Dickson and Adams Team Up to Open PICNIC in Durham
“Barbecue Man” Wyatt Dickson and chef/partner Ben Adams have teamed up with Green Button Farm’s Ryan Butler to open PICNIC, a modern roadside barbecue joint located in Durham, North Carolina, where authentic whole hog barbecue—smoked slowly over oak—will share the plate with Adams’ seasonal Southern sides and desserts.
Dickson, who developed a cult-like following catering “Pig Whistle” barbecue to friends, family, chefs, and Crooks Corner’s Carolina ‘Cue Wednesdays, will use Green Button Farm’s heritage breed pigs exclusively at PICNIC.
“Once I discovered pastured pigs, there was no looking back,” explains Dickson, who prefers these pigs for their flavor and well-marbled fat. “These hogs are bred well, and raised well—on squash, pumpkins, and acorns—and they develop naturally, so it really lends to cooking and honoring the whole animal.”
“This is what it’s all about for us, to see these healthy hogs our family has raised used for such a delicious tradition,” adds Green Button’s Ryan Butler.
The smokers—like the pastured pigs—are all part of PICNIC’s plan to deliver authentic North Carolina barbecue, sustainably. Dickson custom-designed his smokers with fuel efficiency in mind. Innovative, eco-friendly and smart, they burn less fuel, and give him precise control over smoke and temperature.
Dickson’s whole hog barbecue is always pulled to-order—never chopped—and finished with his Pig Whistle sauce, dubbed the “Great Carolina Compromise” for its combination of vinegar and tomato. Lexington or Eastern style? Piedmont-style barbecue, according to Dickson.
Picnic will serve as an inspired meat-and-three destination thanks to Chef Ben Adams, who earned four stars and a loyal following as executive chef of Durham’s Piedmont in 2014. To serve alongside Dickson’s Whole Hog Sandwiches with Green Goddess Dressed-Slaw, Adams will tap into local farms to produce the Southern dishes expected at a community barbecue.
Southern classics—“old school” Brunswick Stew, Blackened Catfish, Pig Whistle-brined Deviled Eggs, and Bacon-Braised Collards—will share the table with progressive Southern restaurant fare—Smoked Buttermilk Fried Chicken, North Carolina Crab Beignets, Braised Short Ribs, craft cocktails, Fullsteam, and Ponysaurus on draft.
Pastry Chef Maddy DeBoer’s “from scratch” Southern classics—cakes, hand pies, and cobblers—are updated, but recall the unfussy sweets that were once standard fare at pig pickins’ across the South. Don’t leave without trying her Moscow Mule layer cake—an adaptation of a Coca-Cola Cake—the layers made with gingerbeer, lime curd filling, and ginger-lime cream cheese frosting.