Visit NC Invites Chefs, Diners to #CookItForwardNC

RALEIGH, N.C.Visit North Carolina is shining a light on the state’s elevated dining landscape with CookItForwardNC, a new campaign that celebrates culinary traditions and innovations while supporting restaurant workers affected by COVID-19.

Acclaimed chefs have started a chain reaction on Instagram by using the #CookItForwardNC hashtag to call on fellow chefs to share a recipe. As the campaign unfolds, food lovers can feed their passions and share their appreciation with donations to the NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund, gift card purchases and takeout orders. They can also look forward to Instagram Live and IGTV segments based on engagement with content tagged #CookItForwardNC.

“The campaign highlights the generous spirit of our culinary makers as well as the craveable dishes that have made North Carolina a top destination for food travel,” said Visit NC Director Wit Tuttell. “Our restaurants are fighting mightily to survive the pandemic’s blunt economic blow and continue welcoming us to the tables where we consume, savor and celebrate the unique pleasures of a meal. It’s our privilege to rally support for this community of chefs, pitmasters, servers and kitchen staffs.”

Designed in concert with the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association, the campaign starts at CookItForwardNC and plays out on Instagram. Chefs who have shared pantry lists, inspiration and love for fellow culinary creators include:

  • Ashley Christensen, the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Chef in the United States, of Poole’s Diner and others, Raleigh.
  • Vivian Howard, host of the PBS series “A Chef’s Life” and “Somewhere South,” of Chef & the Farmer and others, Kinston.
  • Ashleigh Shanti, a James Beard Rising Star Chef finalist, of Benne on Eagle, Asheville.
  • Greg Collier, a James Beard semi-finalist, of Uptown Yolk and the ready-to-open Leah & Louise, Charlotte.
  • Cheetie Kumar, a three-time James Beard semi-finalist and rock guitarist, of Garland, Raleigh.

With the conversation extending from the mountains to the coast, #CookItForwardNC will pick up steam with Instagram Live streams of chefs in their kitchens, which will lead to segments produced for IGTV. The  CookItForwardNC homepage will add recipes and other content for home chefs to try while looking forward to getaways.

Restaurant dining rooms across the state closed March 17 as part of the strategy to curb COVID-19. Though many of them switched to takeout and delivery service, thousands of restaurant employees were left without jobs. The Restaurant and Lodging Association responded by creating the NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund to help sustain them.

Under Gov. Roy Cooper’s phased reopening plan, dining rooms could reopen as early as Friday with reduced capacity.

“With a seating capacity of 50 percent or less, many restaurants won’t be able to afford to reopen,” Tuttell said. “Our support now could make a difference for their future prospects. Donations, takeout orders and gift card purchases speak to our hopes that we’ll be back at the table before long.”

To connect with restaurants offering takeout and delivery, go to this list of locales. While you’re in the digital neighborhood, find virtual tours, custom Zoom backgrounds and other ways to Visit North Carolina From Home.

To learn what to look for when restaurants reopen, read about Count on Me NC.



Suzanne Brown

Suzanne Brown
Media Relations Manager
Veda Gilbert
Public Relations Manager
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