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Chef behind beloved Durham bakery opens new restaurant

Chef Phoebe Lawless of The Lakewood restaurant and Scratch Bakery sat down to answer 10 personal questions.

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Renee Chou
, WRAL anchor/reporter
DURHAM, N.C. — Acclaimed pastry chef Phoebe Lawless is making her mark in Durham's vibrant food community with a new full-service restaurant.
The Lakewood serves up deliciousness in the heart of a Durham residential neighborhood, and Lawless says her focus is creating original, delicious dishes made with locally-sourced ingredients.

Some of her favorite items on the menu include sweet potato hummus with sorghum taboulleh and flatbread or grits souffle with charred duck liver mousse. Another popular item? Burgers.

Lawless says The Lakewood offers something for everyone.

"The idea was a neighborhood restaurant," she said. "I wanted to not only acknowledge the neighborhood that I was in but where I came from."

Lawless is referencing her hometown of Lakewood, Ohio. She currently lives close to her restaurant in Durham's Tuscaloosa-Lakewood neighborhood.

Now one year old, The Lakewood is a fairly new adventure for the pastry chef and James Beard semifinalist, who is better known for her decadent desserts from Scratch Bakery. "I've baked for the past 15 to 20 years, but my roots are in savory cooking and being a line cook, and I wanted to get back to that," said Lawless.

Scratch Bakery's second location is known as "Baby Scratch" (Facebook)
The Lakewood indulges that passion while allowing Lawless to stay true to her first love -- baking. In October, just months after closing the original Scratch, Lawless opened up a second Scratch bakery in the same historic building as the restaurant!
It's called Baby Scratch.

"That's really fulfilling to put that much time and effort into something and have it come out great," said Lawless.

Creative desserts are another crucial part of The Lakewood menu, like tangerine sherbet. Lawless said half of The Lakewood diners always order dessert, which is a high number in the restaurant industry.

"There are a lot of places to eat in Durham these days, and finding our niche for what we can be proud to put out anf what people are excited to come in and have is that balance we're living in right now."

10 questions

What does Chef Lawless do outside of the kitchen? She sat down to answer 10 personal questions.

Q: What is your favorite dessert?

A: Ice Cream.

Q: What is your favorite thing on your menu?

A. Steak

Q: What do you cook at home?

A. We eat a lot of eggs, a lot of omelets. I also make quick spoon-bread souffles.

Q: Who is a chef you most admire?

A: I would have to say Karen Barker, who I learned under from Magnolia Grill. That's a hard question! Ashley Christensen is pretty fantastic.

Q: What is your favorite local restaurant?

A: I go to Nana’s (steakhouse in Durham) a lot, I can walk to it from my house.

Q: Tell us about one time your recipe failed.

A: I attempted a white chocolate fondant for a wedding cake. I know it can be done, but it ended up looking like Swiss cheese.

Q: What's a non-cooking talent that you're proud of?

A: I am a really good pool player and a very good typist.

Q: Do you have a favorite fast food joint?

A: Char-Grill.

Q: Do you cook with music?

A: I often listen to the news. I'm not in my car that much, since I live so close (to the bakery) so it's the only time can get caught up on the news.

Q: What's one talent you wish you had?

A: I wish I was a better tennis player.

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