‘Top Chef’ Alum Katsuji Tanabe To Open High Horse in Raleigh This Sunday, November 17th


High Horse Dishes – Photo by Nancy Granados

Chef Katsuji Tanabe – the renowned chef who captured television audiences when he starred on Bravo TV’s hit competition series Top Chef BostonTop Chef Mexico and Top Chef Charleston, and whose restaurants have stretched from Los Angeles and Las Vegas, to Chicago and New York City – announces his new Raleigh, NC restaurant High Horse opening Sunday, November 17th. High Horse is located at 208 Wolfe Street in historic City Market in downtown Raleigh. It will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 5pm until 11pm (and until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays, serving drinks and an abbreviated menu). In 2020, High Horse will open for Sunday brunch. Follow @HighHorseNC and @KatsujiTanabe. Reservations can be made on Resy.

Chef Katsuji Tanabe relocated to Raleigh to open High Horse – a restaurant to celebrate his “American Dream.” “The South has such a rich food culture and history; I really fell in love with it during Top Chef Charleston,” explained Tanabe. “I’ve found a home in the South where I can provide the best possible life for my family, and do what I love in a place that really cares about their food culture.” At High Horse, Tanabe brings his signature playful style and wildly unique combination of Mexican, Japanese and American flavors to life – influences from his childhood in Mexico City with parents of both Mexican and Japanese descent, two decades in restaurants in major cultural cities across the US, his experience competing on “Top Chef,” as well as his new home in the American South.


Chef Katsuji Tanabe – Photo by Nancy Granados

High Horse – a play on words – references the original stables which once occupied the City Market area, and serves as an invitation for diners to leave their pretentions behind and enjoy the “fun dining” experience for which Tanabe is so well known. “When you visit High Horse, we want to entertain you in every way – from the live fire in our open kitchen to the visually exciting cocktails and candy-filled cakes. Our entire menu is designed to share, and to be a really fun, engaging and affordable way for guests to dine together,” explained Tanabe, whose signature social media hashtag is, “#itookarisk.”

This festive restaurant and bar features two large wood-fired grills visible from the oval-shaped bar and dining room, in addition to an indoor private event space.


High Horse Cocktails Photo by Nancy Granados

Fans will discover variations of dishes from throughout Tanabe’s life and career – including his grandmother’s cornbread – also offered at his Chicago restaurant, Barrio. This close guarded family recipe also serves as Tanabe’s bread breaking with his new community; a percentage of sales from all cornbread sold will benefit downtown Raleigh’s pay-what-you-can café, A Place at the Table.

The majority of the menu offers dishes original to High Horse, which will be finished on the roaring wood-fired grills, including large format dishes like Spare Ribs in Tamarind Vinegar Sauce, charred Flat Iron Steak with burnt onion relish, and Skuna Bay Salmon with roasted peppers and chilies.

To complement, there is an adventurous selection of smaller and lighter dishes to share which have also been kissed by the flames and Tanabe’s global influences – charred Shishito Peppers with ponzuCauliflower with labneh, preserved lemon, burnt honey, chilies and mint, Oyster Mushrooms with black garlic confit and roasted Candy Cane Beets with marcona almond brittle, queso fresco and sherry vinaigrette.

Tanabe’s fondness for local Southern ingredients is as evident as his original take on them – as seen in the roasted Oysters with Country Ham Aioli and LimeNC Shrimp marinated in TogarashiOkra with Bottarga and NC Country Ham Tasting.

Like Tanabe’s bold cuisine, High Horse’s cocktails and desserts will also be instantly memorable. Vibrantly colored cocktails, including a keg Margarita, Cheerwine Old Fashioned and “Green Tea” ice shots draw inspiration from Tanabe’s heritage as well as his new found home in North Carolina.


