Oklahoma State football joined in the latest craze of the Mannequin Challenge — where you basically just act like a mannequin while a video camera follows you around — and it was done in pretty epic fashion. Even Gundy does the Gundy in mannequin form!You’ve never seen “The Gundy” look quite like this.#MannequinChallenge #okstate pic.twitter.com/ctnbCYRqdw— Cowboy Football (@CowboyFB) November 9, 2016 While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
WATCH: Mahomes connects with Giles to complete Texas Tech’s 11th sub-two minute TD drive of the season! #WreckEm pic.twitter.com/uGRF7mOPDT— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) September 17, 2016With 982 yards through nine games and 12 scores, he’s having one of the best seasons for a receiver in Tech history. He leads the team with 60 catches and is one of the most productive receivers in the country (12th in receiving yards per game and 18th in receptions per game).He has four 100-yard games to his record so far this year and recently torched the OU secondary for 167 yards and two scores. Considered the best athlete on the team, it’s time for some Real Talk with Ramon: Look out for No. 9.Linebacker Jordyn Brooks, No. 20It’s rare when a true freshman, especially at middle linebacker, can step in from day one and adjust to the physicality of Power 5 football, but Jordyn Brooks has done just that. He leads the Red Raiders in tackles (61) and leads all freshmen nationally in solo tackles per game (4.7).From the same high school in Houston that produced Andrew Luck, Brooks stands at 6’1”, 235 pounds and packs a punch in the middle of the defense.Starting in all nine of Tech’s games so far and as a member of his high school’s 4×100 meter team, Brooks has speed to chase down quicker players. Turning down offers from SEC schools like Arkansas and Missouri, Kingsbury and Co. were sure glad the big instate schools didn’t come after him as they look to have him running the defense for years to come.Defensive Tackle Ondre Pipkins, No. 9When Captain Khaki took over at Michigan, change ensued and some players in the program were sent packing to make room for scholarships and you won’t hear Texas Tech complain.Former Army All-American defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins struggled with injuries throughout his time in Ann Arbor and decided to follow the tumbleweeds to west Texas where he found a warm welcome in Lubbock.We continue our series of senior features leading into Saturday’s Senior Day with defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins. #WreckEm pic.twitter.com/yOtzY0PEyn— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) October 31, 2016The senior nose guard weighs in at a whopping 325 pounds and while his stats aren’t eye popping (28 tackles, four tackles for loss), his presence looks to have tons of positive effect on those around him. You could possibly draw a straight line from the success of middle linebacker Jordyn Brooks to Pipkins, who often draws a couple of blockers.Another underrated benefit for Pipkins is his mentorship of talented defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko, a true sophomore that will be counted on for leadership in coming years. With Pipkins in the starting lineup this season, their rushing defense has improved by nearly 50 yards per game, down to 236 from 280 in 2015. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. We have looked at the amazing Texas Tech offense and the putrid Texas Tech defense. Now it’s time to look at some players on both sides of the ball who could make some noise on Saturday in Stillwater.Players to WatchWhen Texas Tech and Oklahoma State get together, there are more fireworks than a Grand Lake 4th of July, let’s take a peek at who some of the major players on the Tech side of the game will be on Saturday afternoon.Quarterback Pat Mahomes II, No. 5Kansas Defensive Coordinator Clint Bowen: “He’s a magician. You can tell your kids, but over and over on film you see it. Someone has him dead to rights for a sack and he does something to get away.”Long before Patrick Mahomes II set his sights on the record books in Lubbock, Texas, he was taking grounders with Alex Rodriguez and shagging balls for Cowboy great Robin Ventura, always in tow as he followed around his father, Patrick Mahomes I, an 11 year MLB veteran beloved by New York Mets fans for an 8-0 season in 1999 that helped get them to the NLCS.Patrick II looked bound for professional baseball from an early age, earning a trip to the Junior League World Series when he was 14.Mahomes excelled in baseball, basketball and football at Whitehouse, his pedigree and talent meriting calls from MLB teams and being picked in 37th round by the Detroit Tigers in 2014.It only took one half of a game for Kliff Kingsbury to know he had found his quarterback, the only he would offer in the 2013 class. Mahomes stayed true to Tech and turned down LSU and Notre Dame when they called late.Mahomes made his first appearance as a freshman in relief of injured starter Davis Webb on a late September night in Stillwater, some might remember as the best game Daxx Garman played in the orange and black but Mahomes went two for five with a touchdown and an interception to Cowboy linebacker Seth Jacobs.It’s safe to guess he’ll look a bit better when he comes back this weekend.Coach Gundy spoke reverentially of Mahomes this week saying he’s “a