Peter Taylor, the producer and director behind Charlotte’s culinary video series OrderFire, has lived all over the country: Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, California, Florida, Washington, DC, Arizona. Yet Charlotte is the city he has called home for more than a decade. And, as a food photographer, he has found himself in a particular kind of paradise.
“Unlike other cities I’ve lived in with huge food scenes and superstar chefs, Charlotte is just blossoming, and we are making our own chef superstars,” says Taylor.
And he’s not wrong; Charlotte’s culinary culture is in the midst of a coming-of-age moment. New restaurants are opening almost faster than Queen City residents can sample them. Thrillingly, most of Charlotte’s newest additions are chef-driven ventures designed to showcase innovation and an unadulterated passion for food.
Charlotte’s Community of Culinary Artists
Taylor has noticed another quality unique to Charlotte’s food scene: cooperation. “The way the chefs here work together and help each other is incredible,” says Taylor. “I’ve been in a local kitchen where a delivery of something didn’t arrive. In the middle of dinner service, that chef called another chef, who offered whatever they had and saved the night.”
Not only is this cooperation unique, it’s also hidden. At most restaurants, guests have no idea what’s happening behind the scenes—the blood, sweat, tears, and love that comprise a successful culinary enterprise.
“The more time I spent with chefs and farmers, the more I realized their conversations and their lives were full of fascinating stories that the average person never got to hear,” explains Taylor.
Thus fell the seedling that germinated into OrderFire.
Each 30-minute episode of OrderFire spotlights a different food service personality based in the Charlotte area. Jamie Lynch, the Kindreds, Ashley Boyd, and Greg Auten are just a few of the Charlotte big names lighting up Taylor’s screen. There, they converse casually with OrderFire’s host, award-winning chef and Order/Fire co-founder Marc Jacksina.
Rather than focusing on the cooking techniques and food flavors so often prioritized on food shows, Taylor and Jacksina wanted to shift viewers’ attention to the more human elements of the food and drink business.
OrderFire: A Labor of Love
Their dedication to humanizing Charlotte’s culinary scene continues even after the camera cuts off. Taylor forged a partnership between OrderFire and Free Range Brewing, which hosts viewing parties for each new OrderFire episode release.
The spirit of the viewing parties is celebratory and convivial, consistent with the dynamics among Charlotte’s food and beverage purveyors. Although the parties are free, OrderFire invites guests to purchase $10 raffle tickets, the proceeds of which are donated to a charity chosen by the featured guest of each episode. Since the airing of OrderFire’s first episode in 2017, the viewing parties have raised over $25,000.
For Taylor and Jacksina, OrderFire is a labor of love. Both founders have full-time jobs—Jacksina as Executive Chef at Earl’s Grocery and Taylor as a lifestyle, outdoors, and food photographer. Yet, as Season Five perches on the edge of its launch, Taylor doesn’t anticipate ending the series any time soon. How could he, when he believes one simple thing: “Everyone has a great story. Everyone. We could do twenty seasons of OrderFire and still not tell all the stories to found right here in Charlotte.”
Inevitably, as Charlotte’s food scene continues to proliferate, so too will the stories, and the city is all the tastier for OrderFire’s work to bring them to Charlotte gastronomists.