Burnsville resident Ronni Lundy is the author of Victuals, An Appalachian Journey with Recipes, winner of the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards for Best Cookbook and Best American Cookbook. She reflects on what she considered to be some of the most impactful developments in the local food and beverage community in 2019.
Benne on Eagle. The single most important event of 2019, not simply in Western North Carolina, not just in the world of Southern foodways, but in the American food scene overall, is the opening of Benne on Eagle. Ashleigh Shanti’s brilliant menu, developed with community activist/cook Hanan Shabazz and restaurant owner/chef John Fleer, is alone worthy of Time‘s designation of Benne as one of the 100 Greatest Places in the World. The restaurant matters profoundly for broadening the story of Appalachian and Asheville foodways to include the significant African American contribution to both cultures. And Fleer has demonstrated powerfully how white men who have profited most from the contemporary food economy can use their opportunities and position to create space for and shine a light on the vital work of women and other races.
Ashley Capps. Recognition from the James Beard Foundation Awards annual nominations for baker Ashley Capps thrilled me, not simply for the magnificent pastry menu she created at Buxton Hall Barbecue, but because she is a true collaborator with her peers. Looking forward to her next adventure.
Spicewalla. Likewise, I was excited about Oprah’s recognition of Spicewalla’s fresh, flavorful contribution to American foodways.
Homeplace Beer Co. In my own town of Burnsville, I’m thrilled that Homeplace Beer Co. is refurbishing a building downtown to become a brew hub focused on community and that the local farmers market will have a new, spacious, permanent home downtown.
Appalachian Food Summit. I’m excited that the Appalachian Food Summit announced that its 2020 gathering will take place in Western North Carolina for a deep dive into the past and future of our foodways.