Small bites: The Great American Jerk Off returns

KING OF THE JERK: Collin Lee will compete again in this year's Great American Jerk Off. At last year's inaugural event, Lee took home the top prize in the amateur category. Along with the accolade, he was awarded the opportunity to sell his jerky at Ole Shakey's Getaway.
KING OF THE JERK: Collin Lee will compete again in this year's Great American Jerk Off. At last year's inaugural event, Lee took home the top prize in the amateur category. Along with the accolade, he was awarded the opportunity to sell his jerky at Ole Shakey's Getaway. Photo by Thomas Calder

For the second year in a row, Ole Shakey’s Getaway’s Great American Jerk Off looks to honor and celebrate an American tradition that dates back centuries. The competition invites both professional and amateur chefs to shave, strip, season and dehydrate their meats as a way to showcase and highlight the wide range of flavors and interpretations available in beef jerky.

A $5 wristband allows attendees to sample the entire selection, while a panel of judges, known as the Circle, will determine the winner for both categories. “It’s a competition, but we’re all just coming together to have a great community event,” says Eliza Eaton, social media and marketing representative for Ole Shakey’s Getaway.

At press time, the professional competitors included Michelle Bailey of Smoky Park Supper Club and Franky Bloom of Sovereign Remedies. Eaton encourages those interested in competing to sign up at Ole Shakey’s website. A total of 10 slots are available in both the professional and amateur groups. Entry is free. Participants are required to bring 4 pounds of beef jerky to offer as samples. Those in the amateur category are also permitted to sell their jerky during the event.

Charlie Hodge, co-owner of Ole Shakey’s Getaway, will act as emcee alongside Sovereign Remedies’ bartender Brian DuBois. Andy Farrell will provide live music.

Last year’s amateur champion, Collin Lee, will return this year to defend his title. His win awarded Lee the chance to sell his beef jerky all year at Ole Shakey’s, and this year’s champion will receive the same opportunity.

Lee, a sous chef at Mojo Kitchen & Lounge, is not shy about wanting to repeat his success. “I’d like to keep selling my jerky at the bar,” he says. His winning product, known as The People’s Jerky, was inspired by a Korean bulgogi recipe. He has since added new seasonings to his repertoire, including flavors such as Smokey Memphis Barbecue and Mom’s Meatloaf.

Jerk Off attendees this year can expect to find samples of The People’s Jerky, as Lee intends to stick with his tried-and-true recipe for the upcoming competition. “I feel like I’ve perfected the tenderness and flavor,” he says. Regardless of the outcome, Lee says his vision for his beef jerky has evolved because of last year’s win. The future goal, he says, is “for every hiker to have [The People’s Jerky] with them.”

“We really love this event because it takes the Asheville spirit of friendly food and beverage competition with Shakey’s unique charm,” says Ole Shakey’s Getaway’s co-owner Morgan Hickory. “Also, who doesn’t like an event that basically forces you to make inappropriate puns all day.”

The Great American Jerk Off begins at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20. The event is for ages 21 and older. Tasting tickets cost $5 at the door. To register as a competitor, visit oleshakeys.com

Biodynamic Wine Tasting

MetroWines will host an informal, all-day educational biodynamic wine tasting to coincide with the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21. Led by Andy Hale, MetroWines’ director of education, participants will learn about the biodynamic process while sampling pours of Montinore pinot gris and pinot noir. “Biodynamic goes beyond organic,” says Hale. “While organic farming preserves the Earth, biodynamic seeks to better the Earth. … Grapes are harvested under the full moon, and some jobs are only performed during the alignment of certain planets and stars.”

The Biodynamic Wine Tasting runs 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, at MetroWines, 169 Charlotte St. The event is free to attend. For details, visit metrowinesasheville.com.

Free canning class

Chef Hanan Shabazz will host a free community canning class on Tuesday, Aug. 22, at Green Opportunities’ Southside Kitchen. The chef will teach participants how to preserve tomatoes or okra that was grown in the Southside Community Garden. RSVP is required.

The class takes place 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, at the Southside Kitchen in the Arthur R. Edington Education and Career Center, 133 Livingston St. Admission is free. RSVP at avl.mx/40b

Sauces to Elevate Your Cooking

Living Web Farms will offer a class led by Patryk Battle and Meredith Leigh that explores homemade sauces, from salsas to chutneys, salad dressings to béchamel. “We will demonstrate some very basic techniques and demystify some more intimidating preparations with the idea of making everything from marinara sauce to hollandaise easy and doable for the home cook,” says Leigh in a press release. Along with tutorials, participants will have the chance to taste a number of the sauces made in class.

Sauces to Elevate Your Cooking will run 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, at The French Broad Food Co-op, 90 Biltmore Ave. Tickets are by donation, with a suggested amount of $10. For details, visit avl.mx/3zx.

Sausage-making class

Hickory Nut Gap Farm’s butcher, Elliot Orwick, will host a sausage-making class on Thursday, Aug. 24. The evening event includes a tutorial on grinding and seasoning handmade sausages, and students will team up to practice these skills.

The class runs 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, at Hickory Nut Gap Farm, 57 Sugar Hollow Road. Tickets are $55. For details and tickets, visit avl.mx/3zy

Raising funds for Pisgah Legal Services

John Fleer of Asheville’s Rhubarb will team up with Tandy Wilson of City House in Nashville, Tenn., for a farm-to-table dinner to benefit Pisgah Legal Services, a nonprofit law firm that has provided free civil legal aid since 1978. Recent funding cuts by the N.C. General Assembly has resulted in a loss of over $500,000 to the organization. According to the press release, the “multicourse dinner will feature local food from Sunburst Trout Farms and Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams and will be paired with seasonal wines and craft beer.” Along with the meal, interested guests can purchase pre-event tickets, which will include a meet-and-greet with the acclaimed chefs, culinary advice and a sample of caviar and Champagne. This is Fleer and Wilson’s first collaborative dinner. In 2016, Wilson was the recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef of the Southeast award.

The farm-to-table dinner begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, at Rhubarb, 7 S. Pack Square. Tickets are $125 per person and are available at avl.mx/401 or by calling 828-210-3405. To learn more about Pisgah Legal Services, visit pisgahlegal.org.

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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. For his weekly #tuesdayhistory tidbits on Asheville, follow him on Instagram @tcalder.

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