What’s new in food: Jamaican food truck hits the streets

MÉLANGE À TROIS: The Jamaican Threesome, a combination of oxtail, jerk chicken and lemon butter lobster, is chef and owner Ken Bahford's favorite dish to make. Photo courtesy of Shaa'bingo

Ken Bahford‘s slogan is painted on the side of his food truck: “Mama raised no punk.”

The former Biltmore sous chef, who officially launched Shaa’bingo Jamaican Street Food last month, says he is strongly influenced by his mother, as well as his island country of Jamaica.

“I give respect to the first ‘classroom’ I learned from, which was my mother’s kitchen,” says Bahford. “Jamaica is filled with street food vendors with a variety of food that is available from the busy streets to roadside food stalls selling beef patties to coco bread. I knew that my dreams to have a food truck gave me the direction to bring the streets of Jamaica to the streets of America with savory and unforgettable street food dishes.”

Bahford says he decided to start a food truck instead of a brick-and-mortar restaurant due to the many downsides that a restaurant owner faces, such as finding an ideal location and securing a large business loan.

Logistics and economics aside, Bahford says he also likes the mobility aspect of operating a food truck. “I enjoy traveling, meeting new people and giving tourists a memorable time, too.”

But above all, Bahford wanted to bring something new to the area. “With my experience to create healthy dishes, I knew that I would bring fine dining Jamaican style to a mobile food truck.”

The food truck’s menu includes traditional Jamaican and Caribbean dishes such as oxtail, fried plantains and rice. For those who have never tried Jamaican food, Bahford suggests starting with the jerk chicken. The chef has also created several Jamaican sodas and beverages.

Despite some challenges in launching his business, Bahford is encouraged by all the local support he has already experienced.

“I reflect on the struggles that Bob Marley had with his own people, and I have experienced the same type of treatment at times,” he says. “I am in competition with myself and wish to see more Jamaicans support the fact that we can all win and be successful. I believe in myself and I want everyone to go after their dreams, too.”

For more information, visit avl.mx/cky.

On the rails

A new taproom and restaurant that boasts one of the longest bars in Buncombe County will hold its grand opening party on Saturday, April 15, noon-10 p.m.

The RailYard, which features a 70-foot bar, will celebrate its launch with live music on its outdoor stage from local American roots band Lazybirds. Fire pits will also be blazing as participants indulge in craft beverages and bites, including SmashBalls — the restaurant’s own burger concept.

The main building, which is close to 7,000 square feet, features a full kitchen; meanwhile, the 1,200-square-foot outdoor community space was planned with pop-up events such as farmers markets and yoga classes in mind. The space can also be rented out for private and corporate events.

The RailYard’s founder, John Richardson, is also the creator of PubCorps, a local nonprofit. The organization’s mission is to strengthen the community through volunteer meetups, such as monthly large-scale food packing events. The nonprofit will be headquartered inside The RailYard.

“We see this space as an incubator — for community, for the nonprofit PubCorps, for local musicians and bands, and for local vendors, artisans and food trucks,” says Richardson in a press release. “We want to build in service opportunities, community activities, diversity and live music from the very beginning.”

The RailYard is at 141 Richardson Blvd., Black Mountain. For more information, visit avl.mx/ckz.

New brewery tour service opens

There’s a new craft brewery tour in town.

City Brew Tours, which offers educational craft brewery experiences in cities around the United States, started holding tours in Asheville last month. The tours blend local history, beer knowledge and beer and food pairings in participating breweries such as One World Brewing, Archetype Brewing and Eurisko Beer Co.

“There are so many reasons why Asheville made sense for the next City Brew Tours destination,” says City Brew Tours founder Chad Brodsky in a press release. “Asheville is home to nationally recognized breweries. … Combine that with the world-class food Asheville offers and the proximity to amazing hiking, biking, paddling and other outdoor activities, and it checks all the boxes. Not sure why we didn’t come here sooner!”

The all-inclusive itineraries start at $75 for a Sip of Asheville, featuring private tastings, round-trip transportation and a local beer guide.

For more information, visit avl.mx/cl0.

Forager Fridays

Beginning April 14, the Museum of Cherokee Indian will hold virtual Forager Fridays as part of its Spring Lecture Series.

The overall theme is “Gathering,” and classes will feature plant harvesting traditions.

“This season’s lecture series has a focus on foraging and the preparation of foraged foods, as well as the environmental impact and sustainability of foraging correctly,” says Jennifer Wilson, Aniyvwiyahi community program coordinator, in a press release. “The gathering of food and gathering together to share and take in this knowledge is important for our Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians community, but also for the surrounding communities to maintain the longevity of some of these endangered plants.”

The first Forager Friday will focus on ramps, a type of wild garlic that grows in certain areas of the Appalachian mountains. Subsequent classes will feature sochan, wild strawberries and branch lettuce.

In addition to the Friday programs, a virtual cooking demonstration on how to make blackberry and grape dumplings, a centuries-old dish for several Southeastern tribes, will take place Monday, May 8.

The series, made possible with the support of the N.C. Arts Council, will also highlight traditional crafts, including beadwork, corn bead harvesting and use, and ribbon skirt making. All videos will be available for viewing on the museum’s YouTube channel.

For more information, visit avl.mx/afa.


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About Andy Hall
Andy Hall graduated from The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. After working at the United States Capitol for ten years, she has returned to her native state to enjoy the mountains — and finally become a writer.

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