Small bites: Chow Chow culinary festival prepares for its debut

ACROSS THE BOARD: Pictured, from left, are a few members of the Chow Chow Asheville board of directors: Mike Tiano, Kevin Barnes, Elizabeth Sims, Peter Pollay, Dodie Stephens, Aaron Grier, Katie Button, Jael Rattigan, Jessica Reiser, Adrian Vassallo and John Fleer. The inaugural Chow Chow: An Asheville Culinary Event runs Sept. 12-15 at locations in and around Asheville. Photo by Hannah Ramirez

Over the last year and a half, some of the biggest names in Asheville’s food and beverage industries have joined forces to create the nonprofit Chow Chow Asheville. The group’s president is Katie Button, the multiple James Beard Award-nominated chef and owner of Cúrate and Button & Co. Bagels. Its vice president, Jael Rattigan, is the co-founder and CEO of French Broad Chocolates. Among the other members of Chow Chow’s board of directors are Chai Pani Restaurant Group founder Meherwan Irani, Rhubarb and The Rhu owner and chef John Fleer and Sovereign Remedies’ owner and operator Charlie Hodge.

The organization’s mission is to celebrate Asheville and Southern Appalachia through a four-day food festival that highlights all aspects of the dining experience — from the makers who create the tableware and other items to the chefs and mixologists who prepare the dishes and drinks. The citywide festival, Chow Chow: An Asheville Culinary Event, will debut Thursday, Sept. 12, and continue through Sunday, Sept. 15.

The gathering will feature over 100 participating chefs, 75 beverage professionals and dozens of regional artists and makers hosting a variety of ticketed meals and workshops ranging in price from $25-$150. In addition, a pair of free events will take place at Pack Square Park: the Food Truck Rodeo, which runs Friday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., and the Makers Market Open Friday-Sunday, noon-5 p.m.

Button notes that organizing the festival has been a lot like opening a new restaurant. “Except it all happens in one weekend, and it’s so much bigger,” she says with a laugh.

Through its partnership with MANNA FoodBank, the four-day festival will also educate attendees about the region’s struggle with food insecurity. “September is Hunger Awareness Month,” says Button, who notes that one in four children in Western North Carolina experience uncertainty over when and where their next meal will come from.

Though it offers dozens of individual events, Button says at its core, Chow Chow is a celebration of the region’s food and beverage artisans and their dedication to the area. “The people on this board live in Asheville. We’re committed to Asheville. We’ve created our businesses here because we love Asheville,” Button says.

“I think that’s important to know,” she continues. “It’s not somebody from the outside coming in and trying to put on a festival. It’s us being like, ‘Let’s create something that we are proud of, and that tells the story of Southern Appalachia and Western North Carolina.”

Chow Chow: An Asheville Culinary Event, runs Thursday-Sunday, Sept. 12-15. Times and locations vary. To learn more, visit avl.mx/6gm. For more on Hunger Awareness Month, visit avl.mx/6gn.

Girls Gone Wine

On Wednesday, Sept. 11, District Wine Bar will launch its monthly giveback series, Girls Gone Wine. The inaugural event will benefit Helpmate, a local nonprofit that provides services to victims of domestic violence in Buncombe County. According to a press release, guests are invited to “sip, shop and party with a purpose.” Moving forward, the events will take place the second Wednesday of each month, highlighting area nonprofits that focus on women and women’s issues.

Girls Gone Wine runs 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, at District Wine Bar, 37 Paynes Way. For more information, visit avl.mx/4sk.

Sunil’s Indian cooking classes

Sunil Patel will host a four-part Indian food cooking series on Sundays starting Sept. 15. The evening courses will cover the foundations of Indian cooking (Sept. 15), main dishes and salads (Sept. 22), snacks and chutneys (Sept. 29), and breads and pickles (Oct. 6) Class size is limited to 10 people. Classes are designed to stand alone, however those who sign up for all four will receive a free spice box. Each evening will conclude with food samples and a discussion. Tickets are $65 per class or $220 for the series.

Classes run 6-9 p.m. Sundays beginning Sept. 15, at Pearson Garden, 408 Pearson Drive. Location is subject to change. For details, visit avl.mx/6gl.

New menu at Monk’s Flask

Monk’s Flask recently debuted a new tapas menu. The latest additions “allow us to work with proteins and vegetables you wouldn’t necessarily find on Thirsty Monk’s bar menu,” says Joanna Postlethwaite, marketing and events coordinator at Monk’s Flask. Menu highlights include roasted cauliflower, citrus duck, hummus-stuffed Roma tomatoes and tuna nitsume. Prices range from $6-$13. “Chef Clint Betts has done a fantastic job pairing flavor and presentation in every thoughtful dish,” notes Postlethwaite.

Monk’s Flask is at 2 Town Square Blvd. Closed Mondays. Hours vary. For more information, visit avl.mx/6gj.

Mr. Sushi comes to Merrimon Avenue

Mr. Sushi is slated to open a second location in North Asheville later this month. An exact date has not been set, but the family-owned and operated eatery will take over the Merrimon Avenue space previously occupied by BadHappy Poutine. Expansion, notes owner Nandar Win, was always the goal for the business, which launched in 2016. Win says her desire to operate in North Asheville stems from her previous stints as a sushi chef at Greenlife Grocery (now Whole Foods Market) and The Fresh Market, both on Merrimon Avenue. Fans of the Hendersonville Road location will find the same menu options and hours at the restaurant’s new spot.

Mr. Sushi is scheduled to open mid-September at 354 Merrimon Ave. Suite 50. For details, visit avl.mx/6gg.

Benne on Eagle earns recognition

Benne on Eagle was included in Time magazine’s 2019 World’s Greatest Places. “Informed by the West African spirit of sankofa, which encourages living with a deep respect for history, chef Ashleigh Shanti has developed dishes that recognize the influence of the African diaspora in the Appalachian South by weaving in nods to both cultures,” the magazine notes. For the complete list, see avl.mx/6gi.

Benne on Eagle is at 35 Eagle St. For details, visit avl.mx/5os.

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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist.

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