What’s new in food: Chefs take action for Food Connection

CULINARY CONNECTION: Ten chefs will partner with Food Connection for a fundraising event highlighting gourmet dishes made from rescued food. Photo courtesy Food Connection

Food Connection, a local 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to fighting regional food insecurity and food waste, celebrates the return of its signature fundraising event, Chefs in Action, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 6-9 p.m. at Wicked Weed Brewing’s Funkatorium.

First held in 2018, Chefs in Action began as a celebration of food resourcefulness wherein local chef partners would prepare a variety of small plates using surplus food that typically goes to waste from commercial kitchens around town. With the third annual Chefs in Action fully geared up and ready to go in March 2020, the pandemic emerged and precipitated a quick pivot.

“After selling out the event, we had to cancel the gathering, but we were actually able to take prepared meals in insulated Food Connection bags right to the doorsteps of our ticket holders,” says Flori Pate, co-founder of the organization. “This showed that we truly are experts at moving food, but it was a lot of work and not necessarily the most sustainable method for fundraising. I’m excited to see the familiar faces of supporters we’ve not seen in a long time and those who have recently learned about Food Connection’s work.”

Ten chef partners, representing local restaurants and venues such as Pack’s Tavern, Tastee Diner, Omni Grove Park Inn and UNC Asheville, will have stations set up throughout the venue offering unique dishes composed of food rescued by Food Connection. “This is delicious food that was once ending up going to waste, which will now go directly to working families, seniors, kids at after-school programs, veterans and more thanks to Food Connection,” says Pate.

While the full menu remains a secret, plates such as blackberry barbecue brisket, elote mac and cheese, and fresh bao buns offer a glimpse of the diverse selections awaiting attendees. “We promise our guests will be stuffed by the time they leave,” adds Pate.

In addition to the food, there will be beer and wine from Wicked Weed Brewing, live music, guest speakers, a raffle and a silent auction with unique items such as original paintings, spa packages, local gift cards and more.

“In our 8 1/2 years as an organization, we’ve never seen such an urgency for meals in and around Buncombe County, so this fundraiser for Food Connection has never been more important as we continue to meet the need,” says Pate.

The Funkatorium is at 147 Coxe Ave. Visit avl.mx/cyc to purchase tickets starting at $100 per person and for additional information.

Chow Chow returns

Chow Chow, the annual food and culture festival showcasing Asheville’s creative culinary community, returns Thursday, Sept. 7, with an opening barbecue party held at Salvage Station.

The festival will run for four days and feature a cavalcade of gastronomical programming, from marquee dinners and tasting events to in-depth seminars and hands-on cooking classes.

“Chow Chow was built to foster community, support a healthier and more resilient regional food system and industry, and convey a rich sense of place,” says Chow Chow Executive Director Melissa Scheiderer.

To that end, the festival is offering a variety of pay-what-you-can ticketed and open-to-the-public options to ensure everyone has a seat at the table.

“We’ve taken steps to create a more equitable economic festival model by creating many access points for attendees at any budget and increasing our budget for compensation to the incredible presenters that make the programming so engaging, interesting and fun,” says Scheiderer.

Visit avl.mx/cyl for the event schedule, tickets, volunteer sign-ups and additional information.

Fair fare

For the first time ever, Got to Be NC, an initiative promoting North Carolina agricultural products and goods, will be at the Mountain State Fair, taking place Friday, Sept. 8-Sunday, Sept. 17, at the WNC Agricultural Center.

“We have a similar pavilion at the N.C. State Fair, but this marks the first year that the pavilion will be part of the Mountain State Fair,” says Andrea E. Ashby, director of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Public Affairs Division. “This is an exciting addition, as it allows these North Carolina food companies to showcase their products, and it also gives fair visitors an opportunity to sample products made right here in North Carolina.”

Over 20 Got to Be NC member companies will display their products at the Got to Be NC Pavilion in the Davis Event Center during the fair. At a chef stage within the pavilion, several of the culinary creators will perform live cooking demonstrations that educate as well as satiate hungry fairgoers.