potential first round pick. He reminds me a lot of (Dallas Cowboy quarterback) Dak Prescott… Style of play, body, strength, speed, ability to run and throw in different positions.”Dak Mahomes leads the nation in passing yards (3,886), passing yards per game (431.8), offensive yards per game (460.7) and is second nationally in points responsible for as he averages 27.3 points per game off of 31 passing touchdowns and ten rushing touchdowns.And while the statistics are incredible, Kingsbury gushes about Mahomes’ will to win, saying it’s “second to none.”It’s hard to accuse Mahomes of not leaving it all on the field with a sore shoulder in a close loss to Oklahoma last month when he completed 52 of 88 attempts through the air for an NCAA record 734 yards passing.I’m no NFL scout, but I’d say coming out to see Mahomes mix it up against Mason would be worth the price of admission given the likelihood you’ll be watching at least one NFL quarterback, maybe two.Wide Receiver Jonathan Giles, No. 9Mahomes’ favorite target is the 5’11”, 185 pound receiver that has really turned it on after a slow freshman year. It’s hard to blame him, he was recruited by numerous FBS programs (Houston, Colorado, Indiana and more) to play quarterback like he did in high school.After a solid year of learning how to block and picking up the route trees, he’s really blossomed as a sophomore. He measures at 5’11” and 185 pounds with dazzling athleticism in the open field with an eye for the end zone.
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. The 2017 Big 12 schedule has been released, and Bedlam has been moved, like we thought, to the beginning of November. The last time it was played before the end of November was the last year before Mike Gundy became head coach in Stillwater, 2004. It was actually played in October that year.The reason for the move is because the Big 12, understandably, does not want two teams that play in the final week of the season to play in the very next week for the Big 12 title. OSU and OU will be the two favorites to play in the Big 12 Championship game going into the 2017 season. Thus the move. Although the Big 12 didn’t really this one.So dumb to move Bedlam and replace it with team that finished third. Amazing really. https://t.co/XvFbh5MCdD— Carson Cunningham (@KOCOCarson) December 13, 2016 Here is a count for all the months Bedlam has been played in.September: 1October: 19November: 76 (2017 will be No. 77)December: 15Here is a look at the full 2017 football schedule for OSU.Going to South Alabama is sort of embarrassing, isn’t it? Is that what big-time CFB programs do?Also, that at Texas, at WVU, OU at home stretch is monstrous. That three-week run will probably shape the Big 12 title game. Honestly, I’m good with OU being on the tail end of that. I want OSU and Mike Gundy thinking about Bedlam as little as humanly possible after what happened this year. Just go play the dang thing and stop thinking about it so much. Also, as many people pointed out on Twitter, OU will probably be Homecoming as well.
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Role in 2017This spring saw a position change for the redshirt sophomore. Carter, who has benefited from Rob Glass’ program to the tune of nearly 40 additional pounds, is too bulky for the edge and is moving to tackle.“When I got to 290, they were like, ‘OK you’re putting on a lot of weight,’” said Carter. “A defensive end I think typically weighs anywhere from 245 all the way to 275. Other than that, it was really just because I put on a lot of weight.”There will be a couple sets of big shoes to fill which should give Carter an opportunity. Just as Oklahoma State lost its two pillars on the edge in Emmanuel Ogbah and Jimmy Bean the year before, the Cowboys will have to replace mainstays Vincent Taylor and Mote Maile in the interior.Carter will vie for reps with the likes of Darrion Daniels, DeQuinton Osborne and Enoch Smith Jr. Overall the defensive line is as deep as one we’ve seen during the Mike Gundy era, and Carter figures to be a key contributor.Noteworthy Stats and HighlightsRecorded a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss (both career highs) against Colorado in last year’s Alamo Bowl. We are 99 days (or so) from the start of college football. To help you navigate this arid desert we call the offseason, we’re going to profile each player as we countdown to the first kickoff. Since we are 99 days out, we’ll kick off our list with No. 99, defensive-end-turned-tackle, Trey Carter.How he got to OSUDefensive line coach Joe Bob Clements plucked the three-star defensive end out of Pinkston High School in Dallas, Texas. 247 Sports ranked Carter as the No. 17 strong-side defensive end in the 2014 class and 48th-ranked player out of Texas. He turned down offers from the likes of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Miami to come to Stillwater.What he’s done in StillwaterAfter sitting out a redshirt year, Carter appeared in just one game in 2015. He took a step forward as a sophomore, appearing in 11 games and ended 2016 on a high note.During the Cowboys’ 38-8 dismantling of Colorado, Carter flashed signs of what coaches hope will be the norm from the Dallas native. Carter pitched in for two tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack inside the Alamodome. That was the most productive game of his career and should set him up for more reps in 2017.
