What’s new in food: Grush’s Cajun Dino Grill begins its new era

DINO MIGHT: Matt Grush and Amanda Cloyd of Grush's Cajun Dino Grill are set to debut their new food truck. Photo Courtesy Grush's Cajun Dino Grill

Grush’s Cajun Dino Grill, a collaborative culinary concept from chef Matt Grush and artist Amanda Cloyd, has made the leap from a small, roaming pop-up to a dedicated food truck ready to hit the streets.

“The original idea for the Dino Grill was born out of wanting to bring authentic Cajun cuisine to Asheville,” says Grush, who is originally from New Orleans. That idea soon blossomed into a pop-up model after Grush and Cloyd purchased folding tables and portable kitchen equipment, finding temporary homes at bars and breweries without dedicated food options or close to other food trucks.

“Our goal from the start was to bring people awesome food in a fun, silly atmosphere; to deliver top-notch food while not taking ourselves too seriously,” says Grush, whose love of dinosaurs, shared with partner Cloyd, helped inspire the venture’s namesake and decorations. It’s not uncommon to see Cloyd clad in a dinosaur-print dress or to spot several dinosaur toys, flags and Hula-Hoops strewn about as the two dish out Cajun classics like gumbo, muffuletta sandwiches, po’ boys and jambalaya.

While the pop-ups were successful, Grush and Cloyd longed for more. After filling in for a canceled food truck appearance at a local brewery, they doubled down on their shared vision, taking business classes and applying for a loan to purchase a truck of their own. Weeks later, that same food truck went up for sale just as they finished their courses and were approved for the loan.

“It all fell into place, and it felt like the universe telling us to go for it,” says Grush.

Now the dino duo will debut their new food truck at a grand opening event on Saturday, Aug. 19, 1-8 p.m., at Blue Ghost Brewing Co. — the same location where they held their very first pop-up.

“I have so many fun ideas that I want to bring into the food truck world that I have not yet seen,” says Cloyd, who has degrees in both hospitality and art education. “My education and experience in the service industry and teaching have helped me hone my skill for making moments personable and meaningful. My hope is to create a dining atmosphere where the guest comes for the food but comes back to be a part of the adventure.”

Blue Ghost Brewing is at 125 Underwood Road, Fletcher. Visit avl.mx/cvw for updates and additional information.

Let the good times roll

Whenever entrepreneur Marty Brooks travels for business, he makes it a point to seek out the nearest sushi restaurant. One in particular, Blue Ginger Sushi at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, kept him coming back so often that he founded a new restaurant with the man who rolled his sushi there.

At Mudpuppies Sports and Sushi Bar, opening Friday, Aug. 11 in Arden, Brooks partners with Blue Ginger’s chef, James Dubose, to lead the kitchen.

“I was so impressed by the consistent quality of his incredibly flavorful specialty sushi rolls,” says Brooks. “These rolls became James’ trademark and the main reason why I kept returning to his restaurant.”

Mudpuppies combines Brooks’ love of friends, sports and sushi. “Imagine a venue with 60 screens, over 30 taps serving various beverages, signature cocktails and a menu catering to everyone in your group or family,” says Sandra Lee, senior director of sales and marketing.

While Dubose’s sushi is featured, an extensive menu offers modern takes on classic bar bites like fried ramen mac & cheese, tuna tacos and a sushi burger. Weekly music, trivia, outdoor games and live televised sporting events will help fulfill Brooks’ dream of building a new go-to hangout spot.

“We want to create South Asheville’s version of ‘Cheers,’” says Brooks.

Mudpuppies Sports and Sushi Bar is at 5 Andrew Way, Arden. Visit avl.mx/cvu for additional information.

Argentina meets Asheville

Rhubarb’s annual collaborative dinner with Finca Decero Single Vineyard Wines returns Wednesday, Aug. 9, 6-9 p.m.

Rhubarb’s executive chef, John Fleer, began the tradition 13 years ago with Finca Decero’s chief commercial officer, Stephanie Morton-Small.

“These dinners have been happening annually since I was the chef at Canyon Kitchen in Cashiers, and I have been pouring Finca Decero wines at Rhubarb since we opened in 2013,” says Fleer. “Guests will have a phenomenal meal complemented with amazing wines as we illustrate the importance of our deep relationships with our producers that have developed and matured over many years.”

Wine from Argentina’s Andes Mountains will meld with cuisine from Western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains across five courses paired to bring out the best flavors from both worlds.

