JBF Award Semifinalist Phoebe Lawless

Image courtesy of Scratch Baking
 
Phoebe Lawless is the owner and chef of Durham, North Carolina’s Scratch Baking.
 
During her time as baker and pastry chef at Durham, North Carolina’s Magnolia Grill under the guidance of James Beards Award-winning Ben and Karen Barker, Lawless developed an understanding of the delicate balance of texture, temperature, and flavor necessary to produce complex desserts and good, delicious food, and she conveys this same respect in her work today. The menus at Scratch are a reflection of her love of local sourcing and classic southern technique.
 
Throughout her career Phoebe Lawless has been committed to the promotion of sustainable food systems, and the benefits of being connected to the foods we eat. She has been an active member of the Southern Foodways Alliance, Chefs Collaborative, and SlowFood USA, and is former co-chair of the  SlowFood Triangle chapter. Phoebe also teaches cooking and baking demonstration classes in pastry and the craft of piemaking at her bakery.
 
Scratch Baking specializes in Southern-style dishes, despite Lawless not being from the South. “My affinity for [Southern food] isn't so much because it's Southern, but it's because it's where we are and I like the idea of cooking from a place and for it to have perspective. We have such variety and incredible indigenous ingredients here,” she says.
 
“Pie isn't Southern, really. We've adapted pies that might have traditions in other areas of the country or world, and adapted them to the ingredients that we source here.”
 
Her pies and Community Supported Pie program have been featured in Bon Apetit, Gourmet, Food and Wine, Saveur, the New York Times, USA Today, and North Carolina’s Our State magazines.
 
Lawless says that she wants to create a certain experience for her customers. “I want the focus to be the food. I always wanted the focus to be the food and to have everything work to support that, and to really celebrate and showcase what this area produces and what you can do with it,” she told the Durham, North Carolina Convention & Visitors Bureau in an interview.
 
Phoebe Lawless was a 2013 and 2014 semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Pastry Chef award, and in 2015 and 2016 for Outstanding Baker.