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Jun 13, 2012 04:41 PM

Chapel Hill - Chip Smith of Bon Soiree - At Celebrity Dairy?

I'm might have missed this in the news. I remember when Bon Soiree closed and I thought the owners were moving to New York City. I saw something in the Independent which mentioned their names (Chip Smith, Tina Vaughn) as being associated with Celebrity Dairy Farm. I took at look at the inn's website and it says the hosts for the inn are "Chip, Tina, and Brooke". Does anyone know if they stayed in the area and are with Celebrity Dairy Farm?

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  1. yes - the latest email i have from them comes from 'The Inn at Celebrity Dairy featuring Chef Chip Smith and Tina Vaughn'

    1 Reply
    1. re: cervisiam

      So are they cooking more than one Sunday a month now?

    2. Chip and Tina were fired from Celebrity Dairy recently. I don't know where they are currently working. My understanding is that the Dairy is trying to hire a female chef who used to work at the Aurora restaurant in Chapel Hill . Does anyone remember the food at that restaurant? My daughter is planning on getting married at Celebrity Dairy this fall. We are very concerned about the change in chefs, as the main reason we contracted with Celebrity Dairy was because of the great reputation of its food service. Yikes, any help would be appreciated.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Bubba10

        Oh my goodness. All this and all of the Magnolia Grill kitchen equipment and fixtures/furnishings were auctioned off a couple of days ago. Chip and Tina would've been a good pair to take over that space.

        1. re: Bubba10

          Any notion why they were fired? This doesn't make sense.

          1. re: veganhater

            I don't know, I was hoping someone in the local restaurant community would have more information. At the same time, the event co-ordinator, Brook, quit. Anyone with info about the Aurora restaurant chef?

            1. re: Bubba10

              I don't even remember such a restaurant ever being open in Chapel Hill. A google search shows that one by that name operated around the 2005-2006 timeframe, but that's about it. In all honesty, I'd look to changing venues if I were you and food is an important element.

              1. re: mikeh

                Ok, I just checked my notes- prospective new chef at Celebrity Dairy is named Gwen Higgins. Ring any bells?

                1. re: mikeh

                  I remember Aurora, the food was quite good. That's where the dept. chair took me for dinner when I was recruited at Duke. But keep in mind, coming from Tallahassee, Aurora was like the French Laundry compared to Tally restaurants at the time. They were at the Carr Mill Mall and then they moved to a location on Raleigh Rd. near Finley Golf Course. I think they went down-scale at the new location to appeal to a broader clientele and faded away.

                  1. re: bbqme

                    Yep, it was on the plot of land that is now the new UNC Imaging center. I never dined there. I always heard reasonably good things about it, but it looked seedy to me, so I never made an effort.

                    1. re: bbqme

                      I recall the same.

                      In the mid 90's Aurora (then in the Carr Mill Mall) seemed to me to be if not on par with, at least in the same ballpark as Il Palio (which was terrific at that time, if memory serves.)

                      Once they moved to the spot on 54, it fell off pretty fast.

                    2. re: mikeh

                      Thanks for your input, we are currently looking at bringing in a caterer

                      1. re: Bubba10

                        Boy, I'm showing my age here! Yes, Aurora was at Carr Mill (where Panzanella is now) and sort of a "cool" type place. I remember it being somewhat dark inside, but with terrific food. My recollection is owner got into dispute with Carr Mill owners regarding condition of building. They closed and moved over to Raleigh Road in empty restaurant that at one time had been called "The Pines". Aurora on Raleigh Road had several problems. First, they shared the building with a construction company. Construction company sign was bigger than Aurora sign, so it actually just looked like a construction company building. Second, space was huge and dining area got crazy loud. We would eat in the bar space. It's true, they really lost business when they moved from Carr Mill to Raleigh Road (and I think there was about a year gap between closing and reopening, if my recollection is correct)

                        1. re: wintersummer

                          The other issue was that when they moved to Raleigh Road, they changed their entire menu concept. With their new kitchen they became a grill, and their menu became what is known in the business as "grill and garnish". Very quickly they shifted their plating too so that every grilled plate, from fish to lamb to chicken to beef, had the same three-sides-of-the-day. They had a very good pasta chef, who did all housemade pastas, but the menu stopped being a coherent "Northern Italian" with appetizers, primi (mostly pastas including half portions) and secundi. Instead it seemed to become an upmarket Applebee's plus a lively pickup bar. And so it goes ...

              2. Yes I mentioned this awhile back and Chip mentioned it when he did his Southern Season class. I think the way he put it was they were in a dating phase and may be progressing to taking it over down the line.

                Shoulda read the whole post. Strike my comment above.

                1. Sorry to bring this to the top after so long but I just got an email from a someone in NYC with a restaurant recommendation and high praise, and was surprised to see these familiar names.


                  5 Replies
                  1. re: D R C

                    Thanks so much for posting this - really interesting that they ended up back in NYC.

                      1. re: mikeh

                        Yep there was an earlier mention on twitter by someone else and when I posted it to her she mentioned she had a write up going on. Good to know.. Now who will be sending him Q and from where :-p

                    1. re: D R C

                      Three star review in the New York Times this week, The back and forth banter in the comments is mildly entertaining as well.

                      1. re: D R C

                        Thanks for the link. Good to see they are doing well, although it makes me seriously miss Bon Soiree. The lamb chops, by the way, were cooked beautifully in the picture