What’s new in food: Chefs bring on the funk in dance off fundraiser

DANCE KING: Chef Clarence Robinson of Cooking with Comedy shows off the moves he used to compete in Food Connection's Chef Dance Off fundraiser. Photo by Flori Pate

Flori Pate says Food Connection — the fresh food rescue and redistribution nonprofit she co-founded six years ago — celebrates food and community through meals. “We think everyone deserves to have the delicious food Asheville is known for, and we try to make things cheerful for everyone,” Pate explains.  No one embodies that spirit, she says, more than chef partner Clarence Robinson of Cooking with Comedy. “He literally dances his food out to us when we pick up.”

When she heard the director of Verner Early Learning Center — one of FC’s meal recipients — joke about challenging Robinson to a dance-off, she found inspiration for a fundraiser for her organization as well as a way to call attention to Asheville Food Waste Awareness Month (#AVLFoodWasteChallenge).

Food Connection invited eight of its chef/kitchen partners to compete in the Chef Dance Off by submitting a video set to Asheville musician Ryan RnB Barber’s “AVL Funk”; all responded with an enthusiastic yes.

Through April 24, fans can vote for their favorite chef or team with a $10 donation that will go directly to the nonprofit. “We just did our numbers, and in six years, we have distributed over 300,000 meals, which equates to roughly 150 metric tons of fresh food kept out of the Buncombe County landfill,” says Pate. “We’re excited for everyone to see the moves from our partners on these videos.”

The Chef Dance Off compilation video can be found, and donations can be made, by visiting FC’s website at avl.mx/97q or on its Facebook page at avl.mx/97r. The winner will be announced on Stop Food Waste Day, Wednesday, April 28.

Flour power

Working in customer service in Charleston, home baker Heidi Bass gifted her office mates one Christmas with chocolate babka. The yeast cake was such a hit that she began taking orders to sell them. When she moved to Asheville in mid-2018, Bass worked for a couple of bakeries around town, learning the skills of the trade. Now employed at White Labs helping brewery clients choose their yeast strains, her deep dive into fermentation science inspired her to begin baking focaccia last fall for Metro Wines’ weekly Focaccia Friday promotion. “It is 100% naturally leavened, all sourdough and so versatile,” Bass says.

Operating as Mother: Sourdough-Inspired Provisions, Bass also recently launched Montford Community Bread pop-ups, staged every other Sunday at 10 a.m. at 69 Elizabeth St. The menu, posted on her MOTHERavl Instagram account, includes focaccia, bread, babka, baguettes, sourdough English muffins and challah. Sales are on-site for now, but she intends to set up a preordering system this month.

Find MOTHERavl at avl.mx/97u.

Scone it in

Amanda Plyler, a self-described “baking school dropout,” has nonetheless recently graduated from selling her Dogwood Cottage Baking pastries, cookies, muffins, pies and scones at the weekly Weaverville Tailgate Market to opening a brick-and-mortar of the same name in Woodfin’s Town and Country Square. “I looked for two years and finally found an affordable space in a good location,” she says.

The bakery’s commercial kitchen has allowed her to grow her menu of baked goods and hire three employees. This month, she also expanded her days and hours of operation. Dogwood, now open Tuesday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., sells drip Counter Culture Coffee and hot tea along with her baked goods. Though her personal passion is bread — she pulls a different variety from the oven every day — she says Dogwood’s scones are its siren song. “People know my scones from the tailgate markets and come looking for them.”

Dogwood Cottage Baking, 175 Weaverville Highway, Woodfin,  avl.mx/979

Hot stuff

For more than a year, health care workers have been bringing the heat to the battle against COVID-19, and Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack wants to return the fire at both Asheville locations (as well as its third store in Greenville). Health care workers that flash their work ID get a 10% discount throughout April.

Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack, 1344 Patton Ave. and 3749 Sweeten Creek Road  


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About Kay West
Kay West began her writing career in NYC, then was a freelance journalist in Nashville for more than 30 years, including contributing writer for the Nashville Scene, Nashville correspondent for People magazine, author of five books and mother of two happily launched grown-up kids. In 2019 she moved to Asheville and continued writing (minus Red Carpet coverage) with a focus on food, farming and hospitality. She is a die-hard NY Yankees fan.

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