Where's the beef?
The Chop Shop Butchery is coming to Charlotte Street sometime later this summer. Karen Fowler is partnering with Josh Wright to open the old-school, full-service butcher shop directly next to the Blue Water Seafood Company, making the Charlotte Street corridor a hot spot for home chefs.
The Chop Shop will sell local meats as well as game, plus value-added products made in-house, like classic terrines, sausages and patés. "I'm trying to keep it mainly in North Carolina," says Fowler, who currently works at Cucina 24 Deli.There, you can get a sneak peek of some of the work she does with house-roasted meats, which she says the Chop Shop may provide. Fowler has also worked at the Admiral in West Asheville, as well as the meat departments of Greenlife and Earth Fare.
Fowler asserts that The Chop Shop will only carry meats that are local, or at least regional, save items like venison and other game that the partners hope to provide. "If I can source it locally, I'm going to carry it," she says. "The game meats are the only places that I'll likely step out of the local box," says Fowler. "The places where I won't are going to be your pretty usual meats — obviously, beef and pork, things that are plentiful around here."
Fowler also says that the shop will not specialize in solely grass-fed meats, but will also offer grain-finished meats as well, some having been finished on brewer's grain.
"We're also going to have a smoker so that we can do smoked meats as well as sausages. It will double as a rotisserie and a cold-smoker, so we'll get to play with some stuff there," says Fowler.
The Chop Shop will also provide some less-than-common cuts, since Fowler plans to purchase whole animals as often as possible. So, yes, if you want to make kidney pie, the Chop Shop is probably a good place to start.
"We're going to be a full-service butcher shop," Fowler says. "There’s not going to be Styrofoam trays, no grab-and-go retail, nothing like that."
However, the shop will offer spice rubs from the Spice and Tea Exchange, and possibly local eggs and veggies to supplement the meats.
The Chop Shop will be located at 100 Charlotte St. The website is still under construction, but you can follow the shop's progress on Facebook.
Food trucks are on a roll
Though food trucks seem to be taking over Asheville food news only recently, Jerry Kozel has owned and operated his since 2007. Kozel, who now has two trucks, got into the work out of the desire to leave the business of commercial renovation. "I got tired of living in hotels, and I wanted to be able to eat where I worked," says Kozel.
Then, Kozel found the movie Food Inc., an exposé on the inner workings of factory farming. Kozel, who now serves all natural Hickory Nut Gap meats out of both of his trucks, says that the movie changed his way of eating. Now, his goal is to bring local food to the people, and doing so has been gratifying, he says. "People like it, and it's working. I'm glad I can provide something healthy and local," he says.
Kozel himself serves local beef burgers and the like Saturdays at the Asheville City Market on Charlotte Street. His employee, Katya Castillo, operates his other truck, located in the parking lot of the Home Depot on Fairview Road in Oakley.
Castillo is also a proponent of the natural foods that she serves from a menu that includes burgers, bratwurst and cheese steaks.
"With my little bit of English, I try to explain that local is healthy meat — but it's hard," she says. Castillo reports that some of the Home Depot crowd doesn’t really appear to be interested in the healthier meats, or the fact that the snow-cones that she serves are made with real fruit and cane sugar.
"It's not easy," says Castillo. "Children want blue and green. We says 'It's real fruit,' and they say 'No thank you.'"
The truck also serves Nathan's all-beef hot dogs, priced from $1.90 to $2.40 (loaded) and a number of salads, made with organic spring mix. A natural-beef cheese steak costs $7.49. The natural-beef burgers start at $5.49. An egg sandwich — we're talking local eggs, including eggs that Castillo harvests from her own chickens — costs only $2.99 (with bacon, sausage or ham). The coffee is organic, and made by the cup. Espresso drinks and fresh-made lemonade and other fresh juices are also available.
We highly recommend you check this truck out the next time you find yourself needing roofing nails or potting soil. It's open on weekdays, from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Elizabeth Foley, the daughter of the owners of the The Chocolate Fetish, is turning out edible high art these days.
The chocolate shop, celebrating its 25 anniversary this year, was the first of the existing stores of its type in Asheville — and continues to be as innovative as the rest.
Foley has a long history in the art world, and attended art school in her college years. In trying to pursue a life in art upon graduating, Foley says that she struggled a bit. "I'm a big supporter of small businesses, particularly family businesses, so I thought that maybe I should get involved with my own family's business," she tells Xpress. Foley then enrolled at the French Pastry School at Chicago University.
In the four or five years that Foley has been working at The Chocolate Fetish, she's been integrating her artistic abilities into the wares the shop provides. "There was a slow realization that it didn't have to be one way or the other — I could work with the family business, a financially viable job, as well as being able to express my creativity," she says.
Foley makes both large- and small-scale chocolate sculptures. The smaller pieces range from intricate boxes to lifelike flowers that can be made to match a bridal bouquet, making for unique wedding-cake toppers. Foley specializes in the most popular of the wedding flowers — orchids, roses and calla lilies, to name a few.
"All of the sculptural artwork that we do is great, and that gives me a lot of opportunity to express my creativity, but there's also a lot of that in each piece that we do,” she says. “Each little piece of chocolate is its own individual piece of art."
That being said, the larger sculptures that Foley makes are show-stoppers. One of her favorite designs — a piece that she made in celebration of The Chocolate Fetish's 25th anniversary — can be viewed in the Atrium of the Haywood Park Hotel.
Foley enjoys the challenge of making the showpieces, which she sculpts using actual chocolate, rather than the modeling chocolate that many use — which can often contain a lot of oil.
"Just because it looks good, doesn't mean that it tastes good," says Foley. "You can do a lot of things with modeling chocolate, but it doesn't taste good, and that's something that we're really big on here. Our sculptures are all made out of the same high-quality chocolate that we use in any of the chocolates that you find in the case."
With the fourth chocolate shop coming to Asheville this summer, Xpress couldn't help but ask Foley how she feels about all the competition. She and her family sound secure.
"What it comes down to is that we need to keep focusing on what we do and continuing to do it well, continuing to develop our products just as we are and trust that we've made enough of an impression already that that will continue to make us successful," says Foley.
The Chocolate Fetish is located at 36 Haywood St. in downtown Asheville. For more information, call 258-2353 or visit chocolatefetish.com.
— Mackensy Lunsford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 251-1333, ext. 107.