Canyon Kitchen chef Adam Hayes presents dinner at the James Beard House

NEW YORK BOUND: Chef Adam Hayes makes his second appearance at New York's famed James Beard House this month, serving a menu that highlights North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Photo courtesy of Canyon Kitchen

This month, New York City will get a taste of North Carolina cuisine as Adam Hayes, executive chef of Canyon Kitchen restaurant in Cashiers, hosts his second dinner at the James Beard Foundation’s renown James Beard House in Greenwich Village. The Heart of the Blue Ridge dinner on Thursday, Nov. 17, will be Hayes’ second appearance at the house (his first was in 2013), and, this go-around, the 74-seat meal is sold out.

The chef muses that his lighthearted approach to naming the dishes for this event (see menu below) may have sparked interest in ticket buyers. For example, a heritage pork and house-cured bacon riff on the classic French cassoulet is named “Cat’s Who Lay.” And a dish featuring moonshine-braised guinea hens from Winston-Salem’s Joyce Farms — dubbed “Someday the Mountains Might Get ‘Em, But the Law Never Will” — nods to Hayes’ childhood love of “The Dukes of Hazzard” television show.

“I think a lot of it comes from my ability to be kind of different and just have fun with it,” says Hayes, who developed the menu with his kitchen team of Erik Hedlund, Marsh Elliott and pastry chef Jorden Cruley. “A lot of this menu has stories behind it. One of the takeaways [for the dinner] we’re putting together currently is a book that tells the stories of these ingredients so people can understand it all better.”

Chefs who cook at the James Beard House are required to purchase their own ingredients and pay all travel and shipping costs to New York. Hayes, who remarks that he is still “looking for any and all donations” for the cause, acted as auctioneer at a Davis Family Vineyard wine dinner event back July to raise $5,500 to help offset expenses.

The menu for Hayes’ Heart of the Blue Ridge dinner features locally and regionally produced ingredients from purveyors such as Brasstown Beef and Sunburst Trout, but many items were grown and processed by Hayes and his team right on the Canyon Kitchen property. Some vegetables, such as the okra and tomatoes in a curried lamb dish and the kale and pickled carrots in the guinea hen entrée, came from the kitchen’s large garden.

Even the grits in “The Natives Are Restless” — a dish of Cherokee heirloom grits with heavy cream, smoked Sunburst Trout lardons, pea shoots, sorrel and baby herbs — originated on the land surrounding the restaurant. Hayes worked with the owners of Bryson’s Feed and Seed in Sylva to source an heirloom dent corn varietal from a Cherokee farmer in Tuckasegee.

“We did the whole process: We grew it, we dried it we … cooked it in pickling lime, and now we’ve got it sitting there ready,” says Hayes. “I’ve got a mill grinder, and I did a test run on one ear of corn, and it turned out to be some pretty damned good grits.”

Although the Heart of the Blue Ridge dinner is sold out — and it takes place in New York City — Asheville locals have the opportunity to preview the menu. Hayes will present some of the dishes as a five-course beer-pairing dinner on Thursday, Nov. 10, at the final installment of Foothills Local Meats’ 2016 Butcher’s Table Dinner Series at Hi-Wire’s Big Top in Biltmore Village. (See sidebar for details.)

“It’s sort of a more casual, laid-back version of it, I guess,” says Hayes of the preview. “We’ve already done most of these dishes on our menu [at Canyon Kitchen], so we’re not totally freaking out about it.”

Following is the menu for the Heart of the Blue Ridge dinner at the James Beard House, courtesy of a press release from Canyon Kitchen:

CHEF ADAM HAYES

JAMES BEARD DINNER MENU 

Hors d’Oeuvres

Shrimp Butter, Peasant Bread, Lady Edison Prosciutto, Pickled Vegetables
Gougéres, Rabbit Rillete, Pickled Ramps, Tarragon

In the Kitchen: Capers Blades Oysters, House Vinegar Mignonette, Curry Cocktail, Hot Sauce, Garden Aioli, Crackers

Tongue and Cheek
Brined Beef Tongue, Braised Cheek, Lusty Monk Mustard, Pickle 

Davis Family

Cuvee Luke, Sierra Foothills, California 2014

Rose de Noir, Russian River, California 2013

For the Table
Ham and Cheese Biscuits, Corn Bread, Peasant Bread, Chow Chow, CK Apple Butter, Pepper Relish, Brown Butter and Honey, Assorted Pickled Garden Vegetables, Pickled Ramps, CK Crispy Okra

Dinner Bell

The Natives Are Restless
Cherokee Heirloom Grits, Heavy Cream, Smoked Sunburst Trout Lardons, Pea Shoots, Sorrel, Baby Herbs
Arterberry Maresh, Maresh Vineyard, Dundee Hills, Oregon 2014

Someday the Mountain Might Get ‘Em, But the Law Never Will
Moonshine Braised Joyce Farms Guinea Hen, Cruz Buttermilk Biscuit Dumplin’s, Garden Kale, Pickled Carrots, Muscadine Vincotto, Cracklins, Yellow Branch Reserve
Regis Bouvier ‘En Montre Cul’ Rouge, Burgundy, France 2014

Cats Who Lay?
Sorghum Braised Heritage Pork Collar, Purple Cape Beans, House Bacon, Pork Rind Crust
Abberant Cellars, Carpe Nocteum, Willamette Valley, Oregon 2009

Them Sheep’s Got Hot Racks!
Border Springs Lamb Rack, Curry Stewed Okra and Tomatoes, Charleston Gold Rice, Cilantro, Chermoula
Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserva, Rioja, Spain 2012

Who the Hell Serves Brisket at the James Beard House?  We DO!
A Farmer and a Chef’s Secret Rub, Brasstown Beef Brisket, Bone Marrow Hollandaise, Green Bean Casserole, Cherokee Rose Cream, Foraged Chanterelles
Sandrone Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Italy 2014

The Ring of Fire
Hillside Apples and Brandy, Spiced Orange Creameux Cylinder, Shredded Phyllo, Caramel, Citrus Cake, Ring of Troy and Sons Whiskey Fire
Jorge Ordonez Victoria, Malaga, Spain 2011

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About Gina Smith
Gina Smith is the Mountain Xpress Food section editor and writer. She can be reached at gsmith@mountainx.com.

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