Sarah Cousler knows Asheville’s food scene. Before becoming sous chef at Buxton Hall Barbecue, she washed dishes at Heiwa Shokudo, worked as a line cook at both The Bull and Beggar and The Admiral, cooked alongside Elliott Moss for MG Road pop-up series Punk Wok and acted as lead chef for another MG Road effort, Girls on Deck.
But her latest endeavor, Dive, which is a series of seafoodcentric pop-up dinners at Buxton Hall Barbecue’s Remington Room, is different. “Until now, it’s always been a collaborative thing,” says Cousler. “Or I was fulfilling somebody else’s vision. This is just all me.”
Dive kicks off on Monday, Aug. 8, featuring a rotating menu of raw and cooked seafood options. “We’ll have items that are under $10, and also more expensive whole-fish selections and elegant dishes like monkfish liver,” Cousler says.
In addition to seafood, Dive will feature synthesizer-heavy, New Wave music and décor that incorporates retro neon lights and Patrick Nagel prints. The inspiration behind the theme stems from two of Cousler’s greatest influences: her mother and father. “I grew up with my dad listening to a lot of New Wave music, so by default I liked it a lot,” she says. Cousler adds that her mother is the reason she is a chef today. “My mom taught herself how to cook, and a lot of it was her playing with seafood, so I feel like while she was teaching herself, she was inadvertently reflecting that on me.”
Cousler has planned the Monday night pop-ups to accommodate a mixed crowd, from folks who want to stop by and have a couple of oysters with their post-work beer to those who plan to see the evening through and sample every item on the menu. It’s also a chance for Cousler to try something new. “I wanted an outlet,” she says. “I wanted an excuse to play with seafood, really nice seafood. Do the whole fish and break down the fish and put every element of it on the menu in some way.”
Dive debuts at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8, at 32 Banks Ave. Additional scheduled dates include Aug. 15 and 22 and Sept. 5. Times will always be 6-11 p.m. (or until the food runs out). Both reservations and walk-ins are welcome. Plate prices range from $15-$50. For details and reservations, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feast to the Beat
Feast to the Beat is a national cross-country road trip celebrating the centennial of the National Park Service. “Our National Parks have been called ‘America’s best idea,’ and we couldn’t agree more,” says Barbara Cocks, president of H.Q., the marketing agency producing the event. Each stop combines food and music, along with special activities from local and national sponsors. The tour will host a day of celebration at the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area on Friday, Aug. 5. The centerpiece of the journey is the solar-powered mobile recording studio, known as the Jam in the Van. Musical acts will include Aaron Woody Wood, The Fritz, The Broadcast, Tellico and Stop Light Observations. Chefs Ally Phillips and Arlene Cotler will participate in the day’s cooking events, and The Hop will serve cold treats.
Feast to the Beat happens 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, at 195 Hemphill Knob Road. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit feast2thebeat.com.
Local Provisions tops Eater’s Best New Restaurants
Local Provisions was recently named to the Eater.com list of 21 Best New Restaurants for 2016. In his write-up on the winners, Bill Addison, Eater’s restaurant editor, notes that Local Provisions chef Justin Burdett has a “special virtuosity for expressing the seasons,” adding that, “Even in Asheville, a breathtaking tourist town chock-o-block with primo restaurants, Burdett’s talents distinguish him from all others.”
The Chef’s Tasting Table at The Junction
The Junction in the River Arts District now offers the Chef’s Tasting Table, a new seasonal five-course tasting menu from chef David Van Tassel. Up to four guests can be seated at the special bar-height wood table to experience the menu and interact with the chef. “I’m excited that patrons will get a chance to see the fun, chaotic symphony that is our studio,” says Van Tassel in a media release. “It’s also a great opportunity to play with different, off-menu ingredients and techniques.”
The Junction is at 348 Depot St. The Chef’s Tasting Table is available 5-10 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday by reservation only. Cost is $55 per person with a maximum of four people. Price does not include tax, beverages or gratuity. For details, visit thejunctionasheville.com.
The Jazzy Vegetarian to visit the Mills River Farmers Market
On Saturday, Aug. 6, cookbook author and TASTE Award winner Laura Theodore — also known as the Jazzy Vegetarian — will visit the Mills River Farmers Market. She will offer presentations throughout the day, sharing ideas on saving time in the kitchen, saving money with vegetable-based meals and adding more vegetables and fruit to weekly meals.
The Mills River Farmers’ Market is at 94 School House Road, Mills River. Theodore will present every hour on the half hour 8:30-11:30 a.m. Details are available at email@example.com.