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.

The Biltmore Estate was one of the local wineries at the Asheville Wine and Food Festival. Photo by Kat McReynolds

Asheville Wine & Food Festival: The Grand Tasting

Hundreds of flavor enthusiasts gathered at the U.S. Cellular Center for four hours of wine, food, competition and camaraderie at Asheville’s sixth annual Wine and Food Festival Grand Tasting event, and only Southern hospitality could explain the extent of heavy pours that sloshed around inside the event’s beautifully branded keepsake cups.

Highland Brewing Co. employee Jay pours his favorite brew, the Gaelic Ale, for attendees of the 2014 Food Blog Forum. Photo by Maria McReynolds

Asheville hosts 120 hungry bloggers

Ashevilleans, more so than residents of many other cities, know where their food is raised, grown or picked and can often participate in the process with little effort. This reverence for cuisine afforded Asheville the honor of hosting Food Blog Forum’s 2014 conference, a three-day networking and educational event for 120 food bloggers from across the nation.

FEEDING SUCCESS: Jack's Nut Butters owner Jack Fischer will talk about his business and expansion goals at the Financing Our Foodshed Gathering on Sunday, Aug. 24. Photo by Alicia Funderburk

Local dollars, local food: Slow Money NC hosts Financing Our Foodshed Gathering

Carol Peppe Hewitt is a matchmaker of sorts. As cofounder of the North Carolina chapter of the international nonprofit organization Slow Money and author of Financing Our Foodshed: Growing Local Food With Slow Money, Hewitt’s goal is to help sustainability-minded food entrepreneurs and community members interested in supporting their work meet and — quite possibly — fall in love.

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 […]

The Whole Foods mobile kitchen will donate its Aug. 18 sales to Brother Wolf Animal Rescue. Photo courtesy of Whole Foods

Whole Foods Market to set up mobile kitchen on Tunnel Road

Upscale grocer Whole Foods has planned a week of mobile kitchen feasts in anticipation of the grand opening at its 4 S. Tunnel Road location. The campaign kicks off with a “community giving day” on Aug. 18, at which nonprofit Brother Wolf Animal Rescue will be the sole beneficiary of all food sales.

Xpress file photo.

Mellow Mushroom celebrates #40YrsBaked

On Aug. 20, popular pizza chain Mellow Mushroom will celebrate 40 years in business by offering customers extremely cheap eats, including a $2.50 small cheese pizza. Mellow Mushroom’s marketing team is encouraging patrons to celebrate their event, Way back Wednesday, by posting social media under the hashtag #40YrsBaked – a slogan that may or may not refer to the company’s stone-baked pizza.

Valet Gourmet owner Kenan Hopkins takes his dog Mayday for a stroll. Photo by Jared Kay

Special delivery: Valet Gourmet takes Knoxville

Valet Gourmet, an Asheville-­based multi-­restaurant delivery service, expanded its operations into Knoxville, Tenn., as of Monday, Aug. 4, by acquiring a similar delivery business called 622­-EATS. Founder Kenan Hopkins closed the deal with 622-­EATS and started fulfilling orders in Knoxville the very same day. “We’re only one week in, but the response has just been […]

Renovations continue at Ben's Penny Mart. Photo courtesy of Ben's Tune-Up

Ben’s Tune-Up brings new convenience store to South Slope

“Everybody needs sodas and cigarettes and snacks,” says Ben’s Tune-Up co-owner Meg Alt. Now, individuals who work and play downtown have an expedient means to get these items. Ben’s Penny Mart, Asheville’s newest convenience store and hangout, is scheduled to open on Friday, Aug. 15, at 195 Hilliard Ave. adjacent to Hi-Wire Brewing. The hours […]

A $20 pledge earns donors one Thru Hike game. Photo courtesy of Thru Hike's Facebook page

Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise start-up capital for projects that might otherwise fail due to lack of funding. Each week, Xpress highlights notable WNC crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd. THRU HIKE: THE APPALCHIAN TRAIL […]

GET FIRED UP: Darren Stephens' patent-pending wood-fired oven cooks a 20-inch pizza in just 90 seconds.

Amazing Pizza Co. rolls out mobile franchise plan

Western North Carolina’s (and the nation’s) mobile food trend continues to roll along: Darren Stephens of Mills River believes he may have found a new market niche with mobile pizza kitchens. Nearly two years of research and development and about $60,000 pumped into the Asheville-area economy have yielded a compact, wood-fired oven that cranks out […]