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Chef Ken And Karen Barker

Celebrity Chef

Ben and Karen Barker's culinary skills have been praised by food critics in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Esquire, Restaurant News, Southern Living, and others. Feature stories and their recipes have appeared in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Chocolatier, Southern Living, Ladies Home Journal and Traditional Home magazines.

About Ben and Karen Barker

Ben and Karen met on the first day of class as students at The Culinary Institute of America and have been cooking together ever since. They each have an Associate Degree from the CIA (class of 1981) and now live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with their son, Gabriel.

Culinary Arts

Ben is a North Carolinian and has been chef of Restaurant La Residence (a French restaurant founded by Bill Neal) in Chapel Hill; head chef, The Fearrington House, Pittsboro, North Carolina, where he succeeded Edna Lewis. While there, Ben established "The Cuisine of the New South" as the theme of the restaurant. He also instituted the first all-American wine list in North Carolina and was instrumental in securing the "Relais et Chateau" designation for the Inn at Fearrington. With his wife, Karen, he is chef/co-owner of Magnolia Grill, Durham, North Carolina.

Karen, a native of Brooklyn, New York, has been pastry chef at Restaurant La Residence and The Fearrington House; she is the award-winning pastry chef and co-owner of Magnolia Grill. Karen describes her baking as "down home American with a twist."

Honors and Awards for Magnolia Grill and Ben and Karen Barker

The talented chef-owners of the award-winning Magnolia Grill in Durham, North Carolina have founded the success of their restaurant on their combined experience of forty years in top quality restaurants and on their formal educations at New York's prestigious Culinary Institute of America. From the opening of Magnolia Grill on November 13, 1986, they have received national attention. That recognition continues and includes the following awards:

Magnolia Grill selected as 11th best restaurant in America, Gourmet

Ben Barker -- Winner, Best Chef in the Southeast
James Beard Awards

Magnolia Grill Recipient of DiRoNA Award of Excellence for Distinguished Restaurants of North America

1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, and 1992
Ben Barker -- Nominee, Best Chef in the Southeast
James Beard Awards

Karen Barker -- Best Pastry Chef
Bon Appetit American Food & Entertaining Awards

2000, 1999, and 1997
Karen Barker -- Nominee, Outstanding Pastry Chef
James Beard Awards

1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994
Award of Excellence, Outstanding Wine List
Wine Spectator

Featured on television series "Great Chefs of the South"

Chosen to participate in the PBS television series
"Americas 1996 -- Rising Star Chefs"

Ben and Karen Barker -- Fine Dining Hall of Fame
Nation's Restaurant News

Selected by Delta Airlines to create a Southern regional menu, with original recipes, to be served to passengers on Delta's international flights

Selected as "National Pork Restaurant of the Year"
National Council of Pork Producers

Ben Barker -- "Ten Best New Chefs in America"
Food Food & Wine Wine

Ben Barker -- "Rising Star Chef"

Ben Barker -- "Who's Who of Southern Cooking"
Food Food & Wine Wine