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Busy Bee Cafe gets it right

Ilina finds a downtown Raleigh restaurant where pretty much everything is local.

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Ilina Ewen
Ilina Ewen
The best meal I have ever eaten in my life was at McCrady's in Charleston, S.C. Mac Daddy surprised me with a trip there to celebrate our tenth anniversary in March. Knowing how much I appreciate local food, sustainability, and a talented chef, McCrady's was the natural choice. Chef Sean Brock is my culinary hero (not just because he's a fellow Virginian).
And dang am I bummed I missed him when he was here at Poole's recently! His philosophy jives with what I've been preaching at places like the recent TEDxTriangle event. Food is more than physical nourishment. Food is chock full of emotions and memories. Sean Brock's McCrady's is the golden standard of sustainable restauranting. He even raises his own pigs, making the most delightful charcuterie that reminds me of the local butcher's creations in the German village I lived in years ago. And this is coming from a girl who doesn't even eat meat.

On our return drive to Raleigh, I was lamenting to my husband that we don't have a local Sean Brock or McCrady's. I felt that I had found heaven there (though the bar and wait staff turned out to be less savory and sweet than the food and cocktails), combining all my loves. The only thing missing was a shoe department. ;-)

And then I perked up when I read an interview my friend Dana did with Chef Jeremy Clayman of the Busy Bee Cafe. The Busy Bee Cafe is a staple on our list of places to patronize in downtown Raleigh. We love the food, the cocktails, the atmosphere. My favorite cocktail is the Sting, and the owners were nice enough to share the recipe with me for a weekly 5:00 Fridays feature on Dirt & Noise.

I knew the owners and chef were interested in sustainability, but I had no idea the extent to which they were committed. The Busy Bee uses natural cleaning products and the to-go containers are made from recycled materials. Even the fryer oil is collected by a local man who turns it into biodiesel fuel.

Chef Jeremy Clayman and I must be kindred spirits. We both have suit and tie corporate dads, favor English to math, planted a backyard garden, and use the kitchen to let our creativity soar. He supports our local economy by supporting local farmers. One of Jeremy's favorite local suppliers is Rainbow Meadow Farms, where he gets pork, poulet rouge chicken, and lamb. It's so nice to know that there are local, sustainable options for everything on our dinner plates!

The Busy Bee is a place that truly gets the beautiful marriage of fresh, local ingredients to engender a sense of community. If the old adage about the way to a man's heart is through his stomach is true, then surely the way to the heart of a community is through its palate.

Ilina is the Raleigh mom of two who writes about food every Wednesday. You can always find her on her own blog Dirt & Noise.

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