What’s new in food: Live-fire event showcases Utopian Seed Project’s work

FIRED UP: Laughing Seed executive chef Tiffany Schultz will join fellow Asheville chefs Suzy Phillips, Michelle Bailey and AJ Gregson in preparing dishes for the Utopian Seed Project's upcoming Trial to Table Live Fire event. The menu will showcase Ultracross winter squash grown in the nonprofit's 2023 crop trials. Photo courtesy of Schultz

People may arrive at Utopian Seed Project’s Trial to Table Live Fire event on Saturday, April 27, unfamiliar with pudgy pies, but thanks to Tiffany Schultz’s dessert course, they may develop the same love for the treat the head chef at Laughing Seed has had since childhood.

“People here don’t know them, so it must be a Midwest thing,” she says with a laugh. “I grew up eating pudgy pies every time I went camping.”

Because the Trial to Table events require participating chefs to use produce items provided by Utopian Seed Project — in this case, Ultracross winter squash, harvested from field trials last fall and stored — this pudgy pie will be next level, a challenge Schultz loves.

In its rudimentary form, a pudgy pie is two slices of sandwich bread placed in opposite sides of a cast-iron press, filled with what’s on hand, closed and cooked over the campfire, just as Schultz will do. She will use the squash plus roasted okra seeds and turmeric to bake her pan de mie, which she translates to “bright yellow, squishy squash bread.” The filling will be local goat cheese sweetened with a syrup made with Japanese knotweed and plum blossoms from her own plum trees, plus chyawanprash, an Indian ayurvedic jam made with local foraged berries, honey and ghee.

“It will be tart, spicy, florally, a little bit of everything in one pudgy pie — basically, a fancy grilled cheese sandwich,” she explains. Schultz’s second dish will be smoked s’more squash brownies with marshmallow fluff made from ube (purple yams). “I have eaten my weight in bread, goat cheese, brownies and purple fluff in the testing process,” she says.

The other three chefs at the event — Michelle Bailey, AJ Gregson (Black Bear BBQ) and Suzy Phillips (Gypsy Queen Cuisine) — will each prepare two savory dishes using the squash.

Trial to Table Live Fire takes place 12:30-3 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at Hickory Nut Gap Farm, 57 Sugar Hollow Road, Fairview. Suggested ticket price is $50 per person, with the option to pay what you can. For more information, visit avl.mx/dlj.

Waste not

Three local chefs will be throwing down instead of throwing away on Sunday, April 28, at Food Waste Solutions’ popular Taste It, Don’t Waste It! Chef’s Challenge. The third annual awareness builder and fundraiser for the volunteer-based Western North Carolina food waste reduction group will take place 2-5 p.m. at Devil’s Foot Beverage Co.’s taproom, The Mule.

Chefs Don Paleno (DJ’s Pickles), Bobby Nagelberg (Bridge & Tunnel Coffee Co.) and Corey Ballentine (Goldfinch Cocktails & Kitchen) will each prepare one dish using unwanted, “ugly” produce to compete for the coveted trophy. “Vendors at the WNC Farmers Market will pack essentially mystery boxes of surplus produce,” says FWS event coordinator Matthew Vilevac. “The chefs will also use things from their own pantry for their dish, and attendees will vote for their favorite using a token.”

The Mule will offer free tasting flights of Devil’s Foot craft sodas and will create a special mocktail for the event using surplus produce that will be for sale, along with other beverages.

There is no cost to attend, but suggested donations of $10-$20 support FWS’s work and are gratefully accepted.

The Mule is at 131 Sweeten Creek Road. Register at avl.mx/dlk.

Gone fishin’

On Sunday, April 28, at Old North Farm in Shelby, farmer Jamie Swofford and pie baker Keia Mastrianni will host the third annual Fish Pickin’, where a fish camp and pig pickin’ meet and eat. Asheville chefs J Chong, Silver Iocovozzi and Camille Cogswell will be preparing the spread, along with Charlotte’s Awo Amenumey, Atlanta’s Maricela VegaVicki Basnight from Lone Cedar Café in Nags Head and Anna Shellem, founder and owner of Shell’em Seafood Co. in Wrightsville Beach.

Tickets are $125 per person and include two drinks (choices from Free Range Brewing and Old North Shrub), seafood appetizers, hush puppies, farm salad, multiple preparations of fresh fish and dessert. Seatings are at 2 and 4 p.m.

Old North Farm is at 3458 Crowder Ridge Road, Shelby. To reserve a seat, visit avl.mx/dlm.

