Small bites: Celebrity chef dishes up paella

GOING BIG: Pictured with his wife, Olga, chef Jeff Bannister's most ambitious paella dinner involved a 55-inch pan that served 200 people. Photo courtesy of the Bannisters

Celebrity grillmaster Jeff “Rhino” Bannister will prepare paella at a Spanish food and wine fundraiser for Asheville Music School on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at District Wine Bar. Tickets include paella, small-bite Spanish pintxos and Spanish wine pairings with tastings of small-production or estate-grown bottles. Live entertainment will be by flamenco guitarist Juan Benavides and percussionist Ryan Oslance. Based in Greenville, S.C., Bannister has received national attention for his Bovinoche series of whole-animal dinners and has appeared on several TV shows on the Food Network, the Cooking Channel, the Travel Channel and more. He recently spent three weeks traveling through and eating paella in Spain’s Andalusia region. Proceeds from the dinner support Asheville Music School’s scholarship and community outreach programs.

The Spanish food and wine fundraiser for Asheville Music School will be 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, at District Wine Bar, 37 Paynes Way. Tickets are $70 ($600 for business-sponsored tables of six). Purchase tickets at or through the Facebook event page at

Students showcase culinary skills

Hosted by Southside Kitchen, Green Opportunities and A-B Tech, the Kitchen Ready Showcase Dinner on Friday, Nov. 2, spotlights skills Green Opportunities’ culinary students have learned during their first eight weeks of training. Suggested donation is $10 (or pay what you can). The menu will be announced.

The Kitchen Ready Showcase Dinner has seatings at 5:30 and 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, at the Arthur R. Edington Education & Career Center, 133 Livingston St. For details or to volunteer as a front-of-house server, contact Gwen Hill at 828-398-4158, ext. 112, or 

Hickory Nut Gap Farm celebrates sausages

Music, house-made sausages, local brews and a musical chair competition? It’s time for Hickory Nut Gap Farm’s Sausage Fest on Saturday, Nov. 3. Hickory Nut Gap will roll out some specialty sausage recipes along with Oktoberfest games and samples from local businesses, including Lusty Monk Mustard and Fermenti. Music will be by Cane Creek Hellbenders. Included with admission are the corn maze, corn pit, grass maze, hay bale climb, pumpkin patch, toddler hay maze and apple sampling.

Hickory Nut Gap Farm’s Sausage Fest will be 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3. Tickets are $4-$9 in advance at and $8-$12 at the farm on Nov. 3.

Fermentation Festival gears up

Local and regional fermenters will show how to prepare gut-friendly foods at the free Fermentation Festival on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Madison County Cooperative Extension Center in Marshall. The event is a fundraiser for Beacon of Hope Services, a local food pantry. Hosted by Fermenti, a creator of fermented foods in Marshall, the event is a celebration of fermentation, food preservation, farming and food security, as well as of beneficial foods and drinks like kraut, jun, sourdough, ciders, apple cider vinegar, chocolates, vegan cheese and pet food. Organizers expect to double last year’s 1,000-person attendance. Increasingly popular among a wide spectrum of food enthusiasts, fermentation is “a heritage preservation method that is essential to our future,” says event organizer Meg Chamberlain. Fermentation is “a way to get complex flavors that you can’t get otherwise. It’s a means to reduce food waste and to cut home food budgets. It’s a really fun skill. I like it because I see it as food and science for the creative foodie. And it’s delicious.”

The Fermentation Festival will be noon-6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Madison County Cooperative Extension Center, 258 Carolina Lane, Marshall. Learn more at

Go nuts about foraging

The Nutty Buddy Collective will host an all-ages class with local sustainability educator Justin Holt Wednesday, Nov. 7. Holt will explain how to identify native nut trees then harvest and store the nuts for later use. Included are details about how to participate in the collective’s Acornucopia Project community foraging initiative, as well as a tour of the nut processing facility at Smith Mill Works. Participants will receive a voucher for a free bottle of wild nut oil to be redeemed once the project’s harvest is processed in the coming weeks. Tickets are on a sliding scale of $10-$20 with all proceeds supporting the Acornucopia Project. Ages 12 and younger are free.

The class is 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, at Smith Mill Works, 80 Cowan Cove Road. Visit for more information.

Compost that jack-o’-lantern

Don’t trash that Halloween pumpkin. Local food waste warriors CompostNow and Asheville GreenWorks will host a free community event — Smash Don’t Trash — on Sunday, Nov. 4 at New Belgium Brewing. Bring your jack-o’-lantern to be composted. The event will host pumpkin drop-off, pumpkin smashing stations, kid-friendly activities and music on the New Belgium Brewery lawn (you’ll also get a $1 off the Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin beer while supplies last). All compost created at the event will be shared with Sand Hill Community Garden and Asheville GreenWork’s Sand Hill Orchard and Nursery.

Smash Don’t Trash happens noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, at New Belgium Brewing Co., 21 Craven St.

Ministry collects food for holidays

Interfaith Assistance Ministry, the largest provider of crisis services to Henderson County residents, is accepting turkeys, hams and holiday foods until Friday. Dec. 21, for its second Holiday Food Drive. Last year, IAM provided holiday meals to more than 440 children and adults who needed crisis assistance during the holiday season. “IAM’s goal is to provide every family or adult who seeks assistance during November or December with a complete holiday meal they can eat at home,” says Elizabeth Willson Moss, IAM’s executive director. “We hope to take some of the financial stress out of the holidays for our local neighbors who are struggling.” IAM needs donations of 6- to 10-pound hams and 10- to 15-pound turkeys as well as the side dishes to complete the meal (stuffing mix, gravy mix or canned gravy, sweet potatoes or yams, canned fruits, canned green beans and other vegetables, cranberry sauce, cake mix, icing and pie filling).

Bring donations to IAM at 310 Freeman St., near the Blue Ridge Mall, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. Pickups can be arranged by calling Interfaith at 828-697-7029. Mail tax-deductible contributions to IAM, P.O. Box 2562, Hendersonville, NC 28793, or make them at


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About Paul Clark
Based in Asheville, NC, Paul Clark has been writing for newspapers, magazines and websites for more than 40 years. He is an award-winning journalist, writer and photographer. Some of his photography can be seen at Google his name to find stories and photos that have appeared in magazines and newspapers throughout the Southeast.

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