So I'm kind of obsessed with EPIC Food Company. It's easily in the list of my top 5 favorite places to eat in Wilmington and if you haven't been there before you need to check it out ASAP! Every menu item is a taste explosion of whole foods and fresh ingredients. And the real kicker is that the food is actually good for you too! Chef and owner James Bain is an avid surfer & paddle boarder and is as passionate about his food as he is spending time in the surf. I sat down with him recently to find out more about this magical place called EPIC...
What is your culinary background?
I grew up right here in Wilmington and spent most of my younger years surfing. I would work in various restaurants, save up enough money to travel to places with waves (like Hawaii & Australia), surf until my money ran out, and then get another job at a restaurant. I repeated this cycle for quite a while until I decided I should do something with my life. I then enrolled in culinary school at Johnson & Whales and became a chef and worked in fine dining for the next 10 years.
What inspired you to open EPIC?
I'm curious by nature and when I start learning about something new I really delve in. As my career as a chef progressed I naturally began wanting to know more about nutrition. I also started getting into paddle boarding and triathlon. I realized that what you get out of your body is equivalent to what you put into it. I wanted to shift gears away from heavy French-style and rich Southern-style cooking and focus on making delicious healthy food to fuel an active lifestyle. I also wanted a new challenge!
What does the name EPIC mean to you?
Epic is an adjective frequently used by surfers to describe the condition of the surf when the waves just can't get any better! Additionally EPIC stands for "Energetic People In the Community." The thought behind the design of the restaurant was for it to be a place where active members in the community can come together to share good times and good eats. We have a chalk wall where we write all the upcoming local races so everyone always knows the time and place of the next event!
What is your food philosophy?
I believe that the best dishes are created from using fresh and natural ingredients. My signature is surprising the palate with just the right amount of acidity and always using fresh herbs! I purchase local and organic ingredients whenever possible and only use organic, grass-fed proteins.
What is your favorite item on the menu?
I love vegetables so one of my favorites is the Hawaiian Salad, which is bean sprouts, pickled radish & cucumber, cilantro, tomatoes, ginger veggies, and scallions on top of a bed of fresh baby greens.
So of course I have to put in my two cents here - my favorite thing to get is a bowl of brown sticky rice topped with pressed tofu, edamame, roasted red peppers, string carrots, sweet potatoes, and bok choy with a spicy peanut sauce! It's soooo good, soooo healthy, and filling too!
EPIC is located in the forum across from Mayfaire. If you want to try some of this tasty food come to my nutrition talk tomorrow at 12:30 at TOPS Athletics where we will be sampling some of his excellent fare. See ya there! :-)