Top 10

On Sunday, April 28, the Crow & Quill will look back fondly upon 10 years of booze (it boasts over 1,000 spirits and 500 whiskeys), cozy corners, dim lights, decadence, burlesque, blind dates, breakups, freaks, geeks, live music and that time West of Roan brought its puppetry to the beloved downtown speakeasy.

The celebration will take place 7-11 p.m. and will include free food, drink specials, music by DJ Dr. Filth and more. Admission is on a sliding scale of $5-$10.

Crow & Quill is at 106 N. Lexington Ave. For more information, visit avl.mx/dlh.

Walk this way

Take a stroll 2-4 p.m. Sunday, April 28, with ethnobiologist Marc Williams through the community garden at the Tempie Avery Montford Community Center (named for formerly enslaved midwife and nurse Tempie Avery, who after the Civil War was bequeathed the property where the community center now stands.)

In partnership with the Bountiful Cities Community Garden Network, Williams will lead participants on an edible plant walk, identifying and sampling both cultivated and wild edible plants in the garden.

The garden is at 34 Pearson Drive. The event is free to attend, but advance registration is encouraged, and donations are accepted at avl.mx/dld.

Flight plan

Expect no delays, equipment failures, crying babies or air rage on the Beer Flight Drag Queen Bar Crawl presented by the nonprofit Bearded Lady Productions, whose entertainment events raise money for local organizations that promote the acceptance and equity of all people. The fundraiser, for ages 21 and older, took off on April 19 and will zip around town two Fridays a month through the summer.

The two-hour walking tours are led by a drag queen flight attendant and include flights of craft brews, wines, seltzers and sours at downtown breweries. Tickets for the next flight on May 3 and subsequent zany trips are $65-$75 and include all beverages, entertainment and photo ops. Groups receive a discount.

To book your flight or see details on other queenly events, visit avl.mx/dlf.

Mama mia

You can thank us later for the reminder that, in three Sundays, it will be Mother’s Day. So get thee to a card store, flower shop, brunch reservation link or French Broad Chocolates, which has created a collection of bonbons called Mountain Mamas in collaboration with six female founders of Asheville food and beverage businesses.

The momtrepreneurs and their bonbon babies are Katie Button (Cúrate), sangria roja; Neomi Negron (Buggy Pops), coconut cinnamon; Molly Irani (Chai Pani), mango lassi; Ginger Frank (Poppy Popcorn), butter almond toffee; Sara Stender Delaney (Sarilla), hibiscus green tea; and FBC co-founder and co-owner Jael Skeffington, with chocolate chip cookie.

The signature French Broad-blue boxes contain 12 or 24 bonbons and can be ordered to be shipped the weeks of April 29 or May 6.

For details and to order, visit avl.mx/dlg.

The Jerk(s)

No joke — on April 1, Waynesville Soda Jerks rolled out its new ginger soda and cocktail mixer, available — like all its products — in bottles and kegs. Founded in 2013 by Megan Brown and Chris Allen, the company is committed to local farmers, using their produce and products to craft flavors like blueberry basil, apple rosemary and strawberry rhubarb.

The new ginger soda is a mix of locally grown ginger and peppers, cane sugar and lime zest with no artificial colorings, ingredients or preservatives. The ginger is sourced from Rayburn Farm in Barnardsville; Smoking J’s Fiery Foods in Candler provides the cayenne and habanero peppers.

For details, visit avl.mx/dli.

Orange you thirsty?

Devil’s Foot Beverage Co. has released a quartet of craft sodas in partnership with four Asheville music venues. The Soundwave Series launched in March with the Orange Peel Sparkling Orange, small-batch-brewed with navel and blood oranges and organic limes, lightly sweetened with organic cane sugar and South Carolina honey. Rabbit Rabbit Sparkling Cran-Lime is brewed with fresh cranberries and organic limes; Salvage Station Sparkling Mango is made with fresh mangos and organic lemons; and the Don’t Call Me Shirley Cherry Ginger Beer, a partnership with The Grey Eagle, uses organic ginger root and fresh-pressed sour cherries.

All four sodas are available at the venues, as well as at Devil’s Foot taproom, The Mule.

The Mule is at 131 Sweeten Creek Road, Suite 10. Find Devil’s Foot products at avl.mx/ajm.


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About Kay West
Kay West was a freelance journalist in Nashville for more than 30 years, contributing writer for the Nashville Scene, StyleBlueprint Nashville, Nashville correspondent for People magazine, author of five books and mother of two happily launched grown-up kids. To kick off 2019 she put Tennessee in her rear view mirror, drove into the mountains of WNC, settled in West Asheville and appreciates that writing offers the opportunity to explore and learn her new home. She looks forward to hiking trails, biking greenways, canoeing rivers, sampling local beer and cheering the Asheville Tourists.

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