Southern Season hires Damon Barham as new corporate executive chef

Chef Damon Barham will be new corporate executive chef at Southern Season.
Chef Damon Barham will be new corporate executive chef at Southern Season. Courtesy of Southern Season.

Chef Damon Barham will be the new corporate executive chef for Southern Season, according to a press release put out Friday by the Chapel Hill-based chain of gourmet food and speciality stores.

Barham, who moved to Raleigh from California last year, has most recently served as a consultant for the Giorgios Hospitality Group. There his projects included culinary development of the soon-to-open Boheme restaurant in Durham. See the Mouthful coverage of Boheme here.

In his new position Barham will oversee the daily restaurant and deli operations for all Southern Season stores, as well as plan and implement culinary programs for new locations.

“Damon brings exceptional culinary talent and deep experience in restaurant management and menu innovation,” Fred Nixon, Southern Season’s director of restaurants, said in the press release. “He will strengthen our position as go-to dining destinations in communities that appreciate a farm-to-table approach in Southern cuisine.”

For his part Barham, who’s decade of teaching at Le Cordon Bleu in California and experience in international cuisine helped him to win a gold medal as part of a team of Le Cordon Bleu chefs in a culinary competition in Beijing, is looking forward to turning his attention towards Southern cooking.

“I feel like Southern cuisine is like jazz; it’s one of the true American culinary forms,” Barham said in the release. “At all of our operations, we’ll tap into that sense of grandma’s kitchen and homespun hospitality while providing our guests elevated seasonal and healthful choices, using as many local and regional [products] as we can.”

Southern Season, a Chapel Hill institution since 1975, has expanded across the South since being bought from founder Michael Barefoot in 2011 by TC Capital Fund, a joint local venture between Carrboro Capital Corporation and Tyron Capital Ventures. They now have stores in Raleigh, Richmond, Va. and Mt. Pleasant, S.C., near Charleston, with plans to expand to Atlanta this year.

Southern Season fans can get a taste of Barham’s culinary style soon at deli locations in the Chapel Hill, Richmond, and Mt. Pleasant stores as well as Weathervane Restaurant in the Chapel Hill store and Southerly Restaurant and Patio in the both the Mt. Pleasant and Richmond stores.

Matt Lardie is a Durham-based food and travel writer. He writes the Eat Write Go blog: Reach him at