Dessert! – Photo by Nancy Granados

Stay tuned! Soon, High Horse will introduce heated, outdoor dining and lounge seating as well. View High Horse menus at www.HighHorseNC.com and reserve on www.Resy.com

About Chef Katsuji Tanabe
Born and raised in a Jewish neighborhood in Mexico City to parents of both Mexican and Japanese heritage – captured the hearts of Americans at his restaurants across the US and through his appearances on national television. Now the Chef of Barrio in Chicago, Hussong’s Cantina at Mandaly Bay in Las Vegas, and High Horse in Raleigh, NC, Tanabe first made a name for himself in 2011 in Los Angeles, CA as the owner and chef of Mexikosher, the first authentic kosher, Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, and the first of its kind in the United States.  In 2016, he charmed audiences on Bravo’s Top Chef Boston, followed by Top Chef Mexico and Top Chef Charleston. Prior, Tanabe appeared on The Travel Channel’s Chow Masters, had a winning appearance on Food Network’s Chopped, was a professional chef contender on NBC’s Food Fighters as well as a judge on Master Chef Mexico.

Tanabe is committed to being a voice for immigrants in the food and beverage industry, supports CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees) and the James Beard Foundation’s “No Waste” initiative.

From restaurants and events to national television, Katsuji Tanabe continues to deliver his flavorful and flamboyant style to diners and fans across the US.

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“A Bronx Tale” Brings Heart to DPAC

A Bronx Tale

Nick Fradiani as Lorenzo and Stefanie Londino as Rosina in “A Bronx Tale”
(photo by Joan Marcus)

On Tuesday I headed over to Durham to get a little taste of the Bronx. After grabbing a quick dinner at Only Burger (perfect inexpensive pre-theater dinner spot by the way) with my friend Art, we strolled over to DPAC to catch the opening night performance of A Bronx Tale. If you are a fan of the 1993 film directed by Robert DeNiro then you will love this production and the talented cast that brings the story to life on stage. Based loosely on the life story of Chazz Palminteri, this is a fast paced high-energy musical set on the mean streets of the Bronx in the 1960’s filled with peppy Doo-Wop tunes and fancy footwork.

A Bronx Tale tells the story of Calogero, a young Italian boy from your typical working class family coming of age. Calogero is taken under the wings of  Sonny, the powerful neighborhood don who accepts him into his crew for not snitching on him when he witnesses Sonny kill a man in front of his house. Sonny’s mobster life and morals are are odds with don’t with Lorenzo, Calogero’s honest and hardworking father who drives a city bus to put food on the table. As he grows up Calogero has to decide between the two conflicting worlds and realizes living a life of integrity really means.

b. The Company of A BRONX TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus

The Company of “A Bronx Tale”
(photo by Joan Marcus)

The second act centers around the forbidden love between Calogero and his classmate Jane, a  black girl from Wesbster Avenue, the dividing line beween the black inner city and the Italian neighborhoods of Belmont Avenue. Their relationship inevitably sparks trouble when a fight breaks out between Calogero’s Italian street punk friends and Jane’s brother. But it is this conflict that forces Calogero to confront the big question of how he wants to live his life and what type of man he is to become.

The cast is the real start of this production, but they have great support from a production that has created a simple yet inspired set design that does an excellent job of transporting you to the world  of  the gritty streets in the 1960’s Bronx.  Speaking of the cast, Ale Nevin is wonderful as the handsome but naive Calogero. He brings a sweet-hearted masculinity to the roll and is excellent as both the narrator during the first few numbers and is on top of his game when he gets his chance to sing.

g. Jeff Brooks as Sonny, Trey Murphy as Young C and the Cast of A BRONX TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus

Jeff Brooks as Sonny & Trey Murphy as young “C” in “A Bronx Tale”
(photo by Joan Marcus)

Jeff Brooks also does an outstanding job as Sonny, the mafia boss. He plays the character with depth and a fatherly warmth that allows him to step out of the old cliches typical of mafia characters. And although he is violent at times (he does kill a man after all) his musical numbers make him endearing and show a side to the character that transcends the movie version to show his true character as he watches out for Calogero.

