Small bites: Noble Cider chili contest comes back for seconds

BRING THE HEAT: Returning for its second year, Noble Cider's Chili Cookoff invites both home cooks and professional chefs to make a slow cooker full of their best chili recipe to vie for prizes and support Girls on the Run. Pictured is vegetarian chili from Lucky Otter. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Crockpots will line the tables in the Noble Cider taproom Sunday, Feb. 19, as the cidery hosts its second Chili Cookoff. This year’s categories include best traditional, best vegetarian and most creative chili.

Cost to enter the event is $15; admission is $5. Wristbands for contestants and attendees include samples from all competing bowls, along with complimentary cornbread. All proceeds will benefit Girls on the Run, a nonprofit that empowers girls through experience-based activities that integrate running.

“It always means a lot when we have community partners who host fundraising events for us,” says Amy Renigar, executive director of Girls on the Run. She notes that last year’s inaugural fundraiser exceeded expectations. “We weren’t sure how it would go, but my goodness, we ran out of chili.”

Trevor Baker, co-owner of Noble Cider, notes that attendance last year totaled close to 150 people. He anticipates a similar turnout at this year’s event. “It’s amazing how many people are into chili,” he says.

Because of this, Noble Cider is requesting that all participants prepare 1 ½-2 gallons of chili before arriving at the contest. Electrical outlets will be available for keeping the dishes warm, but cooking on-site is prohibited.

In addition to sampling the goods, those who attend (including competitors) will have the opportunity to vote on each category. Winners will walk away with a variety of gift cards to local businesses, as well as a wooden spoon trophy courtesy of Noble Cider.

Last year’s most creative dish was a chipotle chicken chili with lime cream, and a smoky chipotle dish was awarded best vegetarian. When it comes to traditional chili, ground beef is a must as is red sauce, but Baker notes that unlike the Texas standard, Noble Cider permits beans in the recipe.

Beyond raising funds for Girls on the Run, both Renigar and Baker are eager to sample some of this year’s entries. “Sadly, I was not able to partake in very many of the chilis at all last year,” says Baker.

Meanwhile, Renigar went without a single cup. “We were so busy helping work the event, I literally didn’t try any,” she says. “I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen this year.”

Noble Cider’s Chili Cookoff runs 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19, at 356 New Leicester Highway. $15 to enter, $5 to attend. Cash bar for beer and cider. For rules and registration details, visit

Mountain Cooking Club at Folkmoot Friendship Center

Chef Ricardo Fernandez, former owner and operator of Lomo Grill in Waynesville, will host Mountain Cooking Club, his monthly educational and social culinary class, at Folkmoot Friendship Center on Saturday, Feb. 18. According to Fernandez’s website, these monthly gatherings are to “celebrate the foods of the season” while offering helpful tips and techniques to those who attend. The upcoming class will feature Thai mussels with green curry, lemongrass and coconut milk; pan-seared hangar steak au poivre with roasted rosemary potatoes; and bourbon coffeecake with espresso-walnut glaze.

Mountain Cooking Club meets 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, at Folkmoot Friendship Center, 112 Virginia Ave., Waynesville. Tickets are $66. For details and tickets, visit

Weekly happenings at MG Road Bar & Lounge

MG Road Bar & Lounge has scheduled some new weekly, recurring events. Keep it Classic Tuesdays will feature personally curated menus from bartender Sam Thompson, along with five $8 classic cocktails ranging from stirred stiff drinks to classic tiki creations. Tuesdays will also showcase the talents of DJ Jesse McSwain of Static Age Records. Wednesday Salsa Night will offer salsa dancing lessons with DJ El Mexicano Isaac from 7-8 p.m., followed by an open salsa dance session from 8 p.m.-midnight. Bottomless chips and salsa will be served all night. Thursday Movie Night will include free popcorn, while Saturday Late Night Dance Parties will feature DJ Lil Meow Meow.

For more information on the events at MG Road, visit

No Evil Foods expands to Midwest

Sadrah Schadel and Mike Wolians, who founded No Evil Foods in 2014, recently announced that their Asheville-based vegan protein company has signed a contract with Co-op Partners Warehouse, a distribution company based in St. Paul, Minn. The partnership will allow No Evil Food to expand its distribution to seven Midwestern states, increasing its overall reach to 18 states. With ingredients like organic garlic powder, organic fennel seed, vital wheat gluten, chickpea flour and more, the company re-creates the flavor and texture of meat products with plant-based protein.

For more information, visit

Food policy forum

Carolina Public Press will host a free public forum on food deserts and food policy in Western North Carolina on Friday, Feb. 17. Panelists will be Charlie Jackson, founder of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project; Hannah Randall, CEO of MANNA FoodBank; Kiera Bulan, coordinator of the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council; and Laura Sexton, registered dietitian with UNC Asheville. A moderated panel discussion will be followed by an audience Q&A. Space is limited, and RSVPs are required for both in-person and online attendance.

The forum happens 8:30-10:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 17, at Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville, 36 Montford Ave. To reserve a seat, visit

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.

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