Small bites: Great American Vegan Chili Cook-Off

HOLD THE CHICKEN: No meat or animal products are on the menu at Full Circle Farm Sanctuary's upcoming chili cook-off. Funds from the vegan event will support the expansion of founder and executive director Kayla Worden's Burnsville-based organization, which currently houses nearly 50 creatures. That includes matriach hen Ophelia, who "was unwanted by her previous Asheville backyard chickener, since her egg production was in decline," says Worden, pictured. Photo courtesy of Full Circle Farm Sanctuary

“I have seen at least a couple of accounts over the last few months of folks winning chili cook-off competitions with a vegan chili,” says Full Circle Farm Sanctuary’s Anne Landry. “They just entered, and in some cases, didn’t even disclose that it was vegan until after they had won.”

A victorious recipe free of animal products will certainly be the outcome at the upcoming Great American Vegan Chili Cook-Off that Landry is organizing to benefit Full Circle. With an open invitation to chefs and amateurs alike, she expects to round up 10-12 chili varieties, and local food businesses Eden Out, No Evil Foods and Nectar Café have already confirmed their participation in the contest.

Entrants can compete in several categories — traditional, most creative, professional and amateur — all of which will be voted on by attendees. An overall champion will also be crowned. The smorgasbord of samples will come accompanied by Underground Baking Co.’s sourdough cornbread and an almond-based “cheeze dip” by Sama SPREAD.

“Everyone is welcome,” Landry says, hoping that nonvegans will attend the event as well. One of her goals is “to open people up to the idea that they can eat delicious [vegan] food, very similar in every way — texture, taste and the overall experience — [to what] they’re used to in a nonvegan dish.” In a broader sense, the event is aimed at nudging veganism in all of its forms (including decisions surrounding clothing, consumer goods and investment vehicles, for example) further into the mainstream.

Money raised will be funneled toward Full Circle’s current crowdfunding campaign, which was launched to help secure a larger, flatter piece of land to house Full Circle’s expanding roster of nonhuman residents. An anonymous donor is doubling all contributions up to the $50,000 mark.

While the cook-off’s culinary competitors stand to win gift certificates from local businesses, there’s also a raffle for attendees with chocolates and products from a vitamin company among the loot. There will be live music during the event, plus, Landry says, “Sanctuary Brewing Co. is always open to folks that want to bring their furry and feathery friends as an escort.”

Full Circle’s fundraiser is at Sanctuary Brewing Co., 147 First Avenue E., Hendersonville, 2-5 p.m. Sunday, March 20. The deadline for entering the chili competition is Tuesday, March 15. Tickets ($15) and information are available at

The dance and food of India

As part of Folkmoot’s celebration of cultural exchange, Waynesville belly dance educator and professional belly dancer Meaghann Lynn will perform a folk dance from Rajasthan while attendees partake of a buffet-style, vegetarian Indian dinner. “She will start with a traditional Rajasthani children’s game and then speak about the history of this dance,” reads an event description. “And, yes, attendees will also get to dance.”

The community dinner is at Folkmoot Friendship Center, 112 Virginia Ave., Waynesville, at 6 p.m. Friday, March 11. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youths or $30 per family. Visit or call the Folkmoot office at 452-2997 for more details or tickets.

Experimenting with single-hop beers

Single-origin coffee has inched its way into the spotlight, so why not single-hop beer? “With all the new hop varietals on the market these days, it’s good to know what they taste like in your brew,” says Hops & Vines owner Alex Buerckholtz. “Most beers, especially hoppy beers, use a combination of several hops during and after the boil.” An upcoming free, educational workshop and tasting led by Buerckholtz, however, will focus on homemade and commercial beers that use just one varietal.

The class is at Hops & Vines, 797 Haywood Road, Suite 100, 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, March 15. Visit for more information.

Chai Pani redirects its community giving

Chai Pani’s Kids Eat Free program has come to an end, and the restaurant will instead partner with area nonprofits. “As our business has grown, our desire to contribute to our community has grown too,” reads a company press release. “The first Wednesday of each month, we will donate 10 percent of dinner sales to a local organization that we believe is doing meaningful work in our community.” Chai Pani will also use its social media and public relations efforts to highlight the selected charities’ work.

Chai Pani is at 22 Battery Park Ave. Visit for more information on the eatery.


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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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3 thoughts on “Small bites: Great American Vegan Chili Cook-Off

  1. boatrocker

    Hell yeah- bring it! Any kind of chili cook off- but most wild animals bite, peck or otherwise maul me when I cradle them in my arms.
    Is a selfie obligatory for entering?

    • Kat McReynolds

      I’m not certain you’re referring to the photo of Kayla… but I just want to make sure you know that if both arms are in the frame, it’s not a selfie. Common misconception. Thanks for stopping by! And feel free to add a selfie to your Xpress profile, though it’s not required for the cook off.

  2. Hope folks will come on out for the delicious FUN! And, just an update, our family circle here at the sanctuary now has grown to nearly 60 rescued resident animals! :)

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