What’s new in food: Asheville chefs fired up for live-fire culinary fest

LIGHT MY FIRE: Among the 20-plus local chefs participating in the first Cochon555 Heritage Fire culinary festival to be held in Asheville are, from left, Chop Shop’s Graham House, Smoky Park Supper Club’s Michelle Bailey, Tastee Diner’s Steve Goff and Rhubarb’s Glenn Osterberg. Photos, from left, by Mark Thalman, Jennifer Cole, Jessica Crawford and Nicole Osterberg

More than 20 Asheville chefs are fired up to participate in the first local production of Cochon555’s national Heritage Fire tour. On Sunday, July 17, the tantalizing scent of wood-fired smoke will waft from Franny’s Farm in Leicester, where the celebration of live-fire cooking will take place.

Heritage Fire is an annual traveling culinary festival celebrating heritage breed livestock and heirloom produce by inviting local chefs to cook over a live fire at an outdoor site. The 2022 tour began in Atlanta and will burn its way across the country before ending in Charleston on Dec. 4. Each city’s event benefits a local nonprofit. The Utopian Seed Project has been selected for Asheville’s July 17 gathering.

Rhubarb chef de cuisine Glenn Osterberg says he is looking forward to the event. This will be his first Asheville food festival since arriving in the city over a year and a half ago. Between Rhubarb’s live-fire grill and wood-burning oven, he notes, “Most of our menu hits the fire in some way.”

Organizers asked participating chefs to list three items they would like to use for their dish to ensure the tasting plates offer plenty of variety; each cooking station will prepare 750 4-ounce portions for the crowd of grazers.

John Fleer, Rhubarb’s chef and owner, “has a great relationship with Gaining Ground Farm, so we decided to go with vegetables,” Osterberg notes.

The dish, Osterberg continues, will be a vegan perloo — a Southern interpretation of paella — using tomatoes, peppers and okra. “We’ll do some of the prep in Rhubarb’s kitchen but will cook it in big paella pans over fire at the event,” he explains.

Festival production staff is building the fire cook stations on-site for the chefs, ranging from pits and grills to planchas and smokers. Along with grub, there will be plenty of wine, cocktails and craft beer to imbibe during the gathering.

Another Cochon555 Asheville participant, Michelle Bailey, co-owner and chef of Smoky Park Supper Club, is also well versed in live-fire cooking. “We have that big old smoker outside, and in the kitchen, we have the wood-burning grill and wood-fired brick oven,” Bailey says.

She has missed the unbridled creativity of culinary festivals, in short supply since COVID-19. “Cooking for events is probably one of my favorite things to do,” Bailey says. “You can get really creative and come up with something really awesome, that you then have to execute on a large scale and blow everybody’s mind. In restaurants, it’s more about consistency.”

For Cochon555, Bailey intends to do a deconstructed gumbo. “I make an andouille sausage that is really tasty and will hang links on hooks over fire, grill some shrimp and top those with pickled tomato and trinity salad and crispy grilled okra with dark roux and smoked Duke’s sauce.” She adds she will bring some dry-rubbed tofu for vegetarians.

Along with channeling the creative energy that festivals bring, both Osterberg and Bailey say they value the opportunity to visit with fellow chefs.

“I haven’t stepped out of the kitchen much since I’ve been here, so I’m looking forward to meeting other chefs in town and trying their food,” says Osterberg.

“Chefs don’t get to hang out together a lot,” Bailey adds. “It’s cool to see what your peers and colleagues are up to. We’ve all been really grinding the last couple years, so we all need some chef therapy time,” she says with a laugh. “It’s also a lot of fun to interact with guests and see and hear their immediate reaction to your food.”

Cochon555’s Heritage Fire event takes place Sunday, July 17, at Franny’s Farm, 22 Franny’s Farm Road, Leicester. General admission is $99 and includes unlimited food and drink with access to the festival at 4:45 p.m. VIP tickets are $150 and include 4 p.m. entry, as well as unlimited food and drink. For tickets and more information, visit avl.mx/bqo.

Growth spurt

For nearly two years, Southside Community Farm has been tending the small apple orchard originally planted by Asheville GreenWorks on Livingston Street, across from the Arthur R. Edington Education & Career Center.

With the awarding of a $25,000 grant from Lowe’s Hometowns community impact program, farm manager Chloe Moore says workers will improve the 0.15-acre plot where it is located. “Our vision is to have a place the community can enjoy more, by adding some picnic tables to sit under the shade of the apple trees, a walkway, diverse native plants and a multilayer food forest, including medicinal herbs and berry bushes,” she says. “We also want to add more diverse fruit trees like persimmon and pawpaw — all things that are valuable to humans, birds and pollinators.”

