Wow, this column could turn into “Now Dazzling” instead of “Now Serving.” What I mean by that is area chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, food activists and food artisans are making us proud.

First, several local folks have been selected as delegates to Terra Madre, the biennial convivium of Slow Food International (, to be held this October in Torino, Italy. Terra Madre “brings together food communities, cooks, academics and youth delegates for four days to work towards increasing small-scale, traditional, and sustainable food production.”

Here’s the list (maybe one of them has room for me in a spare suitcase?): Sheri Castle, chef, cooking instructor and food writer; Ristin Cooks and Patrick Walsh, owners of Castle Rock Gardens; Joann and Brian Gallagher, owners of Castlemaine Farm; Natalie Hampton, media specialist at N.C. State University; Savi Horne, associate director of agricultural policy and administration, N.C. Association of Black LawyersLand Loss Prevention; Phoebe Lawless, baker and proprietor of Scratch Artisan Baking; Glenn Lozuke, charcuterie maker for Watts Grocery; Betsy and Alex Hitt, owners of Peregrine Farm; April McGreger, pickler, preserver and proprietor of the Farmer’s Daughter; Kavanah Ramsier, co-coordinator of Durham Inner-City Gardeners.

To help fund the trip, Lawless is hosting another pie-baking class Wednesday, Aug. 20, at noon at A Southern Season (201 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill, 929-7133, For $45, she will teach you how to bake three pies. To register, contact her at

Local establishments are receiving raves in national food magazines. The August issue of Bon Appetit magazine listed Neal’s Deli (100 E. Main St., Suite C, Carrboro, 967-2185, as one of 10 sandwich shops “serving sandwiches with the pedigree of a four-star meal.”

And in its September issue, Bon Appetit features Ashley Christensen, former chef at Enoteca Vin (410 Glenwood Ave., Suite 350, Raleigh, 834-3070, and current chef at Poole’s Diner (426 S. McDowell St., Raleigh, 832-4477, in a roundtable discussion among women chefs that covers several pages, and features a recipe from each. Christensen’s contributed recipe is Sneads Ferry clams with late-summer squash, pistou and marinated grape tomatoes.

Yes, you did read “former chef” in reference to Christensen’s status at Vin. Raleigh food blogger Varmint ( assures that the parting was amicable, and was meant to allow Christensen more time to focus on Poole’s.

Finally, the September issue of Food & Wine names 3CUPS (which is moving from downtown to 227 S. Elliott Road, Chapel Hill, 968-8993, one of America’s best coffee bars. “Food insiders are as excited to talk about coffee bars as they are restaurants,” writes author Nick Pandolfi. “The quality has gotten that good. Here, are the classic and new places around the country with the most fanatical devotees.”

Know about a fun food happening in the Triangle? Send it to

Correction (Aug. 13, 2008): Ristin Cooks’ name was misspelled in the print version of this story.