Smiling Hara Hempeh hits doorsteps across the nation

BURGER BLISS: Food blogger Richa Hingle featured Smiling Hara's product in her buffalo black bean burger recipe. Owners Sarah Yancey and Chad Oliphant hope to share more recipe ideas by launching tempeh and hempeh cooking classes later this spring. Photo by Richa Hingle

Hempeh, the latest hemp-based delectable from Asheville company Smiling Hara Tempeh, is finally hitting the streets — or at least doorsteps — after a successful crowdfunding campaign in late 2014. The soy-free tempeh, fortified with hemp seeds and beans, is being shipped to funding backers across the nation this month.

Owners Sarah Yancey and Chad Oliphant say they hope to distribute Hempeh to the general public through grocery retailers after they complete additional product development and solidify long-term suppliers later this year.

“We have farmers in Kentucky, including our friends at Growing Warriors, growing hemp for us this year,” says Oliphant. “We are currently producing our pilot batches of Hempeh with hemp imported from Canada. It won’t be until we have a supply of US-grown hemp seed — late summer hopefully — that we will move into full production.”

“Our goal is to perform some test marketing with limited supply available for sale at local tailgate markets in Asheville this spring,” he says. Local vegan eatery Plant will also feature the item on their menu soon.

Until then, Smiling Hara’s regular product line will continue to be stocked at a multitude of health food stores, the latest of which — Whole Foods Markets — just added the company’s traditional soy-based product to in-store hot bars across the Southeast for a limited time promotion.

“We are hoping this leads to increased utilization of our product within Whole Foods hot bars and delis,” says Oliphant.

More buzz for Smiling Hara’s tempeh comes in the form of a buffalo black bean ranch burger, which was created by food blogger Richa Hingle (Vegan Richa) after she received a sample pack of soy and soy-free tempehs from Yancey and Oliphant at the onset of their Kickstarter campaign.

“Tempeh is here to stay!” Hingle wrote, hailing the soy-free option. Her feature on the product is published here.

The Smiling Hara Tempeh crew, ever proponents of community interaction, are also in the early stages of planning tempeh and Hempeh cooking classes, which Yancey and Oliphant may host locally this spring.

“The purpose is to educate folks in ways of preparation of tempeh,” says Oliphant. “Perhaps for some, it will be their first introduction to the product. These events also serve as ways to further connect with our community, particularly those who share our passions for tempeh, local food, and new and inventive products.” Oliphant is currently reaching out to the community for ideas on where to hold the classes.

For more information on Smiling Hara Tempeh products and happenings, visit


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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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