Another twist on tempeh

The same crew of tempeh enthusiasts who put on last fall's Epic Tempeh Reuben Challenge have decided to run for the border. Based on the popularity of the vegetarian sandwich competition, organizers have invited 10 local restaurants to go head to head in the Epic Tempeh Taco Challenge on Sunday, Oct. 13, at Asheville Music Hall.

Guests at the ticketed event will be able to sample tacos made by Neo Burrito, Rosetta's Kitchen, Westville Pub, One Stop Deli, Trailhead, Local Taco, Over Easy Cafe, Thirsty Monk, Native Kitchen and Green Sage, all made from tempeh donated by Smiling Hara Tempeh. Highland Ales and Buchi Kombucha will donate the drinks and performances by Musica Folklorico de La Capilla de Santa Maria, a group of musicians from the La Capilla de Santa Maria Latino congregation in Hendersonville, and Unitard promise to keep things lively.

Judges for the competition include Jeff Miller, owner of Luella's Barbecue and champion of last year's Tempeh Reuben Challenge, along with Chris Reedy of Blue Ridge Food Ventures, Bob Bowles of the Asheville Wine and Food Festival, Becky Upham of MANNA FoodBank, Stephen Smith of Asheville Green Opportunities and Carol Motsinger of the Asheville Citizen-Times.

“We'll have some folks who will go for the more traditional taco, and we'll have some who will be experimenting with shape and style as well as ingredients,” says event organizer J. Clarkson. He notes that participating chefs will be able to use Smiling Hara's regular soy tempeh as well as its black-eyed pea variety.

The competition is a fundraiser for MANNA FoodBank. According to event promoters, every dollar raised from the competition will allow MANNA to provide three meals for local people in need.

The Epic Tempeh Taco Challenge takes place 2-6 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 13, at Asheville Music Hall. Tickets are $15 and are available at or


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