The newly released food-focused documentary goes behind the scenes through lunch rush and nightcaps, from midnight bakery shifts to 7 am seafood deliveries, as Durham chefs hustle through the pulse of a dynamic restaurant scene. Charting 24 hours in the life of some of the bull city’s best local chefs and tastemakers, Food Town: Durham, NC gives viewers a unique behind the scenes look at the city and some of its signature cuisines.

The Food Town: Durham, NC show, which is available for live streaming / on demand on PBS was conceived by filmmaker Cynthia Hill and her Durham, NC based television and film production company, Markay Media, which also produces the Emmy, Peabody and James Beard award-winning series, A Chef’s Life starring NC based chef Vivian Howard. The new Food Town concept was executed by emerging filmmaker David Mayer, a resident of Durham with close ties to the community.

“There is beauty in the restaurant world, how this frenetic environment has elements of choreography… As director and cinematographer, David’s long, fluid shots slow down the experience for the audience, so they can really experience the beauty of it all. Food Town captures the 24-hour life cycle of eight of Durham’s most noted chefs and restaurateurs. And just as the clock moves, so does a Food Town. A 4 am. alarm wakes a pastry chef and gives way to a sunrise meditation before a delivery of fish; a bustling lunch rush leads to the calm before dinner. The camera moves from scene to scene with the agility of a chef wielding a favorite knife or a waiter working a full dining room…”

— Cynthia Hill, Director/Producer/Founder


Hill was inspired to do this project in the place she now calls home. A former tobacco town in North Carolina, Durham has quickly become a national darling in America’s culinary landscape, boasting more than 75 restaurants in the downtown city center alone. Within the last decade or so, Durham’s restaurant scene has exploded in popularity, with no less than 25 contenders at the James Beard awards in the last two years, and being named the “Tastiest Town in the South” in 2013 by Southern Living magazine and “Foodiest Small Town in America” in 2008 by Bon Appetit magazine.

Durham’s local chefs have helped the city earn that reputation by offering true Southern hospitality. As chef and restaurateur Ricky Moore of Saltbox Seafood Joint puts it, “You’ve got a community of restaurateurs and chefs who really want to take care of the people.” Food Town highlights the work of Moore and other well respected Durham chefs and restaurant owners.

Featuring Well-Established Local Durham Chefs

  • Michael Lee of M Sushi, M Kokko and M Tempura
  • Gray and Cara Brooks of Pizzeria Toro, Littler, Jack Tar, and the Colonel’s Daughter
  • Kelli and Billy Cotter of Toast and Dashi Ramen
  • Scott Howell of NanaSteak, NanaTaco, Bar Virgile and DeeLuxe Chicken, the latter which is expected to open later this year
  • Phoebe Lawless of the now-closed Scratch and The Lakewood

The 26-minute long video is available for streaming at PBS and will also air on local TV stations later this month. A day in Durham is sliced, fried, and diced into a fast-paced countdown of 24 hours inside the Bull City’s hip and happening restaurant scene. Viewers meet the eccentrics, gastro-nerds, and entrepreneurs who helped create the South’s recently-crowned “Tastiest Town.” Packed with flavorful explorations from sunup to sundown, go inside kitchens and dining rooms.

The film was made with support from the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, the county’s marketing agency focused on promoting Durham, NC to visitors. Currently, the Markay team is contemplating the next “Food Town” they’d like to explore. “Restaurants, and food, generally, are a great way to get to know a place,” Hill says. “They are a window into a community’s character. And Durham proves, you don’t need to be a huge city to have a vibrant restaurant scene — or be one heck of a Food Town.”


Markay Media is a Durham, N.C.-based television and documentary film production company. Founder and Emmy award-winning director Cynthia Hill is also known for her work on the Emmy, Peabody and James Beard award-winning television show, “A Chef’s Life,” the Emmy-nominated HBO documentary film “Private Violence” and “Road to Race Day,” an eight-part series that delves into the inner-workings of Hendrick Motorsports, one of NASCAR’s winningest teams. For more, visit


The Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB) is Durham’s marketing agency. It is chartered as a tourism development authority by the NC General Assembly and local governments to spearhead the proactive, strategic, visitor-centered economic and cultural development of Durham by reinvesting a portion of the visitor-paid room occupancy and tourism development tax in destination promotion and marketing. For more information, please visit, or follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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