Cassie Parsons: Restaurateur of the Year

In 2004 Cassie Parsons started selling pork from her ten-acre Grateful Growers Farm to high-end Charlotte restaurants, many of which had never before carried locally raised meat. In 2009 she brought the city its first upscale food truck and kick-started the national trend locally.

And in 2010 she opened Harvest Moon Grille, one of the city’s best restaurants, where almost every item on the menu is grown or raised within 100 miles of Charlotte. Despite dealing with the difficulties faced by all trailblazers, Parsons has been thoughtfully improving the city’s culinary scene for years.

In 2011, the petite farmer and chef has undoubtedly risen to the position of the city’s biggest advocate for eating local—and both her restaurant and her cart offer plenty of tasty fare to back up her claims. The cart, which continues to be popular on the streets, was Parsons’ first step in sharing the local food gospel. “I thought it would be good to elevate the quality of the food on the street,” says Parsons of her choice to launch her famed food cart. “And I was good at making pork.”

And of her decision to finally enter the kitchen of her own brick-and-mortar business? “I saw it as a great opportunity to use a different venue to spread the word of local food.”

Preach on, Parsons. Charlotte is finally listening.

Categories: Feature, The Buzz