At the Mountain Xpress, where nothing matters more than local matters, our area's food culture is high on the menu — and we're about to spice it up even more.
We've forged a new food-journalism initiative that, we believe, will become a gastronomic engine for Western North Carolina's already thriving food-and-beverage scene.
We're doing it with bellies full of input from area foodies, and we're asking every person who reads this and has a passion for eating and drinking locally to chime in and help us make WNC even more of a premium place to get your grub on.
The initiative will focus the power of citizen journalism, collaborative reporting and social media on the area's culinary culture. Here are a few ingredients in the mix:
• A revitalized Xpress food home page, at www.mountainx.com/dining, where you'll find links to local food blogs, a Twitter feed dedicated to Asheville-area eats and drinks, a food forum where anyone who registers can start their own discussions and join others already underway, and frequent blog posts highlighting local food news.
• More food-and-beverage news in the print version of Xpress. Starting this week, we've doubled the amount of news in our Small Bites feature. At the same time, we're shortening our lead food feature.
• A regular Brews News column about local beer, which will appear every other week, in print and online.
• A concerted effort by Xpress to gather and share all of the area's food-and-beverage news; we want to provide a one-stop-shop for passionate foodies.
• A series of collaborative efforts with local food enthusiasts. Last week, we held our first informal foodie summit, where we brainstormed with local food bloggers, restaurateurs, culinary instructors, farmers, and food entrepreneurs and promoters. We came away with dozens of ideas for how Xpress can forge collaborations that take local food journalism to new heights. (And many thanks to Posana Café for hosting the summit in fine fashion.)
To make all that happen, we've welcomed Mackensy Lunsford, who wrote Xpress' food column from 2005 to 2006, back on board. She's working as Xpress' food coordinator and invites you to send in your news and ideas for the initiative (see her e-mail address below).
Meanwhile, Hanna Raskin, our food editor for the past three years, will continue writing about all things edible, most notably in her capacity as AOL's Southern food correspondent and as a featured contributor to a still top-secret food-journalism venture at a major media outlet (stay tuned — we'll let you know when we can). Raskin plans to remain an active member of Asheville's lively culinary scene, and we'll look to her to write some of the in-depth food pieces we plan to publish from time to time.
For this initiative to succeed, we'll need to hear from, and hopefully collaborate with, everyone in our area who has a stake in — or a passion for — the local food scene. There can't be too many cooks in this kitchen — so please send us your ideas, to firstname.lastname@example.org.