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Entering the summer of what will be his junior season, Booker T. Washington safety Daxton Hill — the younger brother of All-American OSU running back Justice Hill — has seen a meteoric rise in his stock on the recruiting trail despite being held out most of the spring with an injury.The 6-foot-1 prospect from Tulsa has picked up scholarship offers from OSU, Ole Miss, Missouri, TCU, Michigan, Ohio State and Texas since the new year in addition to an offer from the Sooners that came on Christmas Day.Needless to say, business is boomin’.“Recruiting has been going really well, a lot of offers have been coming in for me. I’m just really thankful for that,” Hill told Pistols Firing. “I’m not going to be able to take any visits this month, but come July, I’ll take some unofficials. Recruiting is going well for me and I’m excited about that.” Hill says his first unofficial will be to the University of Arkansas in July, but plans after that are still being worked out. Because his recruitment is still blossoming, though, his ears are open to all schools — as is his visit schedule.“I’m going to take as many visits as I can. I know I can’t always stay home, you know, taking home visits [to OSU or OU]. I just gotta travel, explore, and see what all the universities have to offer,” he said, adding that his brother has been an encouraging voice throughout the process.“He’s just been congratulating me, just telling me to keep the good job up and to keep doing what I’m doing and to stay focused,” he continued. “He’s really just been telling me that even though he went to OSU doesn’t mean I have to follow in his footsteps. He wants me to weigh my options, and has told me I don’t need stay in Oklahoma just because I live here. He doesn’t want me to limit myself or my opportunities to just Oklahoma schools, so he’s encouraged me to explore all my options.”Hill’s rise as a recruit has been primarily at the safety position, where Oklahoma State has offered him. But he says Ohio State has offered as a cornerback, and schools aren’t set on bringing him in primarily as a safety. They just want him in the fold. Period.Being that Hill is just a Class of 2019 prospect and his recruitment is in its early stages, he’s made it a focus to keep open lines of communication with coaching staffs across the country as he learns about his opportunities he’ll soon have to choose from. Like Justice, who became commitment No. 1 for the Cowboys, he says he’s leaning towards an early commitment. But it’s still a fluid situation.“I’m probably not going to wait until my senior year on signing day,” he said about when his college decision might come. “I’ll probably do it early in my senior year or the summer of my junior year. I’m really not going to wait too long, but I don’t want to do it too early, either. I want to make a decision when I feel like it’s the right time.”
