Small bites: WNC Battle of the Burger returns

SIMPLE PERFECTION: Reigning Battle of the Burger champion chef Scott Wallace of the Rankin Vault seasons his Hickory Nut Gap beef with salt and pepper only, showcasing the meat's high quality with every bite. Photo by Sarah Whelan

If burgers are your thing, here’s your chance to try a dozen in a day. Asheville Food Fights hosts its second Western North Carolina Battle of the Burger at the Salvage Station on Sunday, Aug. 23, and tickets are on sale now.

“Asheville is such a great town for burgers in general,” says producer Kelly Denson of Lush Life Productions and All American Food Fights. She cites her love of burgers and parties as the inspiration behind creating the event. “We’ve got a good variety of people who care about the quality of their meat, particularly in their restaurants.”

From 2-5 p.m., local culinary “challengers,” as Denson calls them, set up grills and griddles, cooking thousands of sliders for the ravenous crowd. Restaurants must be nominated to serve at this highly selective pop-up food fair.

“We want to make sure we have the best and that the competitors are all worthy,” Denson says, listing the Rankin Vault, Ambrozia Bar + Bistro, King James Public House, Main Street Grill, Oyster House Brewing Co., Universal Joint, D.O.G.S., Scully’s Bar and Grille, Farm To Fender and Foggy Mountain Brew Pub as current participants.

As an official qualifying round of the 2015 World Food Championships, the WNC Battle of the Burger sends one winner on to compete in the World Burger Championship in Kissimmee, Fla., in November.

Sponsors Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Pisgah Brewing Co. will both be pouring ice-cold beer to keep folks cool during this heated competition. Plus, a live set from a to-be-determined local band will accompany the food and beverage offerings.

As for what is new this year, Denson couldn’t be more excited to host the showdown at the Salvage Station during its first summer of operations aside the French Broad River.

“People can actually tube to the event,” Denson says. “We are even selling a package where you can purchase a VIP ticket with a tubing combo [from Zen Tubing down the street] for $45. It includes a shuttle that will take you to a drop-off spot, and you’ll be able to float to the event.” That commute, she says, is about an hour long.

Tickets cost $30 per person for VIP access, including unlimited burgers, complimentary beer, early entrance and a ballot to vote for WNC’s best burger. General admission tickets are free; however, you have to pay several dollars for each mini-burger and cannot cast a vote. Proceeds from the event benefit MANNA FoodBank.

Visit for more information or to purchase tickets.

​Russian Chapel Hills Winery debuts new wine

Russian Chapel Hills Winery invites the public to celebrate Independence Day with the premiere of a new wine, Tosca Heritage, a classical, super-Tuscan blend of merlot and sangiovese grapes with the flavors of sweet plums and cherries and hints of tobacco, oak and spice. Attendees can enjoy traditional wood-fired pizzas prepared on-site by Joe Laudisio, owner of Giardini Trattoria in Columbus (Polk County) and view artwork by Kathryn and Pavel Gulov in an open exhibit. Festivities begin at 1 p.m., with a special service in the winery’s St. Anna Chapel.

Russian Chapel Hills Winery, 2662 Green Creek Drive, Colombus. Visit for details.

The Social’s 4th of July cook-off

The Social will host a free cook-off this 4th of July and invites all food lovers to enter their favorite smoked meat, grilled meat or side dish. Participants can win up to $500 in cash prizes. Musical guest Lyric will play after the downtown fireworks show. Later, attendees can watch a live broadcast of the Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well 50th anniversary reunion concert on a 150-inch screen outside. Cook-off entrants must sign up on the Social’s website before the event, which runs from noon to 2 a.m.

The Social, 1078 Tunnel Road. For more information, check out

The Market Place hosts author Darrin Nordahl

Author Darrin Nordahl will be signing his new book EATING Appalachia: Rediscovering Regional American Flavor on Tuesday, July 7, at The Market Place. Farm-to-table advocate and the Market Place chef William Dissen will offer attendees special food samples inspired by the book, which explores several issues that prevent wild foods from reaching our tables and illustrates how daily food choices impact local ecosystems. The event runs from 5:30-8 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

The Market Place, 20 Wall Street. Visit for more details.


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About Jane Morrell
My name is Jane Morrell and I am a student from Troy University in Alabama. I am working as an intern for the Mountain Xpress over the summer. Follow me on Twitter @JaneMorrell2 Follow me @JaneMorrell2

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