Small bites: Oskar Blues Big Money Chili-onaire cook-off promotes ‘do-goodery’

CAN DO: Oskar Blues Brewery’s CAN’d Aid Foundation has offered $1.2 million in grants to quirky organizations since its inception two years ago. The underlying mission is to promote towns, active lifestyles, arts and the environment. Image courtesy of CAN’d Aid Foundation

At Oskar Blues Brewery, giving back — or “do-goodery,” as the company calls it — involves lots and lots of chili. At least it will during the inaugural Big Money Chili-onaire cook-off. The event is a fundraiser for the brewery’s CAN’d Aid Foundation, which is “all about diggin’ in and makin’ a difference where we can,” says its program director, Sarah Leavitt.

“We’ve received quite a few entries that are suggesting their chili will be made with beer as a key ingredient,” Leavitt says, noting that the most successful chef of the day will be named during a crowning ceremony and will receive Oskar Blues swag and endless bragging rights. “Every attendee will receive a voting ballot, so this will be a king crowned by the people, for the people,” she says.

Festivities will also include a silent auction, games, cold Oskar Blues brews and live music throughout the night, according to Leavitt, who explains that funds raised will help with flood relief in South Carolina.

“On the day following the chili cook-off, a group of Oskar Blues Brewery staff and CAN’d Aid supporters are loading up a bus and heading to the hardest-hit areas of South Carolina for a weekend of mucking and gutting damaged houses,” she says. “This is in addition to canning more than 3,800 cases of water for flood victims and a $20,000 grant to All Hands Volunteers to support their rebuilding efforts.”

In the two years since its inception, the foundation has offered $1.2 million in grants to “funky, fun and innovative organizations” across the country, according to Leavitt. “Much of our efforts include working to get kids outside and active, promoting music, arts and culture, increasing recycling through our Crush it Crusade program, helping communities rebuild after floods and more,” she adds.

The nonprofit organization has also been active locally, holding a summer camp for kids at its Hendersonville ranch and bike course, where more than 20 bright-eyed participants got a tires-to-the-track lesson in mountain biking from a professional. Music and craft workshops were also offered.

This week, CAN’d Aid is partnering with members of Steep Canyon Rangers to offer a youth bluegrass clinic and instrument-raiser on Wednesday, Nov. 18. The foundation will donate 20 new acoustic guitars to enhance Artspace Charter School’s art curriculum.

The Big Money Chili-onaire is 6-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, at Oskar Blues Brewery, 342 Mountain Industrial Drive, Brevard. All-you-can-eat tickets cost $15 per person and are available at Competitors’ registration is free. Visit for more information on the CAN’d Aid Foundation.

Asheville Middle School’s fifth annual made-from-scratch pie fundraiser

For three days each November, Asheville Middle School students cut, peel, slice, roast, roll, mix and bake their way through about 70 made-from-scratch apple and pumpkin pies. The desserts are made from donated ingredients and sold for a $15 donation to support FEAST’s in-school programming, which promotes lifelong healthy eating choices by offering kids hands-on cooking and gardening lessons.

Pies can be picked up between noon and 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24, in room A115 at Asheville Middle School, 197 S. French Broad Ave. Visit for more information or to complete an order form.

MetroWines hosts the women of Hi-Wire Brewing

“If you’ve ever wondered how Hi-Wire’s vintage circus theme comes to life, come by and meet the women behind the story,” invites a newsletter from beer and wine shop MetroWines. The upcoming event is part of resident beer specialist Anita Riley’s Drink Like a Girl series, which periodically examines females’ various roles in the local beer industry. Illustrator Charlotte Oden and Hi-Wire marketing director Abby Dickinson will join Riley in discussing Hi-Wires’s branding over free samples.

The Hi-Wire tasting and talk is 5-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, at MetroWines, 169 Charlotte St. Visit for more information.

Hempeh makes its debut

“After months of perfecting recipes, identifying local ingredients to utilize, tweaking labels and packaging and performing market research, Hempeh is finally here,” reads a newsletter from Smiling Hara Tempeh. The company’s hemp-fortified, soy-free peanut tempeh is now available at select health food stores, including Whole Foods and the French Broad Food Co-op. The latter is offering Hempeh at a price of two packages for $8 until Wednesday, Dec. 2.

Visit for more information including a full list of retailers.

Lex 18’s Old & New Time Dinner Experience

“Cozy, warm and charming, this pre-Thanksgiving dinner show blends old and new cuisine, [live] music and stories, celebrating Appalachia’s region and history,” reads a release from Lex 18 about its upcoming Old & New Time Dinner. The candlelit evening begins with a moonshine flight cocktail reception before the locally sourced, four-course meal, including clam and corn chowder; pickled shrimp with peppers, onions and herbs; rack of elk with sour cherry demiglace, polenta cake and kalettes; and layered red velvet cake and cheesecake. Vegetarian options are available.

The Old & New Time Dinner will have seatings at 5:45 and 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25, at Lex 18, 18 N. Lexington Ave. Tickets, available at, are $75 per person before tax and gratuity.


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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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