OSU offered Spiller back in June joining Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU, Texas A&M, Houston, Iowa State, Oregon, SMU, Rice and Tulsa. As of now, 247Sports has the Aggies as the overwhelming favorite to land him, which makes sense given the fact that his father is a Texas A&M alum.2019 athlete Garcia Breylon2019 athlete Garcia Breylon will be making an unofficial visit to Stillwater this weekend.The Cowboys are reportedly looking at the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder to play tight end. During his sophomore year, Breylon played both wide receiver and defensive end. It will be interesting to see if Breylon is interested in moving to tight end, or if he would rather go to a school that keeps him at wide receiver or defensive end.2019 center Branson BraggFinally, the top ranked center in the class of 2019, according to 247Sports, will have a busy weekend in the panhandle state. 6-foot-4, 280-pound center Branson Bragg will make a stop in Stillwater. He also plans to visit Tulsa and OU this weekend.As I mentioned, Bragg is ranked as the No. 1 center in 2019. That would explain why he already has nine offers including Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, Kansas, Tulsa, Rice, SMU, and North Texas.Bragg made a visit to Texas last weekend and since then, the Longhorns have been the favorites to land him. I’ll say this, if there is one coach I have faith could lure an offensive lineman away from a program like Texas, it’s Josh Henson.2018 running back Jahmyl JeterSMU running back pledge Jahmyl Jeter will be among the group visiting Stillwater this weekend, according to gopokes.com. Jeter picked up an offer from OSU earlier this spring and, while he remains committed to the Ponies, he also remains interested in shopping around.The rising junior from San Antonio had an explosive junior season where he rushed for 1,576 yards and 16 touchdowns, and is a dynamic playmaker given his size at 200 pounds.2019 cornerback Deshawn GaddieArlington, Texas cornerback Deshawn Gaddie also confirmed an unofficial visit to OSU this weekend, making him the second 2019 cornerback prospect to make plans for Stilly for the weekend.Gaddie offer sheet to this point is non-existent, but coming from Lamar High School, his opportunities to this point have been limited. Gaddie could be a sleeper recruit OSU loves to sit on, and I like his 6-foot, 170-pound frame.2019 running back Titus SwenAll the running backs! Swen, a 2019 prospect who hails from Haslet, Texas, is yet another one planning to OV. The 5-foot-10, top 300 prospect with offers from KU, Arizona State, and SMU could be one of the many likely to come away with offers over the weekend. This is going to be a busy weekend for Mike Gundy and Co. in Stillwater. Not only do players start reporting to campus for fall camp, but a number of important recruits will also be stopping into town.This post will be updated as we gather more information regarding recruits planning to visit.2018 Tight End Barclay FordWhat I believe will end up being on of the two most important visits of the weekend is 6-foot-2, 225-pound tight end Barclay Ford. The three-star recruit from Forney, TX doesn’t currently have an offer from Oklahoma State, or any D-1 program at the moment.AdChoices广告Ford had a solid junior season catching 51 passes for 820 yards and three touchdowns. OSU obviously still has other tight ends they’re targeting, but after losing a commitment this past week, I can see them making Ford an offer this weekend (or at worst keep him on the back burner until closer to signing day). If they do, it may not be long before he accepts.2018 Tight End Tyrick JamesThe other most important visit of the weekend is 6-foot-2, 232 lb. tight end Tyrick James. The 3-star recruit from China Spring, Texas also does not yet have an offer from Oklahoma State. However, he does hold offers from Kansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, SMU, Texas State, and Tulane.With Nic McTear decommiting earlier this week, the Cowboys are back on the market for a tight end for their 2018 class. I expect them to offer either one of Ford or James, if not both to see how the chips sort themselves out.2019 Cornerback Marcus BanksOSU will get a visit from 6-foot, 170-pound cornerback Marcus Banks. The 3-star recruit out of Houston, TX does not yet have an offer from the Cowboys, though I, along with Kyle Boone, expect that to change this weekend.Banks does have offers from four other schools; Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M, and Tulsa. As of now (and I know it’s early) the Longhorns are the favorites to land Banks, according to 247Sports.2019 running back Isaiah SpillerAs we noted earlier this week, 4-star running back prospect Isaiah Spiller from Spring, Texas will make a trip to Stillwater. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. 2018 cornerback Erick HallettNearing 20 scholarship offers from the likes of Army, Memphis, Houston, Nevada, Liberty, and others, Hallett looks to secure an OSU offer during an unofficial visit this weekend. The 2019 prospect from Cy Fair listed at 5-foot-10 is a cornerback — a position OSU could use to strengthen its depth in the 2018 recruiting class alongside Jaelyn Nolan, Gabe Lemons, and JayVeon Cardwell.Also worth noting this weekend: GoPokes.com reports that OSU’s top linebacker target DaShaun White of Richland, Texas, is a “maybe” for the weekend. White is planning to attend OU’s blowout barbecue event — which takes place on Saturday.“I plan on seeing those guys maybe before the bbq event at OU,” he told gopokes.com.White is a four-star prospect and top-350 recruit in the 2018 class, who 247Sports projects will eventually commit to Oklahoma.Kyle Boone contributed to this report
Willis AnkleKentucky may have the best backcourt in the country, with Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray having fantastic seasons, but the Wildcats’ frontcourt hasn’t quite matched this season. UK has lost two of its last three games, dropping games to Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. Kentucky was out-rebounded in both contests. UK has been without one of its key forwards, junior Derek Willis, for two games after spraining his ankle against the Aggies. During today’s SEC teleconference, Calipari gave an update on Willis’ status.Cal says Derek Willis ran up and down the practice court yesterday. “I would say he’s getting closer. I would doubt he plays tomorrow.”— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) February 29, 2016Willis is averaging 7.8 points and four rebounds in just under 19 minutes per game this season. Kentucky and Florida tip off in Gainesville at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night.