One thing that really stood out to me about A Bronx Tale, aside from the superb singing and choreography, was the number of male characters that dominated the stage throughout the show. As I thought about this later as I walked back to my car after the show I realized that this casting decisions makes a lot of sense, because at its core this show is a coming of age story about male identity and relationships. While some may think it is only targeting male theatergoers I think this is a show that any audience member can relate to and enjoy.

‘A Bronx Tale’ has performances at DPAC through this Sunday, November 11th. For more information and tickets visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/a-bronx-tale

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Friday Pick: Little Waves Coffee Roasters and Heirloom Brewshop First Friday Launch!


Little Waves

Chuan Tsay – Areli Barrera de Grodski – Anna Phommavong

Starting this Friday coffee lovers will be able to find coffee from Durham’s Little Waves Coffee Roasters served in Downtown Raleigh at Heirloom Brewshop. To celebrate this new exciting partnership coffee fans are invited to join these two local businesses on their collaboration launch tomorrow after 4pm – Friday, November 1st, for the first taste of “Douang Prachanh” (Lao for “Heart of the Moon”), an exclusive coffee for Heirloom, inspired by Anna and Areli.


On Friday visitors to Heirloom can meet the the people behind Little Waves Coffee Roasters and Heirloom Brew Shop and chat about inspiration, heritage, and the importance of minorities and women in our community and in historically male-dominated professions. There will be free sample bags of coffee for the first 50 attendees!

Chocolate pairings from Escazu Chocolates and a special First Friday cocktail made with a Douang Prachanh cold brew and Hakutsuru sake on the menu all night. Heirloom also seves noodle and rice bowls and a has a special sake menu making it a perfect Friday date night spot. Hope to see you there!

Heirloom Brewshop
219 S. West Street
Raleigh, NC

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Celebrity Chef Kenny Gilbert to Open New Restaurant “Cut and Gather” in North Raleigh in February

12-16-2017 Temple Display- The Arboretum of South Barrington

Chef Kenny Gilbert & Oprah Winfrey

Renowned culinary entrepreneur, TV personality, and chef to the stars Kenny Gilbert today announced he will open a new restaurant called Cut and Gather in Raleigh in early 2020. The restaurant will be located in North Raleigh – at 13100 Falls of Neuse Road – and feature an all-day menu of wood fired Southern-style cuisine as well as weekend brunch. Expect an authentic flavor-forward menu of meats, BBQ, seafood, and other regional dishes cooked on custom-made woodburning ovens, grills, and smokers.

Affordable family-friendly offerings inspired by his Florida-born mom’s cooking will rotate in tune with local harvests. Welcoming portions served tableside in American cast iron will have guests reminiscing to time spent on relatives’ porches growing up across the South. A complementary innovative craft cocktail and bar program will highlight unique moonshine and bourbon creations.

Chef Kenny cooking.jpg

The name Cut & Gather pays homage to Kenny’s collective culinary experiences – from cooking for superstars to reinterpreting for his own family and friends his favorite small-town styled recipes. Cut & Gather is intended as a showcase of his “tried and true” special chef dishes over the years.

Throughout his more than two-decade career, Kenny has been executive chef at some of the most lauded hospitality destinations in the country, including The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Resort in Sea Island, Ga., the Ritz Carlton properties in Amelia Island & Jupiter, FL, and The Inn at Lost Creek in Telluride, Colo., named one of CondeNast’s Top 40 Resorts in the U.S. He has launched numerous restaurants and helped design and develop James Beard recognized concepts like Yardbird, Khong River House, and Swine.

Chef Kenny Gilbert (credit Agnes Lopez).jpg

Despite humble beginnings, Kenny has cooked for the G8 summit during President Bush’s time in office, bested Bobby Flay on his own Food Network TV show, judged Food Network TV’s “Chopped Junior,” cooked for the ​Sports Illustrated​ Super Bowl party, appeared on the “Today Show,” and as a cheftestant on Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” (where he was voted season seven fan favorite with the nickname The Beast in the Kitchen). A sought-after headliner in food & wine festivals around the country, Kenny also cooks each year for Oprah Winfrey’s personal holiday meals and his recipes are regularly featured in O, The Oprah Magazine. Its current November cover proclaims Kenny’s Smoked Turkey as “My All-Time Favorite Turkey Recipe.”

