Small bites: Kitchen Ready Showcase Dinner spotlights New Orleans fare

INGREDIENTS FOR SUCCESS: Former Kitchen Ready student Kendel Bethea, left, and soon-to-be graduate Walter Brannan work together in the program's prep kitchen. Photo by Gwen Hill/Green Opportunities

After 15 weeks of instruction, the latest Green Opportunities Kitchen Ready graduates are ready to showcase their culinary skills in the program’s ceremonial dinner. The theme for the Friday, May 18, gathering is the cuisine of New Orleans.

For Gwen Hill, Green Opportunities’ communications manager, the event offers locals a unique chance to support and celebrate the accomplishments of their fellow community members. Since its establishment in 2012, the training program for low-income adults who face difficulty finding employment has graduated over 100 participants. According to Hill, 80-85 percent of these people go on to find employment in the local food service and hospitality industries.

The dinner also offers a chance to dine out at an affordable price. The only cost for the meal is a recommended $10 donation, but diners are welcome to pay anything they can. “We are based in the Southside Community,” Hill says. “A lot of public housing residents live around us. The evening is a great opportunity for people to come in with their families and a get a three-course meal that they might not necessarily have access to if they went to downtown Asheville and tried to eat in a restaurant there.”

Hopefully, Hill says, the evening will also inspire folks to learn more about the Kitchen Ready program and possibly enroll in its upcoming cycle, which begins Monday, May 21. “If you’ve never been to a dinner in Southside Kitchen, we would love to have you come and see what we’re doing here,” she says. “It’s a really cool, unique place, unlike any other dining room in Asheville.”

Kitchen Ready Showcase Dinner will host seatings at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, May 18, at Arthur R. Edington Education & Career Center, 133 Livingston St. Seating is first-come, first-served. The event is donation-based, with a $10 suggested contribution. All offerings support the Kitchen Ready program. No menu was available at press time. To learn more, visit avl.mx/4xg.

A Taste of the Vineyard

Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cidery will host A Taste of the Vineyard, its fifth annual fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Henderson County, on Friday, May 18. The evening will feature food prepared by Flat Rock’s Cuisine Team, including Champagne-marinated shrimp with tarragon, sweet-and-sour meatballs in an apricot sauce and a Mediterranean walnut pesto chickpea dip. Tickets include a complimentary glass of wine from Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards, and a cash bar will be available featuring Green Man Brewery products. A silent auction at the event will offer items ranging from a Caribbean vacation to an Asheville getaway featuring two passes to the Biltmore Estate and dinners at Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Red Stag Grill. “The event continues to grow,” says Joey Popp, the event’s chair committee. To date, he notes, the fundraiser has helped the nonprofit mentor 85 young people in Henderson County.

A Taste of the Vineyard runs 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, May 18, at the Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cidery’s historic barn next to Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards, 588 Chestnut Gap Road, Hendersonville. Tickets are $35. To purchase, visit avl.mx/4xc.

Chinese pu’ erh tea class

Dobrá Tea will host its latest tasting class on Sunday, May 20. The event will feature pu’ erh, a fermented and aged style of tea from the Yunnan province of China. Students will sample and discuss eight flavors, plus the event will feature a slideshow of images from recent travels to China by Dobrá Tea members.

Dobrá Tea’s Chinese Pu’ erh Tea Class runs 9-11 a.m. Sunday, May 20, at its downtown location, 78 N. Lexington Ave. Tickets are $20. Email asehville@dobratea.com or call 828-575-2424 to sign up.

Upcoming workshops at Villagers

Villagers will host Fermented Alcoholic Beverages with Marissa Percoco on Sunday, May 20. According to Villagers’ website, the class will discuss, sample and make a variety of fermented alcoholic drinks. The session runs 5:30-8:30 p.m., and tickets are $25-$50 per person on a sliding scale. Also, on Wednesday, May 23, Chelsea Monarda Fox will lead Canning the Harvest, where participants will learn basic techniques for canning fruits, vegetables and meats. Tickets are $20-$40 per person on a sliding scale. The class runs 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Both workshops take place at Villagers: Urban Homestead Supply, 278 Haywood Road. To buy tickets for Fermented Alcoholic Beverages, visit avl.mx/4xe. For Canning the Harvest tickets, visit avl.mx/4xf.

Biscuit Head celebrates five years

On Monday, May 21, Biscuit Head will celebrate its fifth anniversary with a free block party. The gathering will feature a complimentary Cajun-style Lundi Gras buffet with food options that include cochon de lait, catfish, gumbo and red beans and rice. Along with bites, there will be a cash bar and live music by Dr. Bacon. The celebration will also feature games and contests, including a blind hot-sauce tasting and a homemade jam contest. The winning homemade jam or jelly will be featured at Biscuit Head.

Biscuit Head’s fifth anniversary block party runs 3-7 p.m. Monday, May 21, in the parking lot at Biscuit Head and Isis Music Hall, 733 Haywood Road. Rain or shine. 

The Asheville Club

The Asheville Club opened Tuesday, March 8, in the downtown space at the corner of Haywood Street and Battery Park Avenue that for decades was home to Kim’s Wig Center. The venue’s name is a nod to the building’s original purpose. “We really wanted to connect with some Asheville history,” says owner Trevor Reis. Built in 1901 by Richard Sharp Smith, the present-day Miles Building began as the headquarters for the Asheville Club, an all-male, nonpolitical organization (see “Asheville Archives: The Asheville Club Moves To Haywood Street, 1901,” Sept. 19, 2017, Xpress). “We’re a craft beer and wine bar featuring only local drafts,” says Reis. With 20 taps and an eclectic wine selection, Reis seeks to create an atmosphere reminiscent of days past. Current draft highlights include Catawba’s Friki Tiki IPA, Archetype’s Coffee Porter, Bhramari’s The Good Fight, Lazy Hiker’s Slack Pack IPA and Boojum’s Greenstone IPA.

The Asheville Club is at 20 Haywood St. The bar opens at noon daily and has an open-ended closing time. 

New projects for White Duck Taco

In June, White Duck Taco plans to close its original River Arts District location in the Hatchery Studios. In its place, owners Ben Mixson and Laura Reuss will open Henrietta’s Poultry Shoppe, with a menu built around fried chicken.

Meanwhile, White Duck (which currently has six additional locations in three states), will remain in the RAD, relocating to a new 3-acre space at 388 Riverside Drive. The venue includes a 3,500-square-foot military Quonset hut that can seat an estimated 60 people. “It gives us the winter seating capacity we need,” says Mixson. “It also gives us more prep space. The original White Duck was never designed to handle the volume it does now.”

The riverfront location will also feature a refurbished bus equipped with beer taps and a fully stocked bar and a box truck that Mixson says will be used to screen films and Carolina Panther games. Future plans might also include outdoor art installations, but Mixson says decisions have yet to be finalized.

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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. For his weekly #tuesdayhistory tidbits on Asheville, follow him on Instagram @tcalder.

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One thought on “Small bites: Kitchen Ready Showcase Dinner spotlights New Orleans fare

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    …hmm…so why would southside residents not be able to go to a downtown restaurant to dine out ? huh ? is that racist or stereotypical or what ?

    remember, in an Asheville government facility all events MUST be DIVERSE and EQUAL.

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