by Kaitlyn Goalenphotographs by Jillian ClarkWhen it comes to Valentine’s Day, the last thing I want is the crowded, stressed-out environment of a completely booked restaurant. I much prefer to cook at home, with or for the object of my affection.While the majority of this year’s meal will likely come down to a game-day decision, I knew months beforehand what I want this year’s dessert to be: chocolate mousse.This basic dessert has everything going for it in the romance department. For starters, it’s French. What’s more, it features chocolate, the consumption of which on Valentine’s Day is something of an unwritten rule.And while I don’t expect to find any chocolate that is truly local – the cacao bean needs a tropical climate to flourish – Raleigh does have exceptional bean-to-bar producers within its city limits (for a story about them, see Walter’s August 2013 issue or waltermagazine.com).Escazu, which launched in 2006, was the first to offer the city a chocolate where producers were involved in the production process from start to finish, giving them complete control over the result. More recently, Videri Chocolate Factory has opened its doors, offering even more transparency into the process of making chocolate at their beautiful glass-encased factory.For my mousse, I chose Videri’s classic dark bar, because I wanted an intensely rich depth to my dessert. Then I sought out my two mousse ninjas, one close to home and one further afield.The first is Jody Williams, chef of Buvette, a tiny French boite in New York City’s West Village neighborhood. The mousse on that menu is the Platonic ideal, in my opinion, of what all mousse should be – crazy-dense, but somehow fluffy at the same time; so rich that you must cap it with some fresh whipped cream just to keep going. Furthermore, Williams is a romantic about the process, sweetly but firmly insisting that it comes out best when you whip the egg whites and egg yolks in separate copper bowls, as the French would do. It’s the type of ludicrous (copper bowls? are you kidding me?) but charming detail that adds to the allure of this dessert.My second reference is in Durham, at Vin Rouge Bistro. Chef Matthew Kelly has had chocolate mousse on the menu since the beginning, and it has become the most frequently ordered dessert by a long shot. He scoffed when I told him about Jody’s copper bowl technique – “that’s ridiculous,” he said – but Kelly has his own romantic ideas about the dessert. For one, his love for mousse is rooted in childhood nostalgia, born of a deep love for mousse’s American step-sister, chocolate pudding. Secondly, he serves the chocolate mousse at Vin Rouge tableside – a waiter comes over with a giant ceramic vessel of the stuff and scoops spoonfuls on to your plate. It’s a retro touch that adds an intimate whimsy to the meal.I pulled from both recipes in coming to my own. The resulting mousse makes way more than two people would ever need, and it’s a splurge to use Videri, which runs at $8 for two bars, but the luxuriousness of the finished product is as romantic as it gets.Chocolate Mousse Serves 8 to 10 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into cubes14 ounces Videri dark chocolate (or another high quality dark or bittersweet chocolate), chopped6 large eggs, separated, plus 3 egg whitesSalt6 teaspoons superfine sugarFreshly whipped cream, for servingIn a bowl set over a small pot of simmering water, add the butter and the chocolate and stir until melted and combined. Transfer to a large bowl.In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with a pinch of salt until they turn a pale yellow color.In a second large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form.Whisk a few tablespoons of the warm chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper it, then add the egg yolk mixture to the chocolate mixture in small additions, whisking each time to thoroughly incorporate before adding more. **Carefully fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.**Transfer the mousse to a large ceramic serving vessel, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.Serve by scooping out helpings of the mousse into ramekins and topping each with a dollop of fresh cream. Or, if you’re eating with your loved one, eat the mousse directly from the dish with spoons like it’s a pint of ice cream.*Note: If your mixture breaks — that is, if the fat from the chocolate separates and the whole thing looks like an oily mess — quickly heat about 1 cup of skim or lowfat milk in a microwave until warm. Then, with an electric mixer running, add the milk in a slow drizzle to the chocolate-egg yolk mixture until it re-emulsifies and becomes smooth again (you may not need to use the whole cup). Then proceed with adding your egg whites.
