Mouthful

James Beard event features dream team of Italian chefs

Il Palio Chef Teddy Diggs cooked at the James Beard House in New York City for the first time on Feb. 7. He is hosting an Italian feast in Chapel Hill in September to raise money for the James Beard Foundation.
Il Palio Chef Teddy Diggs cooked at the James Beard House in New York City for the first time on Feb. 7. He is hosting an Italian feast in Chapel Hill in September to raise money for the James Beard Foundation.

When Chef Teddy Diggs was asked to host a James Beard Foundation event at Il Palio in Chapel Hill, he called all of his friends.

Would they be part of this once-in-a-lifetime dining experience that showcases the best of Italian food? While the long-distance logistics have taken some wrangling, he’s assembled a variety of regional and national chefs who will do just that. They include 2017 James Beard Award-winner Sarah Grueneberg of Chicago (and recent “Iron Chef” contestant) and Diggs’ mentor, Nick Stefanelli of Masseria in Washington, who has a Michelin star.

“The goal is to offer the best Italian experience you can,” Diggs said. “We’ll cook Italian food, but it’s all starkly different stylistically. This is going to be really fun to experience each chef’s true Italian cooking, but from their own perspective.”

The result is Festa Italiana, a six-course meal with plenty of hors d’oeuvres and drinks, which will be served Thursday, Sept. 14, at Il Palio at the Siena Hotel.

The roster of chefs, bakers and beverage professionals features: Gabe Barker, Pizzeria Mercato (Carrboro); Brian Canipelli, Cucina 24 (Asheville); Craig Deihl, Cypress and Artisan Meat Share (Charleston, S.C.); Sarah Grueneberg, Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio (Chicago); Matt Kelly and Josh DeCarolis, Mothers & Sons (Durham); Nick Stefanelli, Masseria (Washington); Pastry Chef Deric McGuffey, Il Palio (Chapel Hill); James Beard Award-winner Peter Reinhart (Charlotte); Mixologist Bob Peters, The Punch Room (Charlotte); Sommelier Esteban Brunello, Bar Brunello (Durham)

Diggs was invited to host the event after he cooked at the James Beard House in February. The event will raise money for the James Beard Foundation’s scholarship fund.

The hotel is at 1505 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill. Cocktail hour begins at 6 p.m. Dinner is at 7:30 p.m., followed by a live auction.

Tickets are $175 for James Beard Foundation members and $185 for nonmembers. Call 919-918-2541 or go to ilpalio.com/festa-italiana/ or jamesbeard.org/events/chapel-hill-nc.

Jessica Banov: 919-829-4831, @JessicaBanov

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