FROM THE HEART: Restaurateur Laurey Masterton (far right in the red hat) was known for both her love of  community and her entrepreneurial savvy. "She was so generous, and yet she was such a sharp businesswoman," remembers her friend Howard Hanger. Mountain Xpress file photo

Asheville’s food pioneers: The legacy of Laurey Masterton

When Laurey Masterton opened her restaurant and catering company storefront, Laurey’s, in 1990, most of Asheville was still degenerate. Barley’s wouldn’t start slinging pizzas until four years later, but Laurey’s sandwich shop paved the way for an entire section of Biltmore Avenue to be revitalized. “Cooking was a big part of their family, and that […]

LOCAL HARVEST: From left, restaurateur Hector Diaz, his wife, Aimee Diaz, and Mike Fortune load produce into Hector's truck for an early-morning delivery. The Diaz' farm, Salsa's 44, supplies produce to their four Asheville restaurants. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Back to the hills: Asheville’s fight for a sustainable farm-to-table system

Mike Fortune started Green Hill Urban Farm nine years ago. From the road, all you see is a large, densely planted yard behind three West Asheville homes; gnarly trees with big bushes underneath. But in fact, the farm raises rabbits, ducks, geese, mushrooms and artichokes; figs, pears, plums, cherries, raspberries, blueberries. It’s hard to believe […]

CHEERS: Downtown farm-to-glass cocktail venture Sovereign Remedies recently opened to the public,  Photo by Jonathan Ammons

A cure for all ills: Sovereign Remedies opens for business

After several months of anticipation, Sovereign Remedies, Asheville’s new farm-to-glass cocktail haven, opened last week. In his typical, community-focused fashion, owner Charlie Hodge first welcomed Asheville bar employees for a Bartenders Brunch on Wednesday, Sept. 3, followed by a family-and-friends event on Friday, Sept. 5, which allowed VIPs and the press to get the first tastes.  The […]

UP IN THE AIR: Scott Thomas, left, and Mike Piroli, right, were hoping to open the Public School bar in the old Standard Paper Sales Co. building on Banks Avenue this fall, but city paperwork has kept the project from getting off the ground as scheduled. Photo by Cindy Kunst

The long hello: Permitting issues drag on for South Slope ventures

Driving by the old Standard Paper Sales building, you can see construction workers carrying equipment in and out and hear the sounds of loud machinery. Vortex had originally planned to open in the space in June, and four other South Slope businesses had their sights on the space for September. As the summer slips away, you can’t help but wonder what’s holding up those projects.

Chef Ulfet Ozyabasligil Ralph, from the Culinary Vegetable Institute in  Charleston, SC, wins the Chefs Challenge. (Mountain Xpress / Jesse Farthing)

Taste of success: Regional chefs battle it out at Chefs Challenge

Crowds of people, people and more people — more than 3,000 — made their way to the annual Asheville Wine & Food Festival at the U.S. Cellular Center downtown on Saturday, Aug. 23. At the end of the evening came the highlight of the festival: the final competition in the annual Chefs Challenge, a cooking competition that pits regional chefs against each other in an Iron Chef-style battle.

GOING COMMERCIAL: Thomas Mincarelli samlpes a commercial wine during the recent judging for the Asheville Wine and Food Festival. Mincarelli won the Double Blue Ribbon in this year's amateur wine competition. Photo by Alicia Funderburk

Blood of the grape: Asheville Wine & Food Festival spotlights local vintners

Asheville may be Beer City, but that’s not the only libation local residents enjoy. Consider the continuing success of the Asheville Wine & Food Festival. Now in its sixth year, the annual celebration of the region’s winemakers, wine shop owners, chefs and restaurants is expanding its focus on local wines, adding a competition for commercial […]

Top of the Monk bartender Nikki Anhalt, third from left, competed on Friday, July 18, in the national sidecar competition in New Orleans. In the end, the win went to Aaron Butler, second from left, of Jakewalk in Brooklyn, N.Y. Photo by Jonathan Ammons

Reports from Tales of the Cocktail: Asheville edged out by Brooklyn, N.Y. in national cocktail competition

On a rainy Friday afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, Asheville’s own Nicole Anhalt came in from the downpour to stake her claim in this year’s Sidecar by Merlet Cocktail Competition. Hosted annually at the country’s largest cocktail conference, Tales of the Cocktail, seven bartenders from across the country competed for a trip to the Merlet […]

Top of the Monk bartender Nicole Anhalt is competing in Merlet's sidecar cocktail competition at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. Photo courtesy of Top of the Monk

Reports from Tales of the Cocktail: Asheville bartender competes in national sidecar competition

  Once a year, in the muggy heat of July, thousands of bartenders flock to New Orleans for the largest cocktail conference of the year, Tales of the Cocktail. It is estimated that this year 22,000 of the world’s finest craft cocktail nerds — including a healthy contingent from Asheville’s bar scene — have either […]

OUTSTANDING IN THEIR FIELD: Sunil Patel, left, and William Dissen, right, at Patchwork Farms' Pearson plot in Montford. The farmer and chef are both working to improve the local farm-to-table system. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Is farm-to-table working?

Farm-to-table agriculture has gone mainstream, but does it work as a sustainable model? Some local farmers and restaurateurs aren’t sure, even as they persist in trying. “Any good farming system has all the components of an actual ecosystem,” says Sunil Patel, who runs Urban Patchwork Farms, a progressive farming venture that seeks to develop inner-city […]