About Us

BugFest Critter Cook-off to feature the culinary stylings of local chefs from the Angus Barn and Sono

Media Advisory
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — September 13, 2011
Contact: Emelia.Cowans@naturalsciences.org; 919.733.7450, ext. 305


RALEIGH — The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ annual BugFest Critter Cook-off, the official start to BugFest 2011, kicks off on Friday, September 16 at 11 a.m. in the Treasures Hall of the Museum. This Iron-Chef style media preview has been a crowd pleaser for more than ten years. Chef Jim Long, Executive Sous Chef at the Angus Barn will compete against Chef Michael Lee, Executive Chef of Sono Japanese Restaurant for the title of BugFest Critter Cook-off Champion 2011!  Media and the public are invited to attend.

Each chef has 50 minutes to create an appetizer, entrée, dessert and mystery dish using mealworms (mealworm beetle larvae), wax worms (caterpillar larvae of wax moths), crickets, super worms (darkling beetle larvae) and a “mystery” bug.  Each dish will be judged on taste, originality and presentation. The chef whose buggy grub wows our panel of celebrity judges earns the title of BugFest Critter Cook-off Champion 2011!

Returning this year is a panel of esteemed, seasoned bug eaters! Steve Daniels, ABC-11; Karen Clark, Foxy 107/104; Penn Holderness, NBC-17 and Director of the Museum’s new wing, the Nature Research Center, Dr. Meg Lowman are indeed in for a treat! Zack Lemann, Staff Entomologist at the Audubon Insectarium and a judge from last year, will be our special guest. Lemann considers himself an entomophagist, a person well-versed in the world of bug dining, and will give several bug-cooking demonstrations for the public on Saturday at BugFest!

BugFest 2011, the largest single-day bug centered event in the country, takes place on Saturday, September 17 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with free admission and activities. Friday’s Critter Cook-off will last about an hour, with opportunities for the media to interview chefs and judges and sample the critter concoctions.

BugFest Critter Cook-off 2011

Chef Bios 

Michael Lee, Executive Chef, Sono, Raleigh

Michael Lee is the Chef/Owner of Sono Japanese Restaurant in downtown Raleigh.  He started his apprenticeship in 1994 under a master Washoku chef.  Working at local restaurants even during his high school years has helped him to learn fast and adapt to the unique style of Japanese cooking . After years of training and working as an executive chef to help open many successful restaurants around the country, Chef Michael opened Sono in 2007.  Since then he has been working hard to adapt and create cuisines that are unique and local to satisfy the taste buds of the triangle 

Jim Long, Executive Sous Chef, Angus Barn, Raleigh

Jim Long is a 1992 graduate of Wake Technical Community College’s culinary program and has worked at the Angus Barn for nearly 20 years. He’s been Sous Chef to Iron-Chef Walter Royal for 15 years. Royal defeated Iron-Chef Cat Cora in 2006.

Judge Bios

Dr. Meg Lowman, Director, Nature Research Center at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Meg Lowman pioneered the science of canopy ecology. For 30 years, she has designed hot-air balloons and walkways for treetop exploration to solve mysteries in the world’s forests, with special expertise on the links between insect pests and ecosystem health. Meg is affectionately called the “Mother of Canopy Research” as one of the first scientists to explore this “eighth continent.”

Steve Daniels, Anchor, ABC-11

Steve Daniels just can’t get enough of those buggy dishes, returning as a judge for the 3rd year. Steve is co-anchor of the ABC-TV 11 Eyewitness News. Prior to coming to the Triangle, he traveled the country and the world reporting stories for “Dateline NBC.” Steve has also been a contributor on the “Today” show, “NBC Nightly News,” MSNBC and CNBC. He’s won seven Emmys and several other national awards for outstanding investigative reporting.

Karen Clark, News & Public Affairs, Foxy 107/104, Radio One Raleigh

Karen Clark is a graduate of the School of Journalism at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before she began working with Foxy 107/104, Karen pursued a commercial broadcast career, and then moved into the music industry as the Promotions Manager with Columbia Records. After seven years in the music industry, Karen started Something Borrowed, Something Blue, a wedding and event planning company based in Raleigh.

Penn Holderness, Anchor, NBC-17

Penn Holderness is a Durham native and graduate of Durham Jordan High School. Penn went to college at the University of Virginia and majored in philosophy, but took a crack at journalism after graduation as an intern for the WTVD ABC11 sports department. His first on-air job in was in Grand Junction, Colorado, then Penn moved to Orlando for five years. He hosted three seasons of "Designer Finals" on HGTV and hosted a college hoops show on CSTV with former Tar Heel Coach Matt Doherty. Most recently, Penn worked as a video essayist for ABC and ESPN while living in New York. Penn, his wife and two kids are thrilled to be back in the Triangle, closer to their families who reside in the area.

Special Guest

Zack Lemann, Visitor Programs Manager for the Audubon Insectarium

Zack Lemann, a former BugFest Critter Cook-off chef, is lending his expertise this year as a judge. Zack has appeared on numerous TV programs, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Maury Povich Show, and The Today Show, introducing the public to his unique passion of bug cooking. Zack travels the world as a “bug chef,” spreading the word about a diet of the planet’s most plentiful source of protein.

Terminix Co. of Eastern North Carolina is the Lead Sponsor of BugFest. Additional sponsors include Armstrong Cricket Farm, Bruegger's Bagels, Caribou Coffee, Pepsi Bottling Ventures, and Whole Foods Market. All BugFest activities are free (unless otherwise noted on-site).
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, 11 West Jones St., Raleigh, documents and interprets natural history of the state of North Carolina through exhibits, research, collections, publications and educational programming. Find more information online at naturalsciences.org<http://naturalsciences.org>. Hours: Mon-Sat., 9am-5pm and Sun., Noon-5pm. General admission is free. The Museum is an agency of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary.