Small bites: Feasting for FEAST

COOKING FOR A CAUSE: Rhubarb's chef, John Fleer, left, is one of the many chefs participating in this year's Feasting for FEAST event. The fundraiser doubles as a small-scale food festival. Photo by Jessica Merchant

From kindergarten through eighth grade, FEAST participants learn about the sources and preparation of local produce and how to incorporate these Fresh, Easy, Affordable, Sustainable, Tasty items into their daily lives. Students walk away from the program with “extensive knowledge of locally grown produce, a fully developed garden and kitchen skill set and weekly exposure to fresh produce through the time their taste buds are developing,” according to FEAST co-founder and Executive Director Kate Justen.

In the past three years, FEAST has hired five educators and a program coordinator and expanded its enrollment from 250 grade school pupils per year to about 1,500. To continue this growth, Justen’s team will hold its fifth annual Feasting for FEAST event, which serves as a culinary taste-off in addition to being a fundraiser.

“Each year, the event takes on its own personality,” Justen says, noting that the mini food festival is always casual, fun and offers plenty of time to chat with participating restaurateurs. This year, attendees can sample veggie-laden bites from All Souls Pizza, Blue Dream Curry, Chai Pani, Cucina 24, French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Gan Shan Station, King Daddy’s Chicken and Waffle, Laughing Seed Café, Renaissance Asheville Hotel, Rhubarb, Roots hummus, Mother Earth Produce, Sunny Point Café, West End Bakery, Westville Pub, Whole Foods Market and Greenlife Grocery with drinks from Biltmore Winery, Oyster House Brewing Co., Riverbend Malt House and Green Sage Café.

James Beard finalist chef Katie Button will also prepare a few healthy dishes for the event on behalf of her restaurants Curate and Nightbell.

​”There’s a disconnect between food that kids get in the grocery store — like mini carrots — and real food: carrots with dirt on them that are fresh and delicious,” Button says. “I believe if kids learn to plant, grow and cook food, they get more excited and adventurous to eat it.”

“During the night, kids will show and tell what they learned at FEAST classes, and there will also be a door prize, raffle and silent auction,” Justen adds. “It’s a great way to try out a lot of our top chefs in one place while supporting a good cause.”

Feasting for FEAST is at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel, 31 Woodfin St., on Thursday, Sept. 10, from 6-9 p.m. Tickets, $35 in advanced and $40 on the day of the event, and further information are available at

Cider crafting workshop and tasting

Juice, yeast and patience are nearly all you need to make outstanding cider at home, according to Hops & Vines’ manager and self-described cider geek Rob Wise, who notes an abundance of apples available from Haywood County and neighboring farms. His forthcoming class will cover the basic process of home-making hard cider, “from varietal selection, yeast selection, adjunct usage, to fermentation techniques from start to finish,” he says, adding that he’ll touch on alternative fruit-based or adjunct fermentables. “Plus, I plan to open some classic ciders from both the Old World and new.”

Rob Wise’s free cider workshop and tasting is at Hops & Vines, 797 Haywood Road, on Tuesday, Sept. 8, from 6-7 p.m. Visit for more information.

Thirsty Fest

All year long, Thirsty Monk employees squirrel away the best and rarest kegs in anticipation of the bar’s weeklong Thirsty Fest, according to pub Vice President Chall Gray. This year’s selection of “the scarce, the unique, the exceptional and the downright unusual” includes specialty finds like Bell’s Brewery’s Hopsolution, Founders Brewing Co.’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Bomb! from Prairie Artisan Ales, Sierra Nevada’s barrel-aged Bigfoot Ale, Delirium Tremens’ 25th anniversary Argentum, Grand Teton Brewing Co.’s Grand Sour Saison, Sweetwater Brewing Co.’s The Pit & The Pendulum and Het Anker’s Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor, among others.

Thirtsy Fest is at the Thirsty Monk and Top of the Monk, 92 Patton Ave., during the bars’ opening hours from Monday, Sept. 7, until Monday, Sept. 13. Visit for more information.

Farmhouse dinner collaboration

“Fermentation. Preservation. Maturation.” That’s the theme of an elaborate, one-off dinner Wicked Weed co-owner Walt Dickinson and Table chef Jacob Sessoms are teaming up to create. The six-course experience includes dishes like hop- and hay-smoked scallop with whole muscadine grape skins, milk bread, toasted hay butter, herb blossom and grape flesh relish; whole cherry-aged duck with butter and sugar roasted sunchokes, sea urchin and burnt sugar-beer caramel; and a host of other ingredients you won’t find on many menus in town — charred dandelion dust, anyone? Dishes will be paired with Dickerson’s barreled farmhouse sour beers, some of which will be available only at this event.

The farmhouse dinner is at Table, 48 College St., on Thursday, Sept. 10, at 6 p.m. Tickets are $100 per person before tax and gratuity, and only 40 seats are available. Email for more information or to reserve a seat.


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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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