Bill Smith Roast to Benefit EmPOWERment

Who Who

EmPOWERment Roasts Chef Bill Smith

Join us for an evening of roasting and toasting one of Chapel Hill’s best-known cooks, characters and raconteurs. Friends, fans and well-wishers will honor Bill with a night of laughter, stories and Southern food and drink. Bill Smith helped put Crook’s Corner on the map with his culinary skills and 2005 cookbook, Seasoned in the South: Recipes From Crook’s Corner and From Home. A nationally-recognized expert on Southern food, Bill’s famed and eclectic recipes include his Atlantic Beach Pie, both Red Hot and honeysuckle sorbets, soft-shell crab, and many other delightful ways to put some South in your mouth.

Bill isn’t just a leader in the kitchen. He’s a committed community advocate who supports affordable housing and economic development in downtown neighborhoods. Bill spearheaded efforts to help Crooks’ Latin American staff gain the legal documentation necessary to live safely and without fear of deportation. Bill also managed to get arrested during one of North Carolina’s Moral Monday protests, proving he represents the best traditions of both Southern hospitality and community fellowship. For his talents and efforts he is arguably our state’s most beloved chef.

Emcee of event:

  • Orange County Commissioner Mark Dorosin


  • Ben Barker, formerly Magnolia Grill
  • Sheri Castle, food writer
  • Ashley Christensen, restaurateur and chef
  • Marcie Cohen Ferris, food writer
  • William Ferris
  • Sandra Gutierrez, food writer​
  • Matt Neal, Neal’s Deli
  • Moreton Neal, food writer​


  • Dave Alworth, Guglhupf
  • Jeremy Blankenship, Carolina Inn
  • Al Bowers, Al’s Burger Shack
  • Justin Burdett, Crook’s Corner
  • Spring Council, Mama Dip’s Kitchen
  • Vimala Rajendran, Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe
  • Andrea Reusing, Lantern
  • Ricky Moore, Saltbox Seafood Joint
  • Angela Salamanca, Centro
  • Queen Precious-Jewel Zabriskie, Indulge Catering, LLC


  • Dylan Branson
  • William Ferris
  • John Dee Holeman
“Support emPOWERment is how I want to live.”
-Bill Smith, Chef & Author

What and Why What and Why

An important fundraiser for a Chapel Hill treasure – EmPOWERment, Inc.

Crook’s Corner’s next-door neighbor is the non-profit organization EmPOWERment, Inc., whose mission is to empower individuals and communities through community organizing, affordable housing, and grass-roots economic development. Established in 1996 by UNC-Chapel Hill Social Work students, today EmPOWERment focuses on providing low-cost, high-quality rental units, as well as counseling for ownership preservation and foreclosure management. Bill Smith’s support has been a boon for the organization and for Chapel Hill families and individuals who face economic hardship and disadvantage.

The Roast & Toast will also feature a pop-up bookshop from McIntyre’s Books. Over the past 28 years, McIntyre’s has developed one of the largest author events programs in the South and hosts nearly 150 author events annually, giving local and nationally-recognized authors like Bill Smith a platform to share their stories.

When and Where When and Where

November 15, 2019
6:00pm - 10 pm
Hill Room, Carolina Inn

The historic Carolina Inn has welcomed university and town visitors since 1924. The only on-campus hotel at the University of North Carolina, The Carolina Inn has earned the AAA Four Diamond Award annually since 1997 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Join us for a festive evening saluting Bill Smith at this Chapel Hill landmark.


Tickets Tickets

An exclusive event for 300 guests.
Tickets are $125.00 per person
Buy Tickets in Person:
109 North Graham Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27516