Small bites

GOING REGIONAL: A-B Tech's culinary team members include, from left,:Alex Harris, Kristina Costa, Jadrien O'Hannon (team manager), Ruth Solis, Daniel Radle (alternate) and Caroline Williams. Photo by Charles DeVries

Food news to go

A-B Tech Culinary Team preps for regional competition

A-B Tech’s Culinary Arts Program is heading to the South Carolina Lowcountry. A team of students from the program will test their kitchen chops in the American Culinary Federation’s 2014 Southeast Region Student Team Championship in Charleston on Monday, April 28.

The five team members will compete against teams from The College of the Bahamas in Nassau, Bahamas; Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in both Atlanta and Miami; and Sullivan University in Louisville, Ky., for a shot at advancing to the national competition in Kansas City, Mo., in July.

The regional competition consists of three phases: cold-food presentation, skills and cooking. During the cooking phase, teams will prepare four portions of the classical French fish starter matelote plus a chicken entrée, salad and dessert of their choice from Escoffier: The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery.

According to team manager Jadrien O’Hannon, a first-year culinary arts student, the team is ready to bring its A game. Students have been practicing three days a week and consulting with local chefs to hone their skills. “We’re drawing from a lot of sources,” he says. “I think we have a really good shot.”

To compete at the regional level, teams must first win local and state competitions. Teams from A-B Tech won the southeast championship in 1997, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013, and A-B Tech won the national title in 2007.  


Sake at Ben’s

It’s official: Ben’s Tune-Up is brewing sake. The South Slope restaurant, beer garden and now sake brewery, will release its long-awaited, made-on-site rice spirit at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 1. Several fresh varieties of Ben’s American Sake will be available in flights and as single servings. All will be unpasteurized, chilled and on tap. More details to come.

Ben’s Tune Up is at 195 Hilliard Ave.


Chili for Change

The Buncombe County Democratic Party and the political action committee 9ers of Western North Carolina will host the first annual Chili for Change chili contest 2-6 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at Highland Brewing Co. on Old Charlotte Highway. Local celebrity judges including Brian Turner, Tate McQueen, Terry Bellamy, John Ager and Keith Young will choose winners in three categories: vegetarian, anything goes and terlingua. The terlingua category is described by organizers as “championship-style chili” containing all beef and no beans, with no ground beef allowed.

Admission for noncompetitors is $5 and includes all-you-can eat chili samples. Winners will receive gift cards to Katuah Market and local brewery tasting rooms. The entry fee is $10. To enter, contact Devin Walsh at 333-1776 or at, or just show up with a slow cooker full of chili and a $10 bill. Proceeds will benefit the 9er Notes, a quarterly political flier created by the officers of the 9th Precinct, and will support the 9th’s annual contribution to the county Democratic party.


Celebrating Indian truck stops

Indian truck stop food, anyone? MG Road will host a screening of the short documentary film Horn Please, which examines Indian truck art, on Sunday, April 27. The event opens with a social hour starting at 7 p.m., followed by the film at 8 p.m. The ticket price of $20 also includes a meal of authentic Indian truck stop food and a glass of Grand Trunk Road punch. Details about the film can be found at Tickets and event details are available at

MG Road is at 19 Wall St.


Lunch, brunch and evening service

It seems that the arrival of spring has prompted a number of local eateries to add new service hours to their existing schedules. West End Bakery and Café, which previously had only daytime hours, is now open 7-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Always a hot spot, the Haywood Road landmark now serves desserts, coffee and espresso, beer and wine, along with small-plate savories to West Asheville’s nighttime crowd.

Downtown, Chestnut recently introduced an 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday brunch service that offers everything from blintzes to roasted beet salad to chicken and waffles — and, of course, cocktails.

Rhubarb has also added brunch — 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays — with edible options like duck egg toad-in-the-hole and Chef John Fleer’s original sweet-tea fried chicken, as well as custom cocktails by bartender Hank Fuseler. The Pack Square restaurant is now closed only on Tuesdays.

Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder has rolled out both weekday lunch service and weekend brunch service. Now foodies can get their Southern-food fix 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, as well as during the restaurant’s regular evening hours.

In addition to its now-active sake brewery, Ben’s Tune-Up recently started offering its own take on a Chinese lunch buffet 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday. Look for healthy, Asian-inspired dishes including plenty of vegetarian options along with fresh fruit and salads. The buffet is a bargain at $7.99, and you can bring the whole family because ages 12 and younger eat for $4.99 and ages 5 and younger are free. The regular menu and brunch specials are available on weekends 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

West End Bakery and Café is at 757 Haywood Road.

Chestnut is at 48 Biltmore Ave.

Rhubarb is at 7 S.W. Pack Square.

Seven Sows is at 77 Biltmore Ave.

Ben’s Tune Up is at 195 Hilliard Ave.


About Gina Smith
Gina Smith is the Mountain Xpress Food section editor and writer. She can be reached at

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