Durham Chefs

The Culinary experts

 
 
Andrea Reusing,  The Durham

Andrea Reusing, The Durham

Team black

Andrea Reusing is the executive chef of The Durham Hotel in Durham, North Carolina and the chef and owner of Lantern in Chapel Hill. The recipient of the James Beard Award for “Best Chef: Southeast” in 2011, Reusing collaborates with small farms and producers across North Carolina and is an advocate for food policy change.

Reusing was the founding chef and general manager of Enoteca Vin, the critically-acclaimed, wine-focused restaurant in Raleigh. In 2002, Reusing opened Lantern where she combines North Carolina ingredients with Asian flavors and has earned accolades including “America’s Top 50 Restaurants” from Gourmet and one of “America’s 50 Most Amazing Wine Experiences” from Food & Wine. At The Durham, Reusing revives American melting pot and hotel classics, and casts them in a modern light at the restaurant and rooftop bar.

In 2011, Reusing published her first cookbook, Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes. An absorbing journey through a year in her home kitchen as she cooks for family and friends, the book was named one of the most notable cookbooks of the year by The New York Times.

Reusing is the founder of Kitchen Patrol, a non-profit project to improve children's access to quality food through weekly cooking classes, serves on the board of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, and chairs the James Beard Foundation’s Impact Advisory Committee.

 

Team turquoise

Stephanie Terry is a Racial Equity Community Organizer, activist and advocate for healthy families. She was the Founding Organizer for Justice United in Community Effort, and Industrial Areas Foundation organization. She is also a Co-Founder of Organizing Against Racism Orange County and Chatham County NC, both Racial Equity Institute Affiliates. She worked for over a decade as a Sales and Marketing professional for Hilton and Marriott hotels. Stephanie is a professional vegan baker and chef and is the owner of Sweeties Southern & Vegan Catering. She caters in Durham and around the Triangle. Stephanie is married with 5 children and 7 grandchildren and lives in Pittsboro, NC.

 
John Eisensmith,  Black Twig Cider House

John Eisensmith, Black Twig Cider House

Team orange

Chef John Eisensmith’s career began before he even realized it, watching his grandfather cook meals at his family farm. The experience created a profound connection for him between the farm and the dinner plate. After working his way through the limited kitchens in his hometown, he elected to attend the prestigious Culinary Institute of America and continued working during school, completing his externship with The Blue Point in Duck, North Carolina.

Upon receiving his degree, John took his effort and creativity to Four-Starred Wish Restaurant in Miami working with Chef Michael Bloise, who later invited John to cook with him at the James Beard House in New York. From Miami, he moved on to Nantucket to learn the nuts and bolts of the restaurant business. During his four years there, John became a fixture in the tight-knit Nantucket restaurant scene, working with and befriending many of the island’s chefs and restaurant owners.

Ready to strike out on his own, John made the move to Durham, North Carolina, where he chanced upon Six Plates Wine Bar and Matthew Beason. In early 2010, John joined Matthew as the chef of Six Plates, then moved up to partner in 2013 as the two opened Mattie B’s Public House. In 2016, after following a growing passion for cider, they transformed Six Plates Wine Bar into Black Twig Cider House to become the premier cider focused restaurant in the Southeast. John is committed to delivering elevated dining and outstanding customer experiences in all aspects of his endeavors while spreading his passion for food to all who will listen. The vibrant Durham restaurant scene has fostered John’s creativity in the kitchen while his ambitions have expanded and his roots have grown throughout our community.

 
Cecilia and Nora Polanco,  So Good Pupusas

Cecilia and Nora Polanco, So Good Pupusas

Team pink

Cecilia is the founder of a social justice food truck based in Durham, NC, called So Good Pupusas. So Good Pupusas sells Pupusas, a traditional Salvadoran dish. The food truck works in partnership with the non-profit Pupusas 4 Education by donating a percentage of its profits to support immigrants in funding 4-year degrees and certification programs.

Cecilia serves on the board of the Helius Foundation and N.C. SLI and has been a Summer Fellow with Frontline Solutions and the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation. She is passionate about working with Latinx and immigrant communities and making higher education more accessible and affordable. She believes that business can be a force for good, and that pupusas can change the world.

Nora is Cecilia's mother and is also mother to three older daughters, Ana, Sandra, and Yesenia. She was born in and lived in El Salvador until the mid 80s, when she emigrated to Los Angeles, California. As of 1993, Durham is her home, where she now lives surrounded by family and friends who she loves to feed. 

Nora believes in the importance of education and supports her daughter as the Executive Chef of So Good Pupusas, where her recipes give the traditional pupusas their delicious authenticity. She has a welcoming kindness and loves to feed folks! She is an active member of the Immaculate Catholic Church community, where she helps with food sale fundraisers and home visits. 

 
Toriano Fredericks,  Boricua Soul Food Truck

Toriano Fredericks, Boricua Soul Food Truck

Team light blue

Upon graduation from the United States, Merchant Marine Academy, Toriano started a career at sea as a professional mariner. While navigating vessels around the world, Toriano had a chance to taste cuisines of Central and South America, Africa, Europe, The Middle East and Asia. Traveling prompted Toriano to launch a food blog called La Buena Vida, documenting his travels and interaction with food and the people who prepare it. 

