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I’m Lesley Stracks-Mullem, co-founder of Taste Carolina. I used to tell my friends I was going to open a sandwich shop. One with a chalkboard menu, the finest meats, cheeses, locally grown produce, and fresh baked bread… if you’ve ever been to the Cheese Shop in Williamsburg, you know what I mean. Well, it hasn't happened (yet), much to my regret.

My passion has always been to find the best, most off-the-beaten-path, reasonably priced, and unique restaurants in any town. I love walking into restaurants and realizing I’ve come across something special, and I love a good deal, too! I can often be found driving through small towns, commenting on their cuteness, and searching for the best sandwich, then taking friends and family there after I find it. My husband and I moved to Durham in 2006, and I graduated with an MBA from UNC—Chapel Hill in 2008. There, I earned a concentration in Entrepreneurship and a minor in Barbecue.

I can be reached at


 I’m Joe Philipose, co-founder of Taste Carolina and an unapologetic food junkie. I spend an unhealthy amount of time researching all things food—from checking out restaurants to reading about trends in the industry to trying new recipes at home. If there is somewhere to eat, I’ve probably been there. If I haven’t, I am going there right now!

A native New Yorker, I grew up working in a family restaurant performing a wide range of jobs from prepping food to waiting tables. While working in Manhattan, I took great pride in trying to get to every place in the Zagats top 50 ranking as well as the New York Magazine Cheap Eats edition. Whether it’s fine dining or obscure food hideaways, I’m going to find it.

I love sharing my finds with friends and nothing makes me happier than going to a new town or country and finding where the locals eat. I was inspired by the food culture in North Carolina after moving here several years ago and want to share my experiences with everyone I can.

As a side note, I was a lawyer and corporate drone in a former life. I am much happier now.

I can be reached at



  • Food
  • All Things Local
  • Organic Farms
  • Our Customers
  • ‘Cue
  • Places Only the Locals Know About
  • Helping Locals Discover New Places in their Own Home Town
  • Down-Home Cooking
  • Highfalutin’ Cuisine
  • The Restaurants, Shops, and Artisans Featured on our Tours
  • Other Awesome Restaurants, Shops, and Artisans
  • Your Feedback
  • Dogs
  • Showing People a Super-Fun Time
  • Having a Blast Ourselves
  • Connecting People on our Tours
  • Learning Something New
  • Downtown Walking
  • Long Drives in the Country
  • Our Families and Friends
  • Our Community
  • Sharing Things We Love