Ben and Karen Barker

Magnolia Grill (CLOSED) Durham, NC 27705

The husband-and-wife team of Ben and Karen Barker has been serving traditionally inspired, ingredient-driven Southern food at Durham’s Magnolia Grill since 1986, long before restaurants in the area began to call themselves “farm-to-fork.” A native of the North Carolina Piedmont, Ben draws upon childhood memories of his parents’ and grandparents’ culinary techniques and use of farm-fresh vegetables. Karen, a native Brooklynite, has been baking for most of her life and now relishes the chance to pick fresh berries in the summer. The two met on the first day of culinary school and have been cooking together ever since. They are among the Carrboro Farmers’ Market’s most loyal patrons, having built close relationships with many of the farmers.  Though Magnolia Grill is consistently lauded as one of the best restaurants in the South and has garnered praise at the national level, the Barkers insist that much of their success lies in the quality of their ingredients.

Date of interview:

July 10, 2011


Kate Medley


Kate Medley

Magnolia Grill - Ben and Karen Barker - Carrboro Farmers Market
More importantly still, that Market represented, for us, a way to maintain an absolute finger on the pulse of the rhythm of the season, so that you’re always cooking at the time when things were at their best.

Explore Media