What’s new in food: Cultura continues Cultivated Community Dinner Series

CULTURE CLUB: Cultura chef Eric Morris, left, is hosting chefs and food activists like Luis Martinez, right, at the monthly Cultivated Community Dinner Series. Photo by Julie Lindholm

Contemplating the mostly unused space that was and eventually will again be home to Cultura restaurant on Coxe Avenue, chef Eric Morris envisioned monthly collaborative pop-ups with local chefs, particularly those cooking from personal cultural traditions. “I wanted to get more perspective on what other people are cooking, give chefs without their own brick-and-mortar some recognition and support causes they are committed to,” he explains.

The Cultivated Community Dinner Series launched in September with a five-course OaxaCalifornia menu by former El Gallo chef and Oaxaca native Luis Martinez. A portion of the proceeds benefited Vecinos, a clinic that provides health care to farmworkers in Western North Carolina. Each subsequent dinner will also donate funds to the given chef’s nonprofit of choice.

“That dinner was one of the most meaningful evenings I’ve seen in a long time,” says Rachel Dudasik, community engagement and communications manager at Wicked Weed Brewing. “Luis talked about agriculture and foods of Oaxaca, his story of coming to America as an immigrant and what it was like being a farmworker.”

More recently, Jonathan Pridgen, head of charcuterie at Cúrate, prepared an eight-course feast showcasing the craft of whole hog butchery. The October event benefited the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, a local nonprofit that helps area farms thrive.

Chefs Silver Cousler and J Chong — attendees at Martinez’s dinner — are up next, Thursday, Nov. 18, and Thursday, Dec. 9, respectively. Tickets are expected to remain at $100 per person and include a welcome cocktail, beverage pairings with each course, taxes and gratuities. Both events begin at 6 p.m. and will be limited to 50 guests.

Reservations for the Nov. 18 dinner are currently open and will remain so until the event sells out; subsequent dinner reservations typically open the day after the previous event. To RSVP, email culturareservation@gmail.com.

Cultura at Funkatorium is at 147 Coxe Ave. For more information, visit avl.mx/ap2.


The pandemic may have delayed the 2020 opening of Provisions Modern Day Mercantile on Haywood Road, but owners Heather and Matt Wright have since been quick to expand, opening their second location in Biltmore Village in October.

The new and smaller shop is focused on specialty foods and beverages, including items by Asheville Charcuterie Co. and Darë Vegan Cheese. Meanwhile, guests can also make their own trail mix, enjoy Abita-based root beer floats served in frosted mugs or imbibe local craft beer and wine on tap.

Heather notes that customers who purchase a Pirani tumbler get a free fill-up of craft beer or wine on tap. “Pirani is around the corner from us, and they came by to introduce themselves while we were working on the store,” Heather explains. “The drinkware is all reusable with the mission to cut down on plastic throwaways.”

Provisions Modern Day Mercantile is at 14 Lodge St. and 728 Haywood Road. To learn more, visit avl.mx/ap4.

Cheers to that

On the subject of craft beverages, after four years of planning, the N.C Craft Beverage Museum is making its debut in Asheville. “The mission of the museum is to tell the story of North Carolina through the lens of craft beverages and artifacts,” says founder and Executive Director Kimberly Floyd.  “We have been a museum in planning since 2017 with a board of directors in Asheville, an advisory board across the state and permanent exhibits opening now.”

Partnering with local beverage providers to install displays within their spaces, the inaugural three exhibits will be in Asheville. The first, Pour Me Another: A Taste of North Carolina Told Through Drink, looks at North Carolina-made wines and is now on display in Plēb Urban Winery’s new downtown tasting room, The Aventine, 25 Page Ave., suite 102.

The two additional exhibits on spirits and craft beer are scheduled to take place at Cultivated Cocktails’ new space next door to The Aventine and Wedge Brewing Co’s latest location inside the Grove Arcade. Dates have yet to be determined.

For the latest on the upcoming exhibits, visit the N.C. Craft Beverage Museum website at avl.mx/ap6.

Rolling out with soul

Chef Clarence Robinson allows that people really love the Soul Bowl he serves from the window of his Soul on the Road food truck, which he launched in September. But he won’t call it the most popular item on his menu. “Ain’t no such thing!” he says firmly. “If you just have one popular item on your menu you ain’t cooking right. Everything is good. I have a fan base.”

Robinson built that base through his exuberant personality, cooking classes and Cooking with Comedy catering. He is counting on those fans to follow him to the music rehearsal studio SoundSpace@Rabbit’s, the former Rabbit’s Motel that was a landmark in Asheville’s historic African American Southside district. Eventually, Robinson will lease space there for a soul food café. For now, he is setting the stage by parking Soul on the Road in the building’s lot at 109 McDowell St., Tuesday-Thursday, noon-6 p.m. He can also be found at the Ferguson Center on the A-B Tech campus every Monday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

In addition to the Soul Bowl, his menu includes grilled shrimp, grilled or blackened salmon and grilled or fried tofu. “I don’t eat meat myself,” he says. “I really want to introduce my people to a different way of eating, in my own style.”

For Soul on the Road’s locations and menu, visit avl.mx/ap1.

Mark the date

Avenue M chef Andrew McLeod‘s monthly Sunday Supper series fires back up again on Sunday, Nov. 7, 6:30 p.m., with a visit from chef Mark Rosenstein. The local food and downtown Asheville pioneer who opened The Market Place restaurant more than 40 years ago will re-create a 1974 dinner menu from his first place, The Frog & Owl Cafe in Highlands. Fifty guests will savor six courses paired with six wines — including two grand cru — chosen by sommelier Ralph Lonow and importer Steve Pignatiello. Reservations are $130 per person should be made by calling the restaurant at 828-350-8181.

Avenue M is at 791 Merrimon Ave. 

In a pickle

The 2021 WNC Fermenting Festival will take place Sunday, Nov. 7, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., at the Madison County Fairgrounds, 258 Carolina Lane. Food and beverage displays, demonstrations and a raffle are on the agenda. Admission is $5, and proceeds benefit the Madison County food pantry Beacon of Hope.

For tickets and more information, visit avl.mx/ap8.

Board meeting

Just in time for the entertaining season, Asheville Charcuterie Co. is presenting a Fall Charcuterie Workshop on Thursday, Nov. 11, 6:30 p.m., at 12 Bones Smokehouse in Arden. Have a beer while learning how to make salami roses (who knew there was such a thing?) and cut and display all the components of the perfect board. The event permits up to two people per board; $65 per board.

12 Bones South is at 2350 Hendersonville Road. For more information and tickets, visit avl.mx/ap7.

Gobble up        

MANNA FoodBank’s annual turkey drive is underway, and the need is greater than ever, according to Art Graff, food sourcing director for MANNA. In a press release, Graff says, “The retail price of turkeys has increased over 20% in one year alone, making it even more out of reach for working families who are already struggling to afford the groceries they need on a day-to-day basis.”

People can donate and bring a frozen turkey, ham or other holiday entree to MANNA’s Volunteer Center, 627 Swannanoa River Road, Asheville, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m.

For more information on the Turkey Drive, visit avl.mx/ank.


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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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