The apples now on the trees in the Southside Community Orchard, marked by a small sign, will be harvested and distributed similarly to the produce grown on the farm and pressed into cider in the community kitchen located inside the Arthur R. Edington Education & Career Center.

Southside Community Orchard is at 214 Livingston St. For more information, visit avl.mx/bqq.

Soupy sales

Soup for breakfast? Ilona Kossoff, CEO and founder of 18 Chestnuts plant-based soups, highly recommends it. The businesswoman moved to Asheville by way of Tampa, Fla., a year ago but says she has been in a pursuit of clean nutrition most of her life. When she decided to trade accounting and real estate for more creative expression, “I realized the kitchen is my art studio and vegetables are my subject to play with,” she explains. “18 Chestnuts is a passion project for me.”

She began developing her recipes on a larger scale last November in the Blue Ridge Food Ventures commercial kitchen, donating quarts of those test batches to 12 Baskets Cafe, a local nonprofit. Once she selected her core seven soups and finalized branding and packaging, she began selling 18 Chestnuts any Saturday she could land a slot at the North Asheville Tailgate Market. Success there led to the launch of an e-commerce site in May.

The soups are all plant-based, gluten- and dairy-free with ingredients sourced from local producers when possible. Among the seven flavors are butternut squash pear, carrot ginger dill and chestnut maple, the one she recommends for breakfast with the addition of toasted granola, nuts or dried fruit. Three new soups — including a cold mint pea — will be added this month.  Shoppers can add an online donation to 12 Baskets.

For more information on 18 Chestnuts, visit avl.mx/bqr.

Community center

Cultura is hosting another mashup of chefs who were spotlighted in previous Cultivated Community dinners. The Reunion Vol. 2, hosted by Cultura chef and Cultivated Community dinner series founder Eric Morris, will bring together chefs Ashleigh Shanti, Graham House and Atlanta’s Maricela Vega and Luis Martinez on Thursday, July 21, at the Funkatorium event space, 147 Coxe Ave. The six-course meal with beverage pairings will commence at 6 p.m. The nonprofit partner chosen by Morris for this dinner is Asheville’s YWCA.

Tickets are $100 per person. To reserve, email culturareservation@gmail.com and for more information, visit avl.mx/ap2 .

Brewing up brunch

As the hospitality industry continues its recovery from COVID-related slowdowns, brunch is popping back up all over, including at Archetype Brewing’s West Asheville taproom. In partnership with chef Steve Goff — who will soon be revealing his new vision for old favorite Tastee Diner — the Archetype brunch and beer pop-up takes place every Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sundays, 1-6 p.m.

Archetype Brewing is at 265 Haywood Road. For more information, visit avl.mx/bqt.

Fresh hell

Consider the enduring wiener: New York City sidewalk carts; concession stands in ballparks coast to coast; on rollers at highway convenience stops; and de rigueur on backyard grills. Even more, they are the tubular foundation of that peculiar all-American sporting event, the eating contest.

On Wednesday, July 20, DSSOLVR supersizes Four Feet to Hell, its Satanic twist on the tried-and-true tradition that made its debut last year. This year, 30 contestants will have 6 minutes and 66 seconds to consume four Chop Shop foot-long hotdogs (with buns) and one pint of beer. Contestant slots are $40 per entry, with a portion of entry fees benefiting MANNA FoodBank. Spectating is free, with gourmet and vegan hot dogs for sale by Hot Dog Tuesday.

DSSOLVR is at 63 N. Lexington Ave. The event runs 6-10 p.m., with the contest beginning at 7 p.m. For more information, visit avl.mx/bqs.

Connect the hops

July is Connect Buncombe’s annual Brewing for Greenways fundraiser, taking place at eight different Buncombe County breweries to raise awareness of and funds for current and future county greenways. Since it was conceived in 2015, the event has raised over $28,000 to support greenway projects.  Representatives of Connect Buncombe will be on hand to share ways to support, volunteer, donate and provide information on the upcoming 2022 open space bond referendum on November’s general election ballot.

For more information, dates and participating breweries visit avl.mx/bqu.


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About Kay West
Kay West was a freelance journalist in Nashville for more than 30 years, contributing writer for the Nashville Scene, StyleBlueprint Nashville, Nashville correspondent for People magazine, author of five books and mother of two happily launched grown-up kids. To kick off 2019 she put Tennessee in her rear view mirror, drove into the mountains of WNC, settled in West Asheville and appreciates that writing offers the opportunity to explore and learn her new home. She looks forward to hiking trails, biking greenways, canoeing rivers, sampling local beer and cheering the Asheville Tourists.

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