As we evolve the food section here at Xpress, we'll introduce you to many of the passionate voices from our local food community. This week, we talked to Laura Huff, creator of the Hendersonville Epicurean blog, which she started in 2007. Huff is a devoted fan of local food: "Our area of the country is so incredible with what people are doing with food," she says. "The care and the passion that people have about food here and the availability of great food to everyone is amazing to me — because you would expect to only find this quality of food in major cities."

Epicurean at work: Hendersonville-based blogger Laura Huff has a passion for local food. Photo by Jonathan Welch

What's the main focus of your blog?
Restaurant reviews. I also interview farmers in a section called "Talk to a Farmer." There's also a section called "Meet the Chef" where I do chef interviews. I also keep a listing of all of the farmers tailgate markets in the area, and I have a little section where people can read about our local chains. I follow national and international food trends, and try to keep track of what's going on in the area and keep a food-event calendar.

Why blog?
Because it combines a lot of different things that I like to do — writing, being involved with the food industry, solving problems on my computer, helping local businesses. I'm kind of pro-business, pro-customer. I also love photography and videography, and I try to incorporate some of that on the site too.

Do you have any big plans in store for Hendersonville Epicurean?
As a matter of fact, I'm kind of researching what to do to take it to the next level right now, whether to go to a full-on Web site, rather than a blog. I'm getting some input from my readers right now. I have a well-known area chef that wants to be on the Web site to do home cooking with her recipes, and perhaps some video of her cooking as well. I have someone else who has been in the wine industry for 30 years who wants to do a wine-and-beer column.

What kind of food do you least like?
Liver. If we want to get specific, liver mush.

Any big food disasters lately?
The worst thing that happened lately is that I had just prepared a beautiful wheel of brie with toasted almond slices, and the plate tipped over, and it went right on the carpet.

There's pretty much no saving that.
Yeah, you can't really pick all of the carpet fibers out of it. That was not a good thing.

Do you have a formal culinary background?
I'm pretty much self-taught. I did a lot of cooking and experimenting. I'm also a bit of a Food Network junkie.

What's your favorite kitchen gadget?
I really like my cork puller. Mandolines are cool. I am a total kitchen-gadget freak — I love them all.

What is something you can't live without in your pantry?
Vanilla for baking. Old Bay. I love Old Bay seasoning.

What do you think is most lacking in our local food scene?
There is a lack of variety of ethnic restaurants. Finding a really excellent Chinese restaurant is like a mission.

Visit the Hendersonville Epicurean at www.hendersonvilleepicurean.blogspot.com.

Send your food news to food@mountainx.com.


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