by Liza Robertsphotographs by Lissa GotwalsThe seven-minute drive from chef Scott Crawford’s house near Yates Mill Pond to the state farmers market takes him past acres of rolling pastureland and rows of corn. It’s a daily journey for him, through a part of Raleigh where food comes from: along stretches of country road, long-established farms, and N.C. State research fields.As the benchmark-setter for five-star dining in the Triangle for the past five years – in his role as executive chef of both Herons (named one of the “101 best places to eat in the world” by Newsweek in 2012) and the Umstead Hotel & Spa – Crawford has long had an intimate relationship with Raleigh’s local growers and world-class food. It has never been more apparent than now.That’s because the three-time James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef in the Southeast is setting out on his own to open two new Raleigh restaurants. In the process, he will be transformed: From the region’s fine dining exemplar to the creator of a new brand of locally grown, casual, regional, gourmet cuisine, served in freshly energized neighborhoods. His food will go from being appreciated by a lucky few to a happy many.With business partner John Holmes, Crawford, 41, plans to open Standard Foods, a restaurant/grocery in the North Person Street neighborhood this fall, and Nash Tavern, a “modern American” restaurant on Nash Square in 2015.“This is a smart move from Scott Crawford,” says author John T. Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance and a respected arbiter of Southern cuisine. “Raleigh is an ascendant American food city, developing a reputation as a culinary destination.” People everywhere, Edge says, but particularly in the South, “are in search of good eats and drinks that are everyday indulgences.”Business partners Scott Crawford and John Holmes have big plans for Raleigh diners. The first is Standard Foods, a restaurant/grocery in the revived North Person Street district. Also in the works is Nash Tavern, an informal “modern American” restaurant slated for next year in a historic building on Nash Square.No one more than Crawford. “I’m excited to have the freedom to cook the kind of food I like to eat every day,” he says, slate-blue eyes alight. “I’m so excited I can’t sleep.” Trim, with short, salt-and-pepper hair and his sleeves rolled down to cover arms-length tattoos, Crawford looks less like a food-loving chef than he does a fit executive – or someone who plays one on TV. But there’s nothing steely about his enthusiasm, or his lack of guile: “I wake up with ideas, I’m constantly writing down ideas. I’m excited to reach greater numbers of people.” Just talking about the ingredients he loves animates him. Describing shiso – an Asian herb he describes as “somewhere between basil and mint” and can’t believe is available for a few dollars for a big bunch just down the road – his customary polite, soft-spoken reserve gives way to gusto.Crawford says he aims to put fresh ingredients like this “on a plate at its peak of freshness” the way he learned to do while cooking in San Francisco years ago. Crawford can point to a single dish he ate there that changed his way of thinking about food. Already a working chef for several years at the time, he recalls that half a papaya filled with three oysters and a sprinkle of lemon juice hit him like a revelation. “Three ingredients. It literally changed my life.”And that of his young family, gathered on this summer day in the kitchen of the house they built a few years ago, tucked behind 1,500 acres of N.C. State agriculture research fields. Crawford was on the back of his Harley-Davidson here when he found the unbuilt street. Cut subtly through fields and trees, it afforded privacy, nature, peace, and space. He bought the first available lot. Crawford’s wife Jessica, a photographer, and their children, Jolie, 3, and Jiles, 6, are chatty, enthusiastic fans – of whatever Crawford comes up with, it would seem: places to live, things to eat, businesses to start. They’re excited about his restaurant plans, and lovers of just the kind of food he’s eager to make.As Crawford prepares a fresh tomato and watermelon salad, the two kids wait for him to finish, and then dig in with relish, slurping up wrinkly heirloom tomatoes in a lemony vinaigrette the way other kids might gobble fries.