A flotilla of food trucks will converge on the Masonic Temple downtown on Saturday, April 2, for the third annual Asheville Food Truck Showdown. This year promises the largest contest yet, with 15 food trucks revving up for the event, which serves as a kickoff to Asheville’s food truck season.
A wide range of cuisines will be brought to the table this year, including Peruvian fusion from Out of the Blue and Southern gourmet from Appalachian Chic, both trucks that are new to the competition. Asheville food truck fans will also find perennial favorites such as Gypsy Queen Cuisine, Farm to Fender and Taste & See. And Root Down, two-time winner of the Best Food Truck award, will return to defend its title.
In previous years, Root Down owner and chef Dano Holcombe has wowed the judges with rabbit étouffée and his version of lamb ribs. Holcombe says he believes this year’s event will be better than ever. “There are a few new trucks on the scene, and people and fans should be treated to and enjoy some fantastic food,” he says. “Our food truck community has some of the most talented chefs and business owners in town ready to show off what they have. I’m excited for what is considered the curtain-raiser for our food truck season.”
Trucks will compete for two awards — Best Food Truck and the People’s Choice. Attendees will have the option to buy tickets for $1 each or 10 for $5 to vote for their favorite competitor for the People’s Choice. The overall Best Food Truck will be chosen by a panel of judges, including Katie Button, owner and executive chef of Curate and Nightbell, Larry Blunt from WLOS and local food critic Stu Helm. Both the judges and the people will submit their votes by 4 p.m., with the announcement of the winners made around 5:30 p.m.
Although general admission is free, and guests can wander the grounds purchasing food from the trucks of their choice, a new component to this year’s showdown offers VIP seating inside the Masonic Temple that will include a tasting of food from each participating truck. Food will be brought to the tables by servers to encourage guests to relax and enjoy the experience. VIP seatings are available at 1:30, 3:30 and 5 p.m., with or without beverages.
Food truck fare may be in the spotlight, but it won’t be the only attraction at the event. Members of the Asheville Brewers Alliance will supply craft beer, and downtown cocktail bar Sovereign Remedies will add an extra touch of festiveness to the occasion with stations offering wine and crafted seasonal mixed drinks. Owner Charlie Hodge says choices will include a signature house-made restorative spring tonic made with gentian and gin, a root daiquiri made with rum, sassafras, burdock, dandelion and lime and a fresh garden rickey of vodka, carbonated honey tea and tulsi, which “fits the sunny spring.”
Hodge will also have a slushy machine on hand churning out a frozen version of one of the bar’s most popular offerings, the No. 27 — an amped-up take on a whiskey ginger made with Jack Daniels, house-made ginger syrup, cardamaro, lemon and angostura bitters. Many of the herbal ingredients for the drinks have been sourced from Sovereign Remedies’ partner Urban Patchwork Farms.
Children’s activities and craft booths will round out the fun as well as a new addition to the lineup — live entertainment. Entertainers from the annual The Temple Has Talent fundraiser will offer live music and magic shows 1:30-5:30 p.m. in the historic Temple Theatre. Tickets for the theater are included with VIP seating or are otherwise $5 per seat.
All proceeds from the Asheville Food Truck Showdown will benefit the Asheville Humane Society, Masonic Home for Children, Whitestone Retirement Community and Friends of the Asheville Masonic Temple.