In 2015, Toriano brought his passion for food to the streets and launched Boricua Soul Food Truck with his wife Serena. The truck's concept blends memories from their Grandmothers' tables mixing the best of Soulfood and Puerto Rican cuisine.

Toriano lives in Durham with wife Serena, their five-year-old son and Chihuahua Pepe. 

 
Roberto Copa Matos,  COPA

Roberto Copa Matos, COPA

Team red

Roberto Copa Matos never wanted to be a chef. Trained as a biochemist at the University of Havana, he was later pushed out of the sciences in Cuba because of his political beliefs. With the sciences closed to him, Roberto turned to the arts, working as a watercolor artist in Havana, where he eventually met Elizabeth, who would become his wife. When they settled in Durham, Roberto was happy to once again to put his degree to work in a neuro-pharmacology laboratory at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Roberto’s life would take a different turn, however, when he and Elizabeth agreed to start Old Havana, a Cuban sandwich shop in downtown Durham, with Roberto's relatives. One week before opening, the relatives decided they couldn't run Old Havana after all. With only rudimentary knowledge of the food business, Roberto and Elizabeth rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Roberto would run the kitchen and Elizabeth, who had her own marketing business, would run the administrative and publicity arm of the restaurant.

Roberto and Elizabeth's new restaurant is COPA, a Cuban tapas and cocktail bar located in downtown Durham. COPA will allow Roberto to bring together the inquisitiveness of a researcher, the finesse of an artist, the productivity of a farmer, and the creativity of a chef. Roberto sees today that the serpentine paths of his life have crisscrossed too many times to count, with each intersection bringing him closer to his true calling. Part scientist, part artist, part farmer, Roberto never intended to be a chef—but today he can’t imagine being anything else.

 
Curtis Wong, Executive Chef at  Bull City Hospitality

Curtis Wong, Executive Chef at Bull City Hospitality

Team purple

Born just outside of NYC to an Italian Mother and Chinese Father - food was always present growing up. Saturday morning Dim Sum in Chinatown would be followed by a great big Italian meal at my mother’s table on Sunday afternoon. While trying to save some money in college, I started line cooking and have never looked back. I moved to Durham, NC 12 years ago with a car full of clothes and one person I knew. In those 12 years, I have worked in some of the best restaurants with the best chefs in town. I ran a dining hall on Duke’s West campus for 4 years, oversaw multiple senior living communities, and became the first full time “Chef” that the Durham Bulls hired in 2016. 

Nutritional awareness is very dear to me; especially for our youth. Proud husband and father of two – we spend a lot of time cooking, volunteering on local farms, and shopping at farmers’ markets. Since being at the Durham Bulls, I have implemented a composting platform and have regular pick-ups from Urban Ministries and Durham Rescue Mission.   

 
Daniel Mohar,  ZenFish Poké Bar

Daniel Mohar, ZenFish Poké Bar

Team green

Chef Daniel is head chef at Zen Poke Bar in Durham. He’s grateful that his Durham Bowls teammate, Ms. Erica Judd, was NOT the nutrition manager at Jordan High School when he was a student there. Apparently, Chef Daniel could give his nutrition staff a bit of a hard time back in his student days. He’s glad to have the chance to make school food the way he would have wanted it then.

 
Ricky Moore,  Saltbox Seafood Joint

Team dark blue

Ricky Moore, originally from New Bern, North Carolina, is the Chef and Proprietor of Saltbox Seafood Joint with two locations and a food truck in Durham, North Carolina. Moore has traveled extensively cooking in many of the major cities and abroad. In 2007, Chef Moore appeared on the Food Network show Iron Chef America, where he challenged Iron Chef Michael Symon in the “Thanksgiving Battle.” Moore has been featured in Saveur, Travel & Leisure, Southern Living, The New Yorker (The Week), Garden & Gun, Our State, Vogue, USA TODAY, Eaters, Bravo TV, and Tasting Table. He is a graduate of Culinary Institute of America and a US Army veteran. Chef Ricky is a devoted family man to wife Norma of 26 years, daughter Hunter Johanna, and son Greyson Beckham.

 
Paul Inserra,  American Meltdown

Paul Inserra, American Meltdown

Team yellow

Chef Paul Inserra has been in the restaurant industry for over 20 years working as a waiter, bartender and cook. He relocated with his wife, Alycia, to Durham, NC 7 years ago to open up the American Meltdown food truck. The food truck was launched in 2012, and the husband and wife team have since opened their first brick and mortar location in 2015 at the Streets of Southpoint Mall. The brand specializes in gourmet melt and grilled cheese sandwiches. American Meltdown's food has been written about in the New York Times, Bon Appetit, Southern Living, Cosmopolitan and Our State. Chef Paul has also been on the Food Network's 'Cutthroat Kitchen' and will be featured on the Cooking Channel’s new show, 'Food Truck Nation'.