Rhubarb is at 7 S.W. Pack Square. Visit avl.mx/cvt for tickets ($85 per person).

Drink cider, help cats

Bold Rock Hard Cider teams up with DJ Lyric for a silent disco party benefiting Asheville Cat Weirdos, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit helping cats in WNC, on Friday, Aug. 11, at 8 p.m.

One dollar from every pint sold during the event will go to the Asheville Cat Weirdos Emergency Fund. This fund is completely donation-based, providing financial aid to families unable to afford veterinarian bills for their cats. Last year, the fund helped over 100 cats receive medical assistance, totaling over $133,000.

“The average cost of our fundraising cases ranges between $200 and $800,” says Asheville Cat Weirdos representative Emili McMakin. “If we can raise enough to help 10 cats or more, we would be extremely grateful.”

In addition to pint sales, QR codes will facilitate mobile donations throughout the bar. Asheville Cat Weirdos team members will be available to answer questions, educate and collect cash donations.

Bold Rock Hard Cider is at 39 N. Lexington Ave. Visit avl.mx/prxj for additional information.

Brew your own marzen

Ever wonder what makes German festival beer so crisp and delicious in the fall? Fifth Season Gardening Co. will host a class Saturday, Aug. 12, noon-4 p.m., teaching attendees how to brew their very own marzen-style beer, just in time for Oktoberfest.

Tanner Friszell, Fifth Season’s homebrew specialist, brings over 10 years of experience in the brewing industry to this homebrew showcase. The class will include an overview of the all-grain brewing process, the ingredients that make a marzen and the required equipment. Then, Friszell will lead class members in brewing their own batch of marzen using Fifth Season’s stainless steel brewing systems. Upon completion of the class, attendees will return in two weeks to bottle and take home two cases (48 bottles) of Marzen beer.

“This class represents the mission of Fifth Season: to promote joyful living, healthy ecosystems and connected communities by sharing our passion for better making and growing,” says Clare Schwartz, Asheville store general manager. “Learning something new is good for the brain and good for the soul; doing so in a format where folks can learn from an expert and connect with like-minded new friends is even better.”

Fifth Season Gardening Co. is at 4 S. Tunnel Road #450. Visit avl.mx/cvq for tickets ($115 per person) and additional information.

One shell of a time

Blue Ghost Brewing Co. hosts SouthEast Crab Feast for an all-you-can-eat celebration of Lowcountry cooking on Sunday, Aug. 13, 4-6:30 p.m.

Tickets at $17.25 per person grant access to unlimited blue crabs, a side of fish and chips, and one complimentary Blue Ghost beverage. Crabs from Charleston, S.C. will be freshly caught no more than 48 hours prior to the event, then steamed and seasoned on-site. Guests are welcome to bring their favorite crab condiments to complement the feast.

“It’s a rare treat to have something usually associated with the South Carolina Lowcountry up here in the mountains of Western North Carolina,” says Jamell Hamilton, founder and CEO of SouthEast Crab Feast. “Blue Ghost Brewing made sense as a partner because we both champion community building, family-friendly activities, and great food and drink.”

Blue Ghost Brewing is at 125 Underwood Road, Fletcher. Visit avl.mx/cvr for tickets and additional information.

Friendly food drive competition

Asheville’s Charles George VA Medical Center and the Mountain Home VA Medical Center of Johnson City, Tenn., held their annual Feds Feed Families Food Drive on Aug. 1. These campaigns are made possible by federal agencies and employees nationwide who volunteer to organize food collection in their own communities. The FFF food drive began as a response to the United We Serve Act of 2009, which called on Americans to serve in their communities to contribute to the nation’s economic recovery. Since its launch, the campaign has collected more than 107 million pounds of food donations to support communities nationwide.

The two medical centers entered a bout of friendly competition to see which location could collect the most food by weight. Employees collected voluntary donations to win a traveling trophy dubbed the “Mountain Cup” and, most importantly, to combat hunger in their local communities. Once all donations were weighed and counted Mountain Home VAMC brought home the cup and bragging rights (until next year) in a narrow victory. Just over 2,000 pounds separated the two VAMCs in this year’s Mountain Cup.

In total, the two organizations collected over 55,000 pounds of food that will help to fight food insecurities in Asheville and surrounding Appalachian Mountain regions.

Visit avl.mx/cvs for more information on Feds Feed Families.


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