What does a PR agency do? Il Palio at the James Beard House

By Posted in - Awards & Case Studies on July 10th, 2018

Il Palio, Chapel Hill’s AAA-rated Four Diamond Italian restaurant, wanted to break into the national culinary scene and gain acclaim as one of the leading restaurants in the Southeast. When Il Palio turned to Clairemont Communications for help, Clairemont devised a creative tactic to target the innermost circle of food influencers, the James Beard Foundation, and forge relationships between Il Palio’s chef Teddy Diggs and these national culinary gatekeepers.


We positioned Chef Teddy to the James Beard Foundation as the country’s newest kind of “sommelier,” an olive oil expert, qualified by his extensive culinary experience in Italy’s olive oil producing regions. In addition, we seeded the social media landscape with posts that tied him to other James-Beard-winning chefs and James Beard Foundation activities to forge connections.

Clairemont leveraged the dinner as a news angle for busy New York food reporters. Pitches like “Olive You, Darling” utilized the upcoming Valentine’s season to include a timely editorial hook, while “Olive Oil: The New Wine” positioned olive oil as a luxurious, soiree-worthy staple for New York’s posh publications. Clairemont overnighted media kits featuring Teddy’s hallmark fresh Rosemary and Sea Salt Olive Oil Focaccia with an accompanying dinner invitation. Clairemont also leveraged the James Beard Dinner to boost visibility at home, inviting Raleigh influencers to join the dinner remotely via the James Beard live camera feed.


To ensure quality from start to finish, Clairemont held weekly client meetings to discuss dinner themes, messaging and tactics. We frequently toured the kitchen, interviewed staff and observed the cooking process to accurately portray Il Palio’s specialties and culture. Clairemont provided on-site support at media interviews and the James Beard House to ensure concise messaging.


  1. The James Beard Foundation invited Chef Teddy to cook at the James Beard House in February 2017.
  2. Clairemont secured in-person interviews with two media and dinner attendance from five key media from outlets like Food and Wine Magazine and NBC’s Today Show, surpassing the original objectives.
  3. With the objective of three stories, Clairemont placed six national media stories by December 2017 in coveted outlets such as Saveur, The Daily Meal and Food Republic. Social media posts reached approximately 1.2 million followers on Twitter alone, far exceeding the original goal.

Clairemont successfully positioned Il Palio as a desirable, modern dining hotspot. Bolstered by diner reviews and media coverage, Il Palio earned a Silver Medal from food critics as a “Best Restaurant in the Triangle in 2017.” In addition, the James Beard dinner sparked the “Taste of James Beard,” a collaborative dinner with leading Raleigh chefs that Chef Teddy hosted upon return, leveraging his New York trip to attract new customers and boost sales at Il Palio.

The work Clairemont Communications conducted in partnership with Il Palio won an Honorable Mention by the North Carolina Public Relations Society of America (NCPRSA). We are proud that this campaign represents one of the 190 awards we’ve received since starting Clairemont in 2010.

To read more about the work we do with clients, please visit the case study section of our blog.

Image courtesy of the James Beard House.



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