Peregrine Farm News Vol. 16 #2, 2/7/19

What’s been going on! 

It is with extremely heavy hearts that we have to share the loss of one of our closest friends and the sweet side of the Triangle and North Carolina’s greatest food couple.  Karen Barker passed away this past weekend after complications from a year and a half battle with cancer.

We first met Karen in 1984 when she and Ben had just started in the kitchen at the old La Residence in Chapel Hill, she bought some of the very first raspberries and blackberries we produced.  We followed them out to The Fearrington House supplying them with berries for her increasingly incredible deserts and when they started the Magnolia Grill in Durham in 1986 we were there with berries, flowers and vegetables.

Our relationship grew over the three plus decades into a rare one-of-a-kind with both our professional sides which we wrote about in 2012 when they closed the Magnolia Grill and in the last dozen years with our personal travels together to explore some of the great food places in the world.  It was Karen’s crazy, relentless reading and research that took the four of us to amazing off the beaten path food experiences as good as or better than the famous Michelin starred places.  We now know how special our last trip together in October was.

Of course it was more than food.  There were long, usually late at night, conversations about all subjects from running intense hands-on businesses to the Me Too movement.  Karen always had deep insight and thoughtful commentary that we will miss dearly.

Yes she was awarded the Best Pastry Chef in the United States but the sweetest part of Karen was always her calmness, sly smile and sideways glance that sent a message that only you knew what that meant.  We will miss her terribly as colleagues and friends and are heartbroken for Ben, Gabe and the family.

Picture of the Week

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 Enjoying each other’s company in Spello, Italy

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 9 #7, 5/4/12

What’s been going on!

There was a great disturbance in the Force this week.  It happened at 9:32 a.m. on Wednesday and it has taken us until now to begin to process its effect on us and Peregrine Farm.  The private email, to just a handful of people, landed in our inbox at that time, announcing that Magnolia Grill would close the end of the month.  We both were speechless and just said “Wow?!”  After a quick phone conversation with Ben just to confirm all was good (and to get Wednesdays order for lettuce and turnips) we spent the rest of the day with an unknown emotion.

Those of you out there who have worked at one single occupation with passion, focus and drive for 30 years stand up.  Now all of you who have done so alongside your spouse day in and day out, 24/7, for 30 years keep standing (looks like maybe a few couples).  Those of you who have operated a hands on business, with your spouse, alongside another couple run business, on parallel and connected tracks for 30 years?  OK everyone else sit down because that is the relationship we have with Ben and Karen and Magnolia Grill.

Is the Grill our largest account or most important revenue stream that the loss of will create problems for Peregrine Farm?  No, but it has been an important source of ideas, guidance, inspiration and collaboration.  Why do we grow the white Japanese turnips, pick our beets just a certain size or grow certain tomato varieties?  Why do we harvest and pack in certain ways and at specific times?  Because the Grill was the level of quality we needed to jump to, to run our business successfully, if it was good enough for Ben and Karen then it was good enough for anyone.

Much has already been said and printed about Magnolia and its influence on the local restaurant scene and food system, all true and not really enough credit ever given.  We have talked with them for years about the end game, so are not surprised by their decision and are happy for them and proud of their ability go out at the top of their game.  We know that they have a backlog of things they want to do and we plan to do some of those things with them, until then Ben, Sam’s chair will be ready for you at market.

Picture of the Week

We plan to do lots of this in the future!

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