Patrick O’Cain, chef and owner of Gan Shan Station and Gan Shan West, has a structured approach to business and being. “I’m someone who evaluates life in five-year blocks,” he says.
With a new decade underway, O’Cain recently reflected on the state of Gan Shan Station, which he opened in 2015. Ultimately, he determined that the Asian-themed restaurant had run its course on Charlotte Street. “I looked five years out, and I couldn’t really see a way to continue it that wasn’t as taxing or more taxing than the last five years,” he says. “And that wasn’t OK with me.”
Interested in both simplifying his life and exploring options outside the culinary world, O’Cain will close Gan Shan Station on Friday, Jan. 31. The decision, notes the chef, brings a welcome sigh of relief. “Over the last few years,” he says, “my passion for it has simply diminished.”
Though he does not anticipate missing the daily grind, O’Cain says he will miss his interactions with the community and Charlotte Street neighbors. Since plans for the closure appeared on social media, he adds, “people have been showing up expressing their gratitude and sadness.”
But regulars can rest assured: Gan Shan West will continue offering counter service at its West Asheville location. O’Cain says the venue, which he opened in 2017, will also expand its menu to include some of Gan Shan Station’s most popular dishes.
Replacing Gan Shan Station will be Jettie Rae’s Oyster House, a fresh seafood concept created by O’Cain’s friend and mentor, Eric Scheffer, owner of Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian. The two men have worked closely together in preparing for the transition. Gan Shan Station’s chef de cuisine, Will Cisa, will stay on as Jettie Rae’s executive chef.
With 20 years’ experience in the culinary scene, Scheffer says he’s established strong relationships with several seafood suppliers. He plans to source lobster, fish, oysters, clams and other fare from the Carolina shores, as well as Maine, Georgia and the Gulf Coast.
Scheffer envisions Jettie Rae’s as a neighborhood hangout, with outdoor grilling during the warmer months. He also sees it as a way to bring coastal traditions to the mountains, including crawfish boils and oyster roasts.
Above all, Scheffer notes, Jettie Rae’s will adhere to his philosophical approach to the restaurant industry — an approach that has sustained his own passion over the last 20 years. “To be able to deliver food and drink — the two things that sustain us as human beings — in an environment that creates a dining experience that people, hopefully, will remember for the rest of their lives, that is rewarding to me,” he says.
Gan Shan Station is at 143 Charlotte St. The restaurant will hold its final dinner service on Friday, Jan. 31. Jettie Rae’s Oyster House is slated to open in the spring.
Slicing through the basics
The French Broad Food Co-op will host a knife skills workshop on Saturday, Feb. 1, when participants will “mince madly, dice with dignity and learn to make gorgeous matchsticks,” says the class description. The course will also cover proper form and technique and types of knives used in a kitchen, and participants will receive a take-home packet and instructions on how to sharpen cutting utensils.
The class runs 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at French Broad Food Co-op, 90 Biltmore Ave. Tickets are $45 for co-op members and $55 for the general public. For tickets, visit avl.mx/6v4.
Super Bowl LIV
The Kansas City Chiefs and San Fransisco 49ers will face off at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2, for this year’s Super Bowl. To celebrate, Eluvium Brewing Co. in Weaverville will host a chili cook-off during the game; judging starts at 5:30 p.m. with a winner announced during halftime. For more details, contact firstname.lastname@example.org (avl.mx/6v5). In Biltmore Village, Casablanca Cigar Bar will also host a chili cook-off with a $50 gift card for the winner (avl.mx/6v6). Meanwhile, in East Asheville, Creekside Taphouse will have game day food and drink specials, including a platter that includes four chicken wings, pulled pork, cornbread muffins and beef brisket with collard greens and macaroni and cheese (avl.mx/6v7). Xpress writer Thomas Calder’s ill-informed Super Bowl prediction is Kansas City, 27, San Fransisco, 24.
Best classic restaurant
Food & Wine magazine recently included The Market Place in its list of best classic restaurants in America. The publication noted the local restaurant’s long-term success in Asheville (41 years), as well as its “local harvest-centric menu.”
For a complete list of featured restaurants, visit avl.mx/6v8.
Chow Chow’s new executive director
The nonprofit Chow Chow Asheville, which held its inaugural food festival last year, recently hired Rebecca Lynch as the nonprofit’s first executive director. Lynch previously held the position of campaign manager at the Asheville Art Museum. In a press release, Chow Chow Asheville board President Katie Button says, “Rebecca brings her deep farming roots in Western North Carolina, along with her considerable expertise as a leader and fund development professional to our organization.” In addition to hiring Lynch, the nonprofit also retained Shay Brown Events of Asheville to oversee the festival operations, design and logistics. The 2020 Chow Chow festival takes place Sept. 10-13.