“I first came to Raleigh in 2010 as a special chef guest at the annual Southern Women’s Show and was fortunate to experience firsthand the exciting level of food talent here even back then,” said Chef Kenny Gilbert. “Fast forward to today – national award-winning names such as friend and former Amelia Island colleague Scott Crawford have cemented the Raleigh food scene on the map. I am thrilled to plant roots here and add my own experiences and passion for reimagined Southern cuisine to one of the fastest growing areas of the country.”

Kenny is personally crafting the entire Cut & Gather dining experience – from menu development to handpicking and training his team – and looks forward to making his guests feel welcomed.

Sign up for updates at www.cutandgather.com and connect on social @cutandgather.

About Chef Kenny Gilbert
Born and raised outside Cleveland, Kenny’s curiosity for the kitchen started young. His mom noticed how captivated her son was when she cooked or entertained and began teaching him the basics.  Kenny’s father, an avid BBQ man, schooled him in the ways of the grill, including homemade sauces and rubs, presenting him with his very own small Weber at the age of seven.  By age 11, Kenny was cooking the family’s entire Thanksgiving dinner solo.  In high school, he was cooking at practice for his entire swim team, on a portable electric double burner in the locker room.

Kenny enrolled in a local vocational culinary program while in high school and after graduating, earned a degree in culinary arts from The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute.  Kenny began his career with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company as an apprentice in the garde manger kitchen of their acclaimed Amelia Island, FL property.  Kenny worked his way up to Chef de Cuisine at the age of 23, helping to consistently secure the AAA Five Diamond Award for the property throughout his tenure there.

With more than 20 years of industry experience, Kenny has run just about every area of Food & Beverage Divisions at the AAA Five Diamond and Mobile Five Star levels. His passion for fine dining is complemented by his vast experience across the entire spectrum of the culinary industry. From banquets to pastries, club and restaurant design to bar and lounge concepts, Kenny’s innovative and creative approach to the restaurant and hospitality industries is unmatched.  Follow Chef Kenny @ChefKennyG.

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7th Annual Salt & Smoke Festival – November 9th in Chapel Hill!


On Saturday, November 9th ACME presents the 7th Annual Salt & Smoke Festival at Rock Quarry Farm in Orange County just outside of Chapel Hill. What is Salt and Smoke? Think whole hog BBQ, a heaping plate of southern sides, perfect raw oysters, the best local spirits and beer, and live music all day long.


This festival is a taste of the South. They pick the best farmers and musicians, brewers and fishermen, cooks and craftsmen–people who have built a life in a place they love. And then we bring these people and their passion together for an afternoon of good food, music, and community.


Chef Kevin Callaghan will be serving whole hog BBQ straight from the smoker, fresh Shooting Point oysters, steamed clams, and a whole bunch of delicious vegetarian southern sides. This year libations will be provided by have Foothills Brewing, DeMaison Selections pouring wine, TOPO Organic Spirits mixing up cocktails, plus non-alcoholic beverages as well.


Salt & Smoke is going to be a fun day to enjoy great food and drink while listening to musical performances by Big Fat Gap and Jonathan Byrd & the Pickup Cowboys, followed by a dance party to close out the evening!

Each ticket includes:

  • Two drink tokens (local beer, cocktails, wine, or non-alcoholic beverages available)
  • Southern snacks
  • A heaping plate of BBQ and southern sides
  • 1/2 dozen raw Shooting Point oysters and steamed clams
  • S’mores bar
  • Music performances all afternoon
  • Surprise entertainment
  • Complimentary shuttle to and from Rock Quarry Farm (pick up at Carrboro Plaza Wells Fargo ATM).

To purchase tickets and read more about the festival info visit their website at https://saltandsmokefest.com/.

Salt & Smoke Festival – November 9th, 2019
Rock Quarry Farm
1700 NC Highway 54 West
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

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