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The chef who makes holiday meals for Oprah is opening a new restaurant in Raleigh

Celebrity chef Kenny Gilbert, who competed on “Top Chef” and appeared on many other cooking shows, will open a new restaurant in North Raleigh in early 2020. The restaurant is called Cut & Gather and will serve Southern food cooked with wood fire.
Celebrity chef Kenny Gilbert, who competed on “Top Chef” and appeared on many other cooking shows, will open a new restaurant in North Raleigh in early 2020. The restaurant is called Cut & Gather and will serve Southern food cooked with wood fire. Agnes Lopez

This might be the year of the celebrity chef in Raleigh.

Another chef who has appeared on television culinary shows announced he will open a wood-fired concept in Raleigh.

Kenny Gilbert, a “Top Chef” contestant who has cooked for world leaders, Oprah Winfrey and appeared on a number of cooking shows, will open a new restaurant in Raleigh, the chef announced Thursday in a press release.

Gilbert’s restaurant will be called Cut & Gather and will be at 13100 Falls of the Neuse Road in Wakefield — between North Raleigh and Wake Forest.

Gilbert landed in the national spotlight as a competitor on Season 7 of Bravo’s cooking competition “Top Chef” in 2010. Proving to be talented and creative, Gilbert had a good run on the show, but packed his knives after the season’s Restaurant Wars episode.

For Raleigh, the Florida native is planning a Southern-themed menu with a backbone of wood smoke.

“It’s the old history of cooking with wood and building a fire and that being your main heat source,” Gilbert said in a phone interview.

In a release, Gilbert said he first visited Raleigh a decade ago. He is returning to a different city and culinary community, though he has crossed paths with Raleigh chef Scott Crawford, when the two were working at a Ritz-Carlton property in Florida.

“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,” Gilbert said in a release. “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.”

Gilbert trained at the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute and cooked in resort kitchens such as Ritz-Carlton properties in Florida, Sea Island in Georgia and the Inn at Lost Creek in Telluride, Colo., the chef said in a release.

Raleigh’s Cut & Gather will serve lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, with a menu of barbecue, seafood, grilled meats and Southern-style sides. According to the release, expect a cast iron aesthetic and a cocktail program built around whiskey and moonshine. The menu will include family-style meats (ordered by the pound), cast iron roasted pizzas, and Southern sides like collard greens, potato salads, Brussels sprouts, field peas and seasonal vegetables.

Raleigh dining scene

Gilbert’s arrival follows another high profile “Top Chef” alum tapping Raleigh for his next project. Katsuji Tanabe, who competed on three seasons of “Top Chef,” announced earlier in October he is opening a wood-fired restaurant in downtown Raleigh’s City Market.

While the Triangle’s dining scene has been demanding attention for years, 2019 has been a year impossible to ignore. Chef and restaurateur Ashley Christensen, who owns several restaurants in downtown Raleigh, earned food’s most coveted prize, the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef in the country.

A new generation of Triangle restaurants collected four nods from Bon Appetit’s annual roundup of 50 Best New Restaurants: Raleigh’s Benchwarmers Bagels and Heirloom Brewshop and Durham’s M Tempura and Sister Liu’s Dumplings.

The reputation of the Triangle’s restaurants and the curiosity of its diners are part of what attracted Gilbert’s attention, he said.

“The local scene is so dominant (in Raleigh),” Gilbert said. “You’re supporting someone who is invested in the community.”

Gilbert brings more glitz to the gaining prestige, a name seen around the country at food festivals and Winfrey’s personal holiday chef. For the past four years, he has planned and prepared Winfrey’s Thanksgiving and Christmas family meals.

Cut & Gather plans to open in early 2020. To follow its progress, visit its website, cutandgather.com and its Instagram account at instagram.com/cutandgather.

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Drew Jackson writes about restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the food scene in the Triangle and North Carolina.
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