Small bites: Vegan Barbecue Cookoff returns

FRIENDLY COMPETITION: The second consecutive Great North Carolina Vegan Barbecue Cookoff takes place Sunday, June 30. Pictured, from left, are last year's second-place winner Courtney Zurcher, co-organizaer Laura Beck, first-place winner Hayette Bouras, The BLOCK Off Biltmore owner Cam MacQueen and co-organizer Leslie Pardue. Photo courtesy of Beck

Professional and amateur chefs alike will compete in the second consecutive Great North Carolina Vegan Barbecue Cookoff, hosted by the Mountain Vegans Meetup Group, Your Vegan Mentor and The BLOCK Off Biltmore.

“Our primary purpose is to raise awareness about veganism and all the great food options that are out there,” says Leslie Pardue, the event’s co-organizer. “Animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. … We don’t have to wait for the government to act. We can all take individual action by eating a plant-based diet.”

In addition, Pardue notes, proceeds from the event will benefit Animal Haven of Asheville, a nonprofit animal refuge in East Asheville.

Several local restaurants and businesses are sponsoring the event, including Hopey and Co., No Evil Foods, The Hop Ice Cream Cafe, Roots Hummus, Sanctuary Brewing Co., Firestorm Books & Coffee, Rosetta’s Kitchen & The Buchi Bar, French Broad Chocolates, Smiling Hara Tempeh, the Asheville Vegan Society, Animal Haven of Asheville and Plant. Sponsors will provide prizes to the day’s top three winners, and door prizes will also be awarded. All who attend are eligible to win.

The competition is free to enter before Sunday, June 30, and day-of registration costs $5. Competitors must bring a prepared vegan barbecue dish with a serving utensil. No cooking will be permitted on-site.

Tickets to sample and judge each dish are $10 in advance or $15 cash at the door.

No matter your diet, says Pardue, all are welcome to the cookoff. She hopes that for some the gathering will be the impetus to explore a plant-based diet. “A lot of folks gradually transition into veganism,” she explains. “They give up meat first and then later drop dairy and eggs. All approaches are valid.”

The second Great North Carolina Vegan Barbecue Cookoff runs 3:30-5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 30, at The BLOCK Off Biltmore, 39 S. Market St. For tickets, visit

Collaborative dinner at Olivette Farm

Olivette Farm will team with other local growers, restaurants and pastry shop owners for a farm-to-table dinner Thursday, June 27. According to the event’s Facebook page, “The dinner alfresco will highlight some of Asheville’s culinary elite with a five-course meal and farm-crafted cocktails.” Cordial and Craft, Over Easy Café and 50/Fifty: The Art of Dessert will contribute to the menu. Tickets are $80.

The dinner runs 5-9 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at Olivette Farm, Old Macedonia Road, Alexander. For tickets, visit

Cooking with the Dining Diva

Molly Fowler, also known as the Dining Diva, will host a cooking class with a Mediterranean focus on Thursday, June 27. Among the recipes for the workshop are orzo with lemon, pine nuts and feta; Mediterranean baked grouper; and walnut honey cake. All items will be sampled and paired with a glass of wine. Participants will leave with a recipe packet. Seating is limited. Tickets are $50.

The class runs 6-9 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at The Wine Cellar at Wine Sage & Gourmet, 416 N. Main St., Hendersonville. To purchase tickets, visit

The Market Place Restaurant celebrates 40 years

“We are proud to celebrate 40 incredible years here in Asheville,” says William Dissen, chef and owner of The Market Place Restaurant in a recent press release. Dissen describes his venue as the city’s “original farm-to-table restaurant.” To commemorate the milestone, the restaurant will host a five-course dinner at Gaining Ground Farm on Friday, June 28, featuring a menu designed to exemplify the unique connection the restaurant has with the area’s local farms. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, which works to link local farmers to markets and supporters. Tickets are $100.

The celebration begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 28, at Gaining Ground Farm, 298 Sluder Branch Road, Leicester. To purchase tickets, visit

Tupelo Honey hosts pairing brunch

Tupelo Honey’s South Asheville location will host a six-course pairing brunch on Saturday, June 29. Each plate will be paired with Truly Hard Seltzer, a gluten-free hard seltzer, as well as two specialty cocktails. Menu highlights include mini-biscuit and jam, egg in a basket, lemon French toast, and pecan and goat cheese bites. Tickets are $30 per person. The event is for ages 21 and older.

The brunch runs 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at Tupelo Honey, 1829 Hendersonville Road. To purchase tickets, visit

Low country boil

Triskelion Brewing Co. and the Flat Rock Wood Room BBQ Trailer will team up for a low country boil on Sunday, June 30. The event will feature low country shrimp as well as barbecued ribs. Live music will be performed by Shabudikah. Tickets are $25, including entry and a piled plate.

The boil runs 4-9 p.m. Sunday, June 30, at Triskelion Brewing Co., 340 Seventh Ave. E., Hendersonville. To purchase tickets, visit

Chef Kelley Canaday Showcase

The Paper Mill Lounge and Theater will host a three-course, wine-paired dinner showcasing the culinary talents of chef Kelley Canaday on Monday, July 1. The main course is a choice between stuffed beef tenderloin with blueberry-balsamic reduction or a bacon-wrapped, stuffed pork loin with a blueberry glaze served over a bed of smashed, roasted potatoes with French-style green beans. Also on the menu are a California salad and a raspberry-focused dessert. Tickets are $30.

The dinner runs 5-10 p.m. Monday, July 1, at The Paper Mill Lounge & Theatre, 513 Mill St., Sylva. For more information, visit

RendezVous now open

Bouchon’s long-awaited sister restaurant, RendezVous, is now open in East Asheville. The new location offers the same French-inspired menu as Bouchon, but unlike the downtown eatery, RendezVous accepts reservations.

RendezVous is at 184 New Haw Creek Road. Hours are 5-9 p.m. weekdays, 5-9:30 p.m. weekends. For details and to make reservations, call 828-348-0909.


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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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