Asheville restaurants vie for the “most epic tempeh reuben”

A group of local tempeh reuben enthusiasts plan to give new meaning to the word “epic”: From now on, the term connotes a gathering of 11 of Asheville's most ambitious sandwiches in one venue for an afternoon of reuben tasting.

On Sunday, Sept. 30, reuben artists from City Bakery, Green Light, Nine Mile, Green Sage, One Stop Deli, Rosetta's Kitchen, Veg Head Drive Thru, WestVillage Market, Weaverville Pub and Zuma will create the best tempeh reuben they can muster at the Asheville Music Hall. A panel of judges and diners will vote separately to determine which restaurant deserves the bragging rights for best tempeh reuben.

The basic, traditional reuben ingredients include corned beef (or tempeh), swiss cheese, a sauce of some kind and sauerkraut on rye bread. But J. Clarkson, a contest organizer and the director of foundation and corporate support at MANNA FoodBank, says he expects creativity, especially since not all of the competing restaurants serve the sandwich regularly. “We expect some pretty interesting innovations on the theme,” he says.

The judges include Gibbie Harris, director of the Buncombe County Department of Health, and Gordon Smith, Asheville City Council member. “The panel of judges is kind of representative of the fact that this is a food event, but this is really a community event,” Clarkson says. “It is about the sandwich, but it's really a celebration of the local food community.”

The ticketed event runs from 2 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30 at the Asheville Music Hall. Tickets cost $12 online ($13.41 including a service fee) or $15 at the door. Admission entitles attendees to samples of the 11 sandwiches and two drink tickets, redeemable for beer from Highland Brewing or kombucha from Buchi. Smiling Harah will donate the tempeh.

The judges will announce the winner around 4 or 4:30 p.m., Clarkson says. The Stilt Walkers — an actual stilt-walking act — and Michael Luchtan of the Asheville Tango Orchestra, will perform throughout the afternoon.

All proceeds benefit MANNA FoodBank. For more information, visit mannafoodbank.org/most-epic-tempeh-reuben-challenge. For tickets, visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/269400.

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