On Saturday, March 20, local artisan bakers will showcase their craft at the Asheville Artisan Bread Bakers Festival. The two-part event begins with a bread tasting and sale at Asheville’s Greenlife Grocery from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., while hands-on workshops and lectures will take place at A-B Tech from noon to 6 p.m.The bread festival, celebrating its sixth year, remains popular with dough-slingers and gourmands alike. According to festival organizers, in previous years the event has been “overwhelmed” with attendees eager to sample what local bakeries have to offer, and perhaps learn a little about the art of baking in the process.
This featured baker at the festival this year is Lionel Vatinet, a certified Master Baker from La Farm Bakery in Cary, N.C. Vatinet was the coach for the first American team to take home the gold medal in the world baking competition, La Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie. The contest, which is more a peaceable meeting of the baking minds of the world than a Bobby Flay-style throw down, is widely known as the Olympics of baking. Vatinet was the first instructor at the San Fransisco Baking Institute and continues to be a highly respected teacher, consultant and writer.
In addition to Vatinet, the festival will feature presentations by noted bread mentor and author Peter Reinhart. A teacher at Johnson & Wales University, Reinhart is impressed with Asheville’s bakery scene. “Asheville and its surrounding area, with a very small population, supports more artisan bakeries than most states,” he says. “The bakeries are all small but truly artisan in the purest sense of the word.”
Jennifer Lapidus, director of the North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project, and Emily Buehler, author of The Science of Bread, will also be on hand for the festivities. Additionally, more than a dozen local artisan bakers will be showing, sampling and selling their wares to the eager masses.
For bread enthusiasts who want to improve their baking skills, the afternoon workshops and lectures at A-B Tech’s Asheville campus are open to the public. Admission is free to all events, but space at the workshops is limited to visitors who have bought a loaf of bread at the morning bread tasting.
The festival is being sponsored by the participating local bakeries, the Bread Bakers Guild of America, Greenlife Grocery, Slow Food Asheville, Lindley Mills (an organic-flour mill in Graham, N.C.), and the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.
For the event schedule, click here.
— Mackensy Lunsford, Xpress food coordinator