Making desserts for a living has been Kanas Lam‘s dream since she was a little girl — one that just came true late last month when her new cafe, Sweets & Seats, opened downtown.
The menu consists of coffee drinks, all-natural bubble teas and Taiwanese shaved ice with housemade syrups. The walk-up counter showcases French pastries made by Lam, who earned her Diplôme de Pâtisserie from Le Cordon Bleu Taiwan right before the pandemic. A native of Hong Kong who grew up in New York City, Lam arrived in Asheville a little over a year and a half ago.
Lam is no stranger to the food industry. Throughout her life she’s launched a number of restaurants. But until now, her culinary focus leaned more toward the savory than the sweet. “This is my dream,” she says. “I love to create — and with dessert, I can create pretty things.”
After Lam semiretired five years ago, she started making desserts at home to share with friends. At the time, her son had just graduated from college, and she says she was experiencing empty-nest syndrome. Eventually, she began taking her desserts to employees at Red Ginger Dimsum & Tapas, which is owned by her sister-in-law, Mary Medvedev.
“People loved it, and they’d ask why don’t I open a pastry shop,” Lam remembers. “I was sitting outside on the porch [at Red Ginger], and I laughed, ‘Yeah, maybe right across the street!’ I wasn’t serious at that time. And then it happened.”
Despite its name, Sweets & Seats is not a reference to the space’s large seating area and ample chairs. Rather, modern outdoor furniture samples from the Higold Group fill much of the lounge and are available to order via catalog or online. Lam says she wanted to meet Asheville’s outdoorsy interests with a new, modern outdoor concept.
The cafe is currently open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, noon-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Sunday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. But Lam is hoping to open at 7:30 a.m. on certain days in the near future to serve coffee and traditional Chinese milk buns to early birds.
Lam says although opening a brand