Small bites: REACH seeks to end homelessness with launch party at Funkatorium

A SALES PITCH TO END HOMELESSNESS: Real estate agent Ryan McCullough seeks to end homelessness in Buncombe County with his foundation, REACH. The organization is in partnership with Homeward Bound of WNC and will celebrate its launch party at Wicked Weed Brewing's Funkatorium on Friday, Jan. 26. Photo by Thomas Calder

A year ago, Asheville real estate agent Ryan McCullough was stumped by a question raised by an out-of-town client: What was the reason for the city’s large homeless population? “I didn’t really have an answer for him,” McCullough acknowledges.

The question, however, stuck with him, and after “some soul searching,” McCullough says he decided to do something about it. “My job is to find homes for people,” he explains. “So why could I not contribute to finding homes for the homeless?”

On Friday, Jan. 26, McCullough, in partnership with Homeward Bound of WNC, will celebrate the launch of the Real Estate Agents Combating Homelessness fund. REACH, he explains, seeks to end homelessness in Asheville one sale at a time. “If we got every agent to donate a penny of every dollar of commission earned at each closing, we’d raise three-quarters of a million dollars every year,” he explains.

The celebration will take place at Wicked Weed Brewing’s Funkatorium. The brewery will provide guests with complimentary charcuterie and cheese platters featuring salami and pancetta from The American Pig, Snow Camp goat cheese from the Goat Lady Dairy, bread from OWL Bakery, sour-fermented pickled vegetables, olive tapenade, crostini and Wicked Weed’s house-made Medora blackberry-raspberry sour ale jam, hummus and shortbread with honey yogurt dip.

Along with food, the gathering will include a live auction and a musical performance by Supatight. Wicked Weed will also release BaNONOs Foster, a bananas Foster-inspired hefeweizen aged on cinnamon, vanilla and rum spirals, sans bananas.  Meanwhile, Urban Orchard will release its own specialty beverage, a semidry hard apple cider aged on American and French toasted oak from H&H Distillery. Proceeds from the sales of both beverages will benefit REACH.

Currently, the foundation has a small core of agents committed to the cause, but McCullough hopes the launch party will attract a larger pool of participants. “It’s a way for us to become part of the community and contribute to and counteract the negative effects of gentrification, as well as the lack of affordable housing in Asheville,” says McCullough. “This is our community, and everyone in it deserves to have a home.”

The REACH launch party and fundraiser runs 6-9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, at Wicked Weed Brewing’s Funkatorium, 147 Coxe Ave. Admission is free. For more information, visit

17th annual Fletcher Chili Cook-Off

The town of Fletcher will host its 17th annual Chili Cook-Off on Saturday, Jan. 27. All types of chili will be featured at the event, including traditional, white and vegetarian varieties. Awards will be given for best overall chili, best individual chili, best business chili, best table décor and people’s choice. The event is free to attend. Donations will be accepted at the event for the Fletcher Park Development Fund, which helps improve Fletcher’s parks.

The 17th annual Chili Cook-Off runs 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, at Veritas Christian Academy, 17 Cane Creek Road, Fletcher. For more information, visit

Food Sovereignty & Agriculture in Cuba

The Organic Growers School will host an information session at Lenoir Rhyne University on Sunday, Jan. 28, focusing on food sovereignty and agriculture in Cuba. Eric Holt-Gimenez, food justice author and First Food executive director, will lead the discussion via Skype. According to its website, Food First “is a ‘people’s think tank’ dedicated to ending the injustices that cause hunger and helping communities to take back their food systems.” After the presentation, participants will have the option to stay to watch the 45-minute film, The Power of Community.

Food Sovereignty & Agriculture in Cuba runs 12:30-2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, in the boardroom at Lenoir Rhyne University, 36 Montford Ave. Admission is free. To RSVP, visit

Eat Your Art Out!

Blue Spiral 1 will host its first art pairing charity dinner with a five-course meal prepared by chef Jacob Whitman of Native Kitchen and Social Pub. Each plate will be inspired by a work of art from the gallery’s latest exhibit, Into the Blue. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will go to the Asheville Area Arts Council.

Eat Your Art Out! happens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 29, at Blue Spiral 1, 38 Biltmore Ave. Tickets are $100 per person. For details, visit

Soups to Warm Your Winter

Laura Beck, founder of Your Vegan Mentor, will host a soup-focused cooking demonstration at Firestorm Books & Coffee on Tuesday, Jan. 30. Beck will discuss a range of soup varieties, including those that can be made with blenders, in a slow-cooker or Instant Pot or simmered on the stove. Samples will be provided, and participants will go home with a collection of recipes. A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit Firestorm Books & Coffee.

Soups to Warm Your Winter runs 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30 at Firestorm Books & Coffee, 610 Haywood Road. Tickets are $15 and are available at

Feed the Resistance

Author Julia Turshen will join Nightbell chef Katie Button on Wednesday, Jan. 31, for a communal, multicourse dinner with dishes from her latest cookbook, Feed the Resistance. Menu highlights include JUSTUS collard greens, The People’s Grits and Adobo sa Gata. Feed the Resistance was named the Best Cookbook of 2017 by All proceeds from sales of Feed the Resistance go to American Civil Liberties Union.

Feed the Resistance runs 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31, at Nightbell, 32 S. Lexington Ave. Tickets are $80 per person or $145 per couple and include a signed copy of the cookbook. For tickets, visit

Elizabeth Button named chair of AIR directors

Heirloom Hospitality Group’s Elizabeth Button has been named chair of the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association board of directors, replacing outgoing chair Kevin Westmoreland of Corner Kitchen and Chestnut. Westmoreland will remain on the board. The organization, made up of over 120 locally owned, independent restaurants, is dedicated to maintaining a diverse, authentic food scene in Asheville. In 2011, Button, along with her daughter Katie Button and son-in-law Félix Meana, opened Cúrate.


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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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