The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill Welcomes A New Executive Chef and Tar Heel Fans this Football Season

I get giddy when I go to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumnus, I may be slightly biased, but I think the town is one of the most beautiful in North Carolina, especially in autumn.

I was delighted to attend a special reception last night to introduce the community to James Clark, the new Executive Chef for Carolina Crossroads Restaurant and Bar. This Forbes Four-Star and Four-Diamond rated restaurant is is located in the stately, Carolina Inn. The beautiful and historic inn sits right in the middle of the UNC campus in Chapel Hill, and is rich with Tar Heel tradition.  In fact, I used to live behind the inn when I was in school.

New Carolina Crossroads Executive Chef, James Clark
The Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill, NC
Raised in Elizabeth City, N.C., Clark returns to his North Carolina roots having previously worked at Five-Star, Five-Diamond, Four-Star and Four-Diamond restaurants in various cities well known for innovative restaurants and exceptional cuisine like Washington D.C., Charleston, New Orleans and Atlanta, among others.  

Chef Clark is so warm, and personable. One thing that I really like about him is that he likes to keep things simple in the kitchen.

"I am all about simple food and great flavor by letting the ingredients speak for themselves and acquiring great local products," said Chef Clark, an avid outdoorsman. "I am really impressed with the North Carolina agricultural scene connecting chefs and farmers. I can't wait to get out into the community and meet all the farmers."

Chef Clark used three different types of fish for his welcome reception last night.
He is definitely a seafood lover. This man can cook some fish.  I tasted an outstanding triggerfish dish served over Carolina Gold rice, and a red-bean hoppin' john succotash. It was fantastic. It was so good that Will went through the line twice.

I should have gone back for more, too, but I was busy talking to Chef Clark as well as fellow bloggers Carolina Mama, and Johanna Kramer about Johanna's new book, "Food Lovers' Guide to Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill." It's in bookstores now, and Carolina Crossroads is one of the restaurants featured in the guide.  Former Executive Chef Jimmy Reale, shared his Brinkley Farms Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Soup recipe for the book. Johanna signed my copy last night, and I can't wait to read more. This area is becoming quite the mecca for foodie travel, and I'm sure Chef Clark will be putting his mark on the area, too.

I can't leave you without showing you something sweet. Executive Chef Clark has added Sara Beth Thomas to his culinary team for the role of  Executive Pastry Chef. Her resume is impressive. She's worked at more luxury Ritz-Carlton resorts than I've stayed in on vacation. Chef Clark has a Ritz-Carlton background, too. 

The dessert display for Chef Clark's welcome reception.  The Carolina Inn also specializes in weddings.
 I have attended two wedding receptions at the inn through the years. 
Carolina Crossroads serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also, the inn is a popular place to be during Carolina football season.  When the Tar Heels play in town, the inn hosts "Tailgate-Inn" on the front porch. Chef Clark is serving up his favorite pulled pork sandwich.  He rubs and smokes the pork in house, and then moistens with his own in-house BBQ sauce.  

For those fans not going to Kenan Stadium during the game, you can watch the game on TV at the inn.
For each UNC home game, there will be a build your own Bloody Mary Bar with a variety of mixes available including the Inn’s signature extra spicy “InnCinerator” served on the front porch. The Inn offers its tailgate menu with full bar service, and plenty of comfortable seating under the shady oaks and magnolias on the Inn’s front lawn. There is no cover charge.

For 12:30 p.m. kickoffs, the pre-game tailgate festivities take place from 9:00 am to Noon with post-game tailgate from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. For 3:30 p.m. kickoffs, the pre-game tailgate is served from Noon to 2:30 p.m. with post-game tailgate from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

UNC home games are: September 22 (East Carolina), September 29 (Idaho), October 6 (Virginia Tech), October 27 (NC State), November 10 (Georgia Tech) and November 24 (Maryland).
See you there!
Want to Go:
211 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

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