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Blog Cabin Carpenter: Allen Crawford

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How does an executive chef end up splitting logs in the mountains of eastern North Carolina? The answer makes more sense than one might first expect.

After facing a period of burnout in the middle of his career, Allen Crawford, a 20-year construction industry veteran, enrolled in courses at the California Culinary Academy, where he received a degree and began a new life as a chef. But he could never quite escape the lure of construction. "Both seem to be a really good creative outlet and a creative process for me," he adds. "I really love to do both."

The perfect opportunity presented itself at The Preserve at Little Pine, where he now serves as both a construction crew member and special events chef, catering for up to 200 people at each event. "I am lucky I get to do both up here," he adds.

It was a chance meeting with DIY Blog Cabin house planner Jack Thomasson that led to Crawford’s guest-starring role as a carpenter on the '09 series. "He was here to take a look at the property for Blog Cabin," Crawford recalls. "And that night I cooked for everybody — we were at my boss Jack’s house — and then all of a sudden I came out of the woods with a chain saw and he asked me if I wanted to be on TV and I said, ‘Yeah, we’ll go for it.’"

Crawford has served as a jack of all trades for Blog Cabin projects, including interior work at the equestrian center; trim, sheetrock and paint work at the lodge; batten board, trim, caulking and countertop work at the observatory; and special projects, including the construction of hand-hewn mantels and a custom-crafted picnic table, which Crawford considers his finest work. "The inspiration for the picnic table came into my head one day," says Crawford. "I went into the woods, took an 8-foot section out of a downed purple walnut tree, and here we are." The picnic table, crafted from a tree that also produced two mantels, served as a springboard for other creative projects. "It’s hard to go to sleep at night because your head is swimming with ideas," says Crawford. "Benches, barstools, chaise lounges, swinging chairs — everything comes to mind now."

So how does it feel to be a TV star? "To be on camera is not that bad," says Crawford. "I was a little shocked at how close the camera gets to me when I am working, but otherwise, it doesn’t seem to bother me. I kind of act like it’s not there and go about my business. It seems to be just natural for me."

Learn more about Allen's sidekick, carpenter Ryan James Heryford.

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