Small bites: Knuckle Deep BBQ Fest returns

BIG WINNERS: Drew Shelfer, right, and Chicken Cabra teammate Will Summer hoist their trophies from last year's multiple wins. The team will fire up the pit again for this year's competition. Photo courtesy of Shelfer

Meat and plenty of it will be prepared, sampled and judged at the ninth annual Knuckle Deep BBQ Fest to be held this year at Wedge Foundation. The brewery’s general manager, Shelton Steele, describes the event as a celebration of backyard cooking and “a fun way to sample a lot of different food.”

Along with grilled goods, puns will abound. There are 17 teams competing, with names such as Sweet Child O’ Swine, Seitan Is My Motor, Deez Butts and Pig Dragon. Last year’s multiple winner, Chicken Cabra, will return to defend its titles. Team member Drew Shelfer says he’s excited about the new location at Wedge Foundation. The chilly autumn temperature, he adds, also “makes it nice to have a hot pit fired up.”

First-, second- and third-place rankings will be determined for best chicken, ribs, pork, brisket and freestyle. Additional single-winner categories will offer awards for the People’s Choice, Best Midnight Snack and the Grand Champion.

Judges include Jeff Miller of Luella’s Bar-B-Que, Joe Scully of Corner Kitchen and Chestnut, Matt Helms of The Chop Shop Butchery, Hunter Berry of Taco Billy, Jamie Ager of Hickory Nut Gap Farm, Dave MacFarland of Wild Wing Café and Dave Rice of Moe’s Original Bar B Que. For Ager, winning plates will offer “the correct amount of tenderness on the meat,” he says. “And some good sauce.”

Meanwhile, Miller, who holds the official title of table captain, returns for his sixth year of assessing entries. “Knuckle Deep always brings out the best group of people in pursuit of making really tasty food and having a damn good time,” he says. “Plus, it’s nice to sit down and geek out on other people’s barbecue for an afternoon.”

Knuckle Deep BBQ Fest runs noon-3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19. The event is donation-based, with $5 the suggested donation for a plate; $20 for a plate and t-shirt (while supplies last). For more information, visit

Curragh Chase Pop-Up

Curragh Chase, a pop-up restaurant created by chefs Matt Brown and Brittany Kroeyr, is teaming with Trade and Lore Coffee to host a dinner Thursday, Nov. 16. According to the event’s Facebook page, the two chefs will offer an “updated approach to traditional pub food in order to create a dining experience that is as comforting as it is creative.”

Curragh Chase Pop-Up: A New American Pub runs 8-10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, at Trade and Lore Coffee, 37 Wall St. Tickets are $65 and are available at

Mills River Holiday Market

The Mills River Farmers’ Market and Mills River Elementary School will partner for this year’s Mills River Holiday Market. The indoor event will offer traditional market fare, including winter vegetables, eggs, mushrooms and bread. Sweet treats, including fudge and peanut brittle, will also be available. In addition to food, the holiday gathering will feature handmade jewelry, make-up, personal care items and clothing.

The Mills River Holiday Market runs 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at Mills River Elementary School, 94 Schoolhouse Road. For details, visit

Fermentation: Tools, techniques and benefits

Lars Peterson of Fermenti, a Marshall-based business that specializes in fermented foods, beverages and seasonings, will host a workshop on Sunday, Nov. 19, at Villagers. According to the event’s Facebook page, the class will cover “basic tools, techniques and general recipes for fermenting fruits and vegetables at home.” Samples will be available during the session, and participants will take home a quart of kraut, a brine chart and recipes.

Fermentation: Tools, Techniques and Benefits runs 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19. at Villagers, 278 Haywood Road. Tickets are $35 and are available at

Queen Anne’s Revenge at Knife & Fork

Nate Allen, owner and chef of Spruce Pine’s Knife & Fork, considers the restaurant’s latest pop-up series, Queen Anne’s Revenge, a sneak preview of possible future plans. On Wednesdays throughout November, Allen is offering an assortment of small-plate seafood dishes prepared over an open wood fire. “I’m going to do some extemporaneous, experimental cooking to develop ideas that one day may be my next restaurant,” he says. “Outside of the world of oysters, we’ll probably be sticking to all North Carolina offerings.” Inland Seafood is the food supplier. The events are casual, no-reservation, fast-paced dining experiences. Cocktails will be available.

Queen Anne’s Revenge happens Wednesdays through Nov. 29, 5-9 p.m., at Knife & Fork, 61 Locust St., Spruce Pine. For more information, visit

Vintage Kava Lounge moves to Weaverville

Vintage Kava Lounge has relocated from its West Asheville space to Weaverville. The move comes three months after the shop opened on Haywood Road. Its new Reems Creek Road location is on 6.5 acres and includes a 500-square-foot patio. In a press release, the new space is described as “a cozy homelike sanctuary.” It comes equipped with a meditation and yoga room, small thrift shop, mountain views, a lookout tower, bonfire pits, a gardening area, a picnic table, a ping-pong table, outdoor hammocks and a tire swing. Along with kava, the shop offers yerba mate, kratom and CBD products made from hemp.

Vintage Kava is at 141 Reems Creek Road, Weaverville. Hours are 11 a.m.-11 p.m., seven days a week. For more information, visit



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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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10 thoughts on “Small bites: Knuckle Deep BBQ Fest returns

  1. The Smoke Co.

    Chicken Cabra is overrated and I think we will see who the real BBQ’rs are on Sunday. With the inclement weather conditions forecasted for this weekend I expect Drew will be on his heels from first smoke ring.

      • Thunderpig all star

        I’m just hoping that this is finally the year Chicken Cabra can win pork butt instead of just coasting on the short meats.

        • Chickencabra

          To Thunderpig All Star……Ingles has a special on Laura Lynn BBQ sauce…..I know that is what your team uses…so lame

    • Thunderpig

      Smoke Co. – y’alls a bunch of Silver Gorillas hoping for a golden banana.

      • The Smoke Co.

        Yo thunder pig you stick to smoking bananas and stop by TSC tent anytime for some Butt.

  2. The Smoke Co.

    Yo, deez butts I️ hope you picked up some hardware for ‘17 , otherwise the only thing you’ll be smoking on Sunday is Deez nutz “

  3. c-dog

    Dudes been trying to keep Drew away from their meat for four decades now, y’all gettin hoodwinked by the Chicken Cabra name thing, ya heard Cher. If he can’t fry it, he don’t eat it. Don’t let him touch your meat!

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