When local entrepreneur Terry Bell decided to open The Spice & Tea Exchange of Duck, she knew she wanted it to be more than a place to buy quality products: She wanted it to be a must-stop destination for people who find joy in cooking, just as she does.
As an admitted “foodie,” Bell has a deep passion for good food, and she is equally passionate about shining a spotlight on local chefs who strive to make amazing cuisine.
Her vision was to bring these skilled culinary artists to her shop and prepare a multi-course meal in a workshop setting while integrating the unique spices, herbs, seasonings and blends found at her shop — and so, The Spice & Tea Exchange Chef Series Dinner was created.
The monthly event, which began in November 2017, features a different chef from a popular Outer Banks restaurant.
Each event is $45 per person and includes the cooking experience, adult beverages paired with the meal and copies of the recipes to take home. Reservations are required, and payment is required at the time of reservation.
“We get some of the best chefs in the Outer Banks to cook right in front of you with the opportunity for you to take photos and ask questions as they cook,” says Bell, who co-owns the business with her daughter Megan Scott.
“You can eat at your favorite restaurant all summer and never see the chef. Here, you can personally interact with them, ask questions, get tips, watch them work and learn.”
Each event, which is from 6 to 8 p.m., is limited to a small group of participants to ensure a personalized experience.
“We only seat a small group, 16 people, and the chef is asked to incorporate ingredients found in the shop into their dishes. The chefs design a four-course menu, list the recipes and carry out their preparation in front of the group, with the opportunity for the onlookers to take notes, along with the recipes, home to recreate the dish. It’s a great way to let the locals know about our shop and its products.” Bell says.
Those dining are also treated to wines especially chosen to compliment the meal.
Daniel Lewis, chef/owner and Sommelier at Coastal Provisions Oyster Bar & Wine Bar Café located in Southern Shores was the featured chef for December and has known Terry for years.
“I appreciate people who have a passion for food and want to share that experience with others,” Lewis says of the Chef Series Dinner. “It’s cool you’re cooking in front of the guests, too.”
What Lewis found most challenging was preparing a intricate menu in a non-conventional manner without the comforts of a regular commercial kitchen. “I prepared a 6-course meal on portable burners, and I did it without setting off any smoke alarms,” the 40-year culinary veteran says with a chuckle. “It was a good learning experience. It also teaches the guests how to use these spices to cook”
Lewis says he was even inspired afterwards to try something new, infusing teas into a creme brûlée recipe.
Bell says she’s pleased with community response to the series.
“We have a lot of repeat guests who attend and enjoy it so much, they sign up for the next one,” she says.
Those who take part also receive a 15% shopping discount to use that evening to purchase all the custom spice blends, salts, sugars, peppers, and teas needed to make the dish at home.
Upcoming events are as follows:
Tuesday, Jan. 23: Chef Greg Sniegowski of Beachside Bistro
Sunday, Feb. 11: Chef Matt Payne of Bad Bean Baja Grill
In March, chefs Meghann Paul and Mike Dianna of Mike Dianna’s Grill Room in Corolla will be featured chefs. The date is yet to be determined.