A variety of foods and products running the gamut of sweet, savory, spicy and sumptuous will be offered at the pavilion to complement traditional fair foods such as hamburgers, hot dogs, funnel cakes and fried Oreos.

The WNC Agricultural Center is at 1301 Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher. Visit avl.mx/cxz for a full list of Got to Be NC vendors and additional information.

Funding vital care

The Asheville chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America will hold a fundraiser benefiting the Carolina Abortion Fund at The Odd on Sunday, Sept. 10, beginning at 7 p.m.

Food specials from The Odd’s in-house kitchen, as well as a number of drink specials created specifically for the event, will be available. A trio of musical guests — Lavender Blue (solo), Sweet Fiend and Places — will provide the soundtrack for the fundraiser beginning at 8 p.m.

Attendees will be asked for a suggested donation of $10 per person at the door or to become a Carolina Abortion Fund sustainer for $5 per month. All proceeds will support the Carolina Abortion Fund sustainer campaign. Representatives will be on-site to spread awareness and education.

“We want folks to come away feeling like they are part of something bigger than themselves,” says Asheville DSA Socialist Feminist Working Group member Aislinn Sterling. “We want to come together in community and cultivate joy, kindness, strength, resilience and hope. Becoming a sustainer for Carolina Abortion Fund means fighting back and taking care of each other.”

The Odd is at 1045 Haywood Road. Visit avl.mx/cyd for additional information and avl.mx/cyb to learn more about the CAF Sustainer Program.

Birds and bagels

Asheville’s area chapter of the Audubon Society, Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter, will host an early morning birding and breakfast event at Ridge Junction Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway on Sunday, Sept. 10, at 8 a.m.

“Ridge Junction Overlook is one of the best spots in the Blue Ridge to experience the fall migration of warblers and other passerines,” says Tom Tribble, at-large director and past president of the Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter. “Hundreds of birds can pass through the gap in the mountains here over the course of a morning, and numbers tallied have included over 25 species of warblers along with vireos, tanagers, grosbeaks and other species.”

The Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter will provide bagels and coffee. This event is open to anyone, and there is no fee or registration required to participate. Attendees are encouraged to bring binoculars, chairs and warm clothes.

Ridge Junction Overlook is at Milepost 355.3 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Visit avl.mx/prxl for additional information.

Morsel migrates

Morsel Cookie Co. has moved its retail space from 45 Rankin Ave. downtown to 175 Weaverville Highway, Suite D, in Woodfin.

“We are moving,” the company announced on social media. “This news may seem sudden, but we have been mulling this over for a while and believe this is the best decision for Morsel and our customers in the long run.”

This move unites the cookie company‘s retail and kitchen operations. While the Woodfin location will facilitate counter service purchases and add on-site parking, it’s also where Morsel Cookie Co. was founded and where each cookie is concocted.

To celebrate the migration, Morsel has revamped its original peanut butter cup cookie to feature a peanut butter cookie base, chocolate chips, chocolate glaze and a salted peanut butter cup placed on top.

“Thank you for your continued support in our tiny operation of not-so-tiny cookies,” says the company in the same social media announcement.

Visit avl.mx/89s for additional information.

City Bakery’s downtown departure

After nearly two decades in business, City Bakery’s 60 Biltmore Ave. downtown location has ceased operation.

“While we love the location and building that we have been fortunate enough to serve our neighbors and visitors in for almost 20 years, it is more space than we require for our current needs,” says the business in an announcement made on social media. “It doesn’t make sense for us to continue to rent and maintain it as we make plans for our future.”

The operations at City Bakery’s original cafe location at 88 Charlotte St., as well as the production bakery in Fletcher, will continue uninterrupted. “For now, we plan on focusing on operating those spaces to their fullest potential, but who knows, maybe one day we will return to a different space downtown,” says the bakery in the same announcement.

For more information, visit avl.mx/cym.


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