer for a minute. Remove from the heat, add the herbs, and season to taste.

Contact deputy arts and culture editor Sarah Edwards at 

DEAR READERS, WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW MORE THAN EVER. Support independent local journalism by joining the INDY Press Club today. Your contributions will keep our fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle, coronavirus be damned.