‘This is how we eat,” Crawford says. “We eat a lot – a lot – of salads.”Crawford’s instinct to pare things down to their essence has been there for a long time, he says. Now that his dream is about to come true, he’s making more than salads for his family as he creates recipes for both new restaurants.Standard Foods will be “a modern version of a neighborhood market,” he says. It will house a fishmonger, a butcher, local produce, dry goods, and prepared food that changes daily. A store suitable, he says, for both the foodie seeking fancy ingredients like duck fat, and the family around the corner who wants to put together a simple weekday dinner. Salads will factor in heavily, made with just-picked produce from next-door Raleigh City Farm and others; so will new twists on Southern dishes like boiled peanut chowder with fresh bacon, or tomato popsicles with spicy pickled okra. The restaurant will feature a 20-seat communal table, room for 60 more, and a long bar for lingering.Terrific timing For developer Holmes, whose persistent vision for the Person Street neighborhood has seen him working to make it a reality through ups and downs for a decade, meeting Crawford was a stroke of terrific timing. After a similar restaurant/grocery concept for the space with Chad McIntyre of the former Market restaurant fell apart, Holmes considered trying to pull it off himself.At the time, he didn’t know Crawford (other than by reputation, and through his food at Herons) and didn’t know the chef had been staying up until 2 a.m. every night after work for six long months, writing a business plan for his dream restaurant. He didn’t know that Crawford was ready to put the two-inch-thick plan to work.Holmes also didn’t know Crawford had been dipping his toes in the downtown waters – catering parties at the Contemporary Art Museum, for instance – and walking the streets to find his perfect spot. Or that the chef had seized on Nash Square as an ideal location; had even peered through the windows of a vacant three-story building on the south end of the square.That building, which hides a stately façade behind nondescript Modernist panels, was the site of the Raleigh Times from 1920 until 1955. (This was after the paper moved from its original homebase on Hargett Street, which now houses Greg Hatem’s The Raleigh Times Bar.) Holmes was the owner of the building and was getting ready to gut it and give it a complete historic renovation. He wanted a great tenant, preferably a restaurant, for the ground floor.When the two men met, and Crawford saw and loved the Nash Square building, Holmes knew he’d hit a jackpot: “I just didn’t anticipate we’d get someone of this caliber.”Then Holmes asked Crawford if he could show him another property. He took him to see the Person Street Plaza space. And before they knew it, the two men had formed Nash Square Hospitality Group – and were hard at work on plans not only for Crawford’s dreamed-of tavern, but for the restaurant/grocery as well. “Suddenly, we’re going ahead and doing two restaurants at once,” Crawford says. “And we’re both equally happy about both concepts.”Holmes admits: “We’re drinking from a firehose.”They can see it Crawford says he has a good feeling about both projects, in part because he can “see” them. He’s backed out of three deals in the last 10 years because he couldn’t. “In my life,” he says, “anything I can see, I can do. The stars all had to align for something like this to happen.”It’s clear, on a tour of both properties, that both he and Holmes have a gift for seeing what could be rather than what is. Right now, both spaces are shells. Unlit, blank slates. “Just standing here,” Crawford says, “I can see it.”“We’ll have a double-height ceiling for the bar,” says Holmes, gesturing around the dim space of the future Nash Tavern. “One hundred seats at least. Maybe an exposed kitchen.” He points to the brick wall that faces an alley to the east. Behind panels are steel casement windows, he says, that used to fill the pressroom with light from top to bottom. “We’ll return them.”The result will be “a modern take on the classic American tavern,” Crawford says, “where you can walk in and have a very casual experience, or you can dress up and make it a special occasion.”Holmes uses a flashlight app on his phone to light the way down into a damp, soot-black basement. “We’ll have special events down here,” he says. “Watch your step!”As with Person Street, Nash Tavern, Crawford and Holmes say, will provide an opportunity to bring a downtown “dead zone” to life. “With great food and great design,” Holmes adds, “we can revitalize the whole area.” The Nash Square location combines a beautiful but underused park with a street that links the Warehouse district with Fayetteville Street and beyond, he says. “To a small extent, we can make a difference. Food can revitalize areas of the city.”Crawford sees the future: “I can look at Nash Square five years from now, and it’s not going to look like this.” He gestures to empty sidewalks; to vacant benches under some of Raleigh’s most spectacular, hundred-plus-year-old oak trees; to the park’s four wide-open acres. “It will be vibrant.”Home baseCrawford shares Holmes’s belief that food can play an important role in the life of a city. He ought to – the Forbes five-star and AAA five-diamond awards he earned for the Umstead Hotel and Herons put them and the region on the culinary map, and gave the Triangle one of the top restaurants in the South. And Crawford’s done it before. He earned five stars from Forbes as executive chef at both Woodlands Resort & Inn in Summerville, S.C., and at The Cloister in Sea Island, Ga.With his own restaurants, Crawford will have the chance to make a mark entirely of his own. It’s something the Pennsylvania native has dreamed of since he started cooking at 17.That happened by chance, when a prep cook didn’t show up at the Florida seafood restaurant where Crawford was bartending and waiting tables. The chef asked him to fill in. “Apparently I cut everything better than anyone on his staff. He told me I should be cooking.” A few years in Florida restaurants led to culinary school, and then to San Francisco, where he ate that papaya-oyster dish, and learned to appreciate fresh ingredients.Several years in the early ’90s with the Ritz-Carlton at a time when the chain was opening dozens of hotels a year honed the skills that made Crawford the chef he is. More than anything, he says, working in hotels “taught me about service and how to pay attention to every detail.” He brought that intensity to Woodlands, where he turned Southern staple ingredients into something new alongside friend and sous chef Steven Greene, who introduced Crawford to his wife Jessica. (Until recently, Greene was the executive chef at Cary’s An; today, he has Crawford’s old job at the Umstead). In his next job at The Cloister in Sea Island, Crawford earned five stars for the brand-new $500-million hotel in an unheard-of 18 months.Crawford’s tenure at the Umstead – during which he says he had extraordinary support from Ann Goodnight, who runs the hotel and allowed him to redesign and build the kitchen to his own custom specifications – gave him a lasting legacy. “I was insanely committed to getting the Umstead to where I could be proud of it and where Mrs. Goodnight could be proud.”His peers were, too. “Chef Scott Crawford is awesome,” said Hugh Acheson, the James Beard award winner and chef and owner of Athens, Ga. restaurant 5&10. When Herons made the Newsweek list of 101 best places to eat around the world, Acheson called him “a really skilled guy. The man is bringing together everything and making it work.”Crawford makes cooking a family affair at home with his wife Jessica and children Jolie, 3, and Jiles, 6Big thingsIt’s a track record that predicts big things. Crawford’s wife, unsurprisingly, predicts them, too. She says she can imagine Standard Foods outposts in other nearby cities. She plans to be involved with both restaurants as a photographer and jokes she “might apply” for a job. “If I’m lucky, he might hire me as a hostess.” (Her own photography business is thriving).Both she and her husband expect to bring their kids along for the ride. “That way, we can all be a part of it,” Crawford says. Jiles, a smiley, self-possessed Scott Crawford lookalike, says he wants to cook with his dad one day. Jolie – a very grown-up 3 whom they refer to, jokingly, as “the threenager,” seems game for just about anything.Cooking and eating are just two of the things the family do together. Crawford has put his love of long Sunday motorcycle rides temporarily on hold because the four can’t do it together. Instead, he’s bought a deck boat (“because it’s safer for kids”) that they take out on nearby Lake Wheeler. The kids go tubing, Scott fishes, Jessica relaxes.“When I get out there on the water, it’s just peace,” Crawford says. “It’s hard to find. But if you can find that peace, you never burn out.”Watch the award-winning chef show you how to make a simple but delicious summer salad (recipe below).Scott Crawford’s Tomato, Watermelon and Cucumber Salad with Goat Feta and Basil1 cup cubed red watermelon1 cup cubed yellow watermelon1 cup sliced heirloom tomatoes1 cup sliced cucumber½ cup feta cheese(Scott uses Elodie Farms’ goat feta)¼ cup basil leaves2 tablespoons shiso leaves (an Asian herb that resembles a cross between basil and mint, available at the state farmers market)¼ cup basil vinegar (can substitute white balsamic vinegar)1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)½ cup extra virgin olive oilsea salt to tasteIn a mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar, lemon juice (if using), and olive oil. Add all other ingredients. Toss and allow to chill for one hour before serving.