UPDATE: Make way for Hempeh

Hempeh is the world's first soy-free, non-GMO, organic tempeh fortified with hemp seeds. Photo from Smiling Hara's Kickstarter page

“Our Hempeh Kickstarter was successfully funded, and we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts,” reads a December newsletter from Smiling Hara Tempeh. Some 278 backers raised $25,035 for the local tempeh company, surpassing the original $20,000 target.

Backer rewards ship in January, and the Hempeh product is scheduled to line grocery store shelves later in 2015.

In order to “thank each and every soul out there who donated and spread the word,” co-owners Sarah Yancey and Chad Oliphant added a special “thank-you” page to their website, complete with the name of each individual contributor.

Here is the story that Xpress published on Oct. 11, highlighting the crowdfunding effort:

Smiling Hara debuts hemp tempeh in Asheville

With its burger challenges, bacon festivals and general meat idolatry, Asheville certainly caters to the carnivorous eater. But who is looking out for the hungry others?

Smiling Hara Tempeh — a Blue Ridge Food Ventures company that distributes tempeh to a host of Asheville restaurants as well as grocers throughout North Carolina and beyond — is planning several projects that may pique the interest of Asheville’s vegetarians, vegans and vegi-curious.


The Smiling Hara team recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to coincide with the release of the company’s latest product — a soy-free, non-GMO, organic tempeh fortified with hemp seeds and available in yellow split pea or black bean varieties.

Hemp seeds contain easily digestible, gluten free protein and, in Smiling Hara’s case, are sourced from Growing Warriors, a Kentucky-based veteran aid nonprofit that will receive a portion of proceeds from the sale of Hempeh once it is commercially available.

Smiling Hara’s initial goal of raising $20,000 by Nov. 6, will allow the company to produce and locally distribute the first batches of Hempeh, while goals for the longer stretch would fund expansion into wider regions and several food certifications. The campaign has already raised a quarter of sought funds and was recently recognized as a staff pick on the Kickstarter website.


Asheville locals will be the first to taste chef-inspired Hempeh meals thanks to the organizers of the Hempeh Hop. The month-long debut employs the help of some of Asheville’s favorite chefs in showcasing the culinary versatility of Hempeh.

Each restaurant has a limited number of days to incorporate Hempeh into a unique dish before the product becomes widely available. Hempeh’s tour of Asheville eateries stops at Rosetta’s Kitchen Oct. 9-13, Mojo Kitchen and Lounge Oct. 14-19, Overeasy Cafe Oct. 20-26 and Plant Oct. 27-Nov. 6.


Mark your calendar for 2-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26, if you’re a fan of competitive food events. Smiling Hara will, once again, host Asheville’s Tempeh Challenge at the Boathouse in the River Arts District, and this year’s culinary theme is barbecue.

“We’ll have an array of local food trucks and chefs dishing out creative and original barbecue tempeh,” says Smiling Hara’s Facebook page. “There will be music. There will be fun.”

A $12 ticket ($15 at the door) includes 10 barbecue tempeh samples prepared by local chefs, two drink tickets (beer or Buchi kombucha) and one voter ballot for the chef showdown. Kids are welcome, as are picnic blankets and chairs. Smiling Hara will donate 25 percent of event proceeds to Growing Warriors.

For more information on all Smiling Hara happenings, visit smilingharatempeh.com.


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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5 thoughts on “UPDATE: Make way for Hempeh

    • Kat McReynolds

      Jane — We are surrounded by creative food entrepreneurs! I can’t wait to try it.

    • Kat McReynolds

      Hi Margaret — Hempeh will only be available commercially if the company’s Kickstarter successfully funds the product launch. Right now, the campaign has raised just over half of the $20,000 goal. If you’re an Asheville resident, you can try Hempeh at Plant vegan restaurant until Nov. 6 though.

  1. Margaret Pelley

    I can’t wait to be able to order some hempeh. We need to avoid soy and I do miss having tempeh. Let me know when it is available ,so I can place an order.

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