WNC hot sauce blows up

WNC's hot sauce set the world on fire in September — or the state, at least. Smoking J's Fiery Foods of Candler and Carolina Pig Polish of Whittier brought the heat to the North Carolina Hot Sauce Contest in Oxford, and brought back first place prizes and $500 each.

Smoking J's won N.C.’s Most Unique Hot Sauce for their Jamaican Ginger Sauce, and Carolina Pig Polish scored Best N.C. Eastern Style Mild Sauce.

Both entrepreneurs develop their products at the Blue Ridge Food Ventures in Candler. The sauces are available at local grocery stores and specialty shops, and The Fresh Market sells Carolina Pig Polish nationally.

The North Carolina Hot Sauce Contest takes place annually in Oxford, drawing crowds of more than 7,000 people and roughly doubling the town's population for the day. For more information about the contest, visit Find Smoking J's online at

Asheville’s master mixologists collaborate

Craft Cocktail Experience aims to offer more than just mixed drinks; the event mixes bartenders, too. On Friday, Oct. 5, four Asheville mixologists will collaborate at Sazerac for an evening of eclectic cocktails, regionally produced liquors and light fare from Snout Catering, an arm of the Blind Pig Supper Club.

Mike Burnette of Cucina 24, Peter Slamp of Zambra, Joel Hartzler of The Southern and Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge, and the bar team at Sazerac will work together to offer guests a collaborative cocktail experience.

“[Cocktails are] the way Asheville's going,” says Josh Bailey of Eating Asheville Food Tours, the company organizing the event. “I think it's a way to expose what is going on in the whole slow-drink movement.” Bailey also manages the bar at Zambra.

The event will take place on the Sazerac rooftop level from 7 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 5. Tickets cost $69 per person and include mixed drinks, appetizers and beer and wine. For more information, visit or call Eating Asheville at 489-3266.

Get your ticket for Taste of Asheville

Tickets are on sale now for the largest Taste of Asheville event to date. Forty restaurants from all over Asheville will participate, from coffee shops to casual eateries to upscale dining destinations.

“All of our members are important to us, and it's a good opportunity for them to get out in front of the public and showcase their talents and what they specialize in,” says Christine Sykes Lowe of Asheville Independent Restaurants, an organization that networks and promotes local restaurants.

AIR organizes the event as a fundraiser for its operations and for food-centric philanthropic programs. This year, beneficiaries include the Chefs of Tomorrow Scholarship Program for A-B Tech students and GO! Kitchen Ready Training Program.

The price of admission for the Wednesday, Nov. 14 event is $75, which begins at 7 pm. For tickets and more information visit

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