Cheetie Kumar, Garland (Raleigh, NC)
People often ask me what my favorite food is, and I’ll answer, but for the most part, the answer is deeper than one dish or one ingredient. My favorite foods are the ones soulfully prepared, or another way to put that is prepared with heart, not from a place of purely commerce or transaction, but from a place of communication and connection. I think that’s a true X factor that comes through in flavor on the plate. So, it’s only logical that one of my favorite places to eat in the South right now is Garland in Raleigh, NC. Chef Cheetie Kumar has wowed and wooed me from the first bite at her table, her mix of Indian and Asian flavors with North Carolina ingredients at once comforting yet elegant alchemy. She’s been featured in The New York Times, participates in the popular Brown in the South pop-up dinners and has been at many a food festival as of late, but what I’m most excited about is how her work is only going to get better from here, work that I’m already ready for another helping of.