Baking Happy with Chef Teddy Diggs
Tucked behind the trees and foliage on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill is an elegant hotel that resembles an Italian Tuscan Villa– the Siena Hotel and Il Palio restaurant. At first glance, it’s easy to see why this richly appointed Autograph Collection boutique hotel and restaurant has consecutively received the AAA Four Diamond Award since 1987 with its luxurious resort-like property. However, the true treasure can be found inside the Il Palio restaurant with its Executive Chef Teddy Diggs.
Chef Teddy is fairly new to the Triangle area since moving here a year and a half ago with his family from Martha’s Vineyard. As a father of two girls ages 7 and 5, Chef Teddy and his wife were looking for a place to plant roots and raise their family. Good schools, an international influence and nearness to family were major selling points to relocating his family to Chapel Hill, but the chart topper was a career opportunity at the Il Palio with management that was willing to provide a work/family life balance for their executive chef.
Currently the Il Palio restaurant is undergoing a major overhaul and renovation which includes new flooring and upholstery, but also a custom wood-fired grill (one of the first in this region) and new menu items including rethought pasta dishes, crostinis, and a wine collection boasting a collection from the 20 regions of Italy. While the restaurant is closed, Chef Teddy has been connecting and sharing his love of cooking in the Triangle community he now calls home.
My boys, Aiden (7) and Liam (4) had the opportunity to meet and cook with Chef Teddy. My youngest Liam was enthusiastic to meet a Chef that shared the name with his special lovey bear, Teddy. Liam has since changed his bear’s name to Chef Teddy after meeting Il Palio’s executive Chef.
The 31-year-old dad and chef surprised the kids with the honor of baking Nutella Cookies (see below for a printable recipe) in the Il Palio kitchen. The cooking session began with thoroughly washing their hands in which Chef Teddy instructed the boys to sing the Happy Birthday song twice before drying their hands.
With clean hands and eager smiles, the boys took turns cracking eggs into the shiny silver bowl and then measuring the ingredients. Chef Teddy had the boys use a scale to measure the flour, Nutella, and baking soda into the bowl. Their little fingers pinched flour in and out until the correct amount of grams was reached. With his commercial grade Kitchen Aid mixer, Chef Teddy mixed all the ingredients together. Mixing ingredients thoroughly is the key to baking, Chef Teddy explained to the kids.
While the cookies baked in the oven, Chef Teddy shared how his passion for cooking started when he was kid. Raised in a military family and constantly moving to a new location every two years, Chef Teddy used his new stations to his advantage to learn a different cooking cuisine. When he lived in Newport his mom and him had a challenge to try all the different types of clam chowders served throughout the region. The cooking spark ignited in the 3rd grade when Chef Teddy watched the up and coming Food Network with star chefs like Emeril. It wasn’t all about the cooking for Chef Teddy, but more about the smiles and making people happy.
Happy and overjoyed were the looks on my boys faces when Chef Teddy pulled the cookie sheet out of the oven and placed a cookie for each boy on their plate. They boys were too excited to wait for the ice cream and powdered sugar that Chef Teddy wanted to add to these decadent cookies. They impatiently took a bite of their cookies and with smeared Nutella on their faces thanked Chef Teddy for sharing his kitchen with them and teaching them the importance of cooking– making people happy.
We want to share our happy with you. Click the picture below to get a free printable of the Nutella Cookie Recipe. Enjoy!
Do you bake with your children? If so, please share in the comments below.
The Il Palio restaurant reopened on September 29, 2015. It’s a restaurant suitable for families and special occasions alike.