Small bites: A dozen local bands play for Food Connection

WASTE NOT: Five times per week, Food Connection facilitates the transportation of excess food from UNC Asheville to area organizations, including Hall Fletcher Elementary's Music Works! program. Youths in that after-school group will perform at Food Connection's upcoming benefit concert. Pictured, from left, are Food Connection co-founder Flori Pate, Music Works! administrative coordinator and teaching artist David Wilken, program director Brian Kellum and Food Connection board member Leslie Sharpe. Photo courtesy of Food Connection

In just over a year, Food Connection has saved 14,000 perishable meals from the dumpster. And with an upcoming concert at The Grey Eagle, the nonprofit hopes to raise money to help increase its impact even more in the coming months.

Food Connection initially operated by paying cab fare to send restaurants’ excess to nearby shelters, schools or other organizations in need. But with increasing frequency, co-founder Flori Pate is pairing caterers and other food suppliers like UNC Asheville — which previously composted about 100 pounds of leftovers daily — with drivers who have volunteered to collect on behalf of various entities across Western North Carolina.

“We’re kind of like the for people who need food and [those who] have too much food,” she says, noting an uptick in volume and geographic reach since the transition to more of a facilitating role.

Pate, who also created the Dig Local mobile app, is currently exploring how she could apply technology from that venture to Food Connection’s operations. Formerly called Local Flavor, the existing app includes profiles and updated happenings from a host of Asheville entities that could conceivably self-identify surpluses and needs using the service. “It could even be a platform where you see what drivers are available,” she says.

Her daily routine also involves educating potential suppliers on the federal Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which protects donors and recipients against liability in case of a food-borne illnesses or other harm to the consumer. Explaining that legislation, she says, has been critical to attracting support.

“We never imagined it would take off in the way that it has, but it’s thrilling,” Pate says of the nonprofit’s growth. “And we have big plans for this year, too. That’s where the benefit concert comes into play.”

Twelve local bands — all of which are featured on Dig Local — will play short, 20- to 25-minute sets, making the evening a crash course in the sounds of Western North Carolina. Performers include Lyric, Red Honey, The Paper Crowns, Posh Hammer, Jr. James & the Late Guitar, stephaniesĭd, Juan Holladay, Debrissa & The Bear King, The Bread & Butter Band, The Wilhelm Brothers, Doss Church and Abby the Spoon Lady. Plus, the kids of MusicWorks! will open the show.

“We’ve got such a cool variety of music,” Pate says, noting folk, bluegrass, electronica, rock, funk, soul and more.

Up for raffle at the show are prizes such as a night at the Aloft Asheville Downtown, a night and dinner for two at the Sourwood Inn, a cruiser bike from New Belgium Brewing Co. and more. The Grey Eagle’s taqueria will have food for sale during the event.

“We want everyone to feel welcome — college kids, families, anyone,” Pate says. “This is our one big fundraiser that we do every year, and last year’s concert was really the reason we were able to keep Food Connection going.”

Food Connection’s benefit is at The Grey Eagle on Saturday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m. Information and tickets ($10/$12) are available at Raffle tickets are $5 each or five for $20.

Catawba Brewing Co.’s Cabin Fever Brunch

Grove Park Inn chef Philip Bolhoefer is preparing a five-course brunch to benefit local nonprofit Eliada. Not only will each dish come paired with a Catawba Brewing Co. beer or beer cocktail, but elements of the brewing process will also be incorporated into the dishes themselves. Bolhoefer’s smoked trout, for example, will be served on spent-grain toast, and his prime rib will be topped with vanilla stout hollandaise. Other menu items include a poached egg with truffle, chives and hops on brioche; 72-hour, barrel-aged pork belly and grits; and to finish, chocolate brioche French toast with bacon candy and Revenuers Red Ale caramel.

Cabin Fever Brunch is noon-3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, at Catawba Brewing Co., 32 Banks Ave. Visit for details or tickets, which are $65 per person.

Want to be a wine judge?

The French Broad Vignerons is offering a three-part wine evaluation class series for those interested in joining the Vignerons and judging at competitive wine events. Training will be led by head judge Bill Fish, among others. Previous judges may be recertified on any of the three dates, but advancement as a new judge requires successful completion of all three sessions. Wine event opportunities begin in mid-June.

Training sessions are 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturdays, March 12, April 9 and May 14 at Rinehart Racing, 260 Rutledge Road, Fletcher. There is a $20 materials fee for each new judge class and a $10 fee for recertification. Email to apply to participate or visit for more details.

Bee School 2016

Experienced beekeepers from the southern Appalachian region will lead the Center for Honeybee Research’s 2016 Bee School. The nonprofit’s two-day course aims to prepare individuals to successfully navigate their first year of managing honeybee colonies. Proceeds from this cooperative education project, which involves the Blue Ridge Parkway Service, Buncombe County Beekeepers and volunteers, will benefit the Center for Honeybee Research.

Bee School is 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, March 5, and 12:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday, March 6, at the Folk Art Center Auditorium, Milepost 382 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Cost is $45 per person. Visit to register or for more information.


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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2 thoughts on “Small bites: A dozen local bands play for Food Connection

  1. Lan Sluder

    Speaking of small bites, what’s happening with Red Ginger? It opened last week, after months of delays but since then on at least two occasions it has been closed when we or friends went to have lunch there, with a sign out saying “We’ve run out of food.” Last time, some staffer put her head out and just said, “Sorry, we’re closed.”


    We were looking forward to a dim sum restaurant here, even if it’s not a real dim sum place like the ones we’ve enjoyed in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, etc., but this makes us wonder what’s going on with the management of Red Ginger? Is the owner getting things straightened out?

    • Kat McReynolds

      Hey Lan,

      The owner Mary Medvedev offers the following response to your comment: We were crazy busy the past weekend, and due to [offering] hand crafted food , a lot of items are made in limited quantities . Therefore , we had to close for a half day to back up all inventories in order to serve better on Monday lunch! We sincerely apologize for all the inconvenience . To provide the highest quality service is my goal, and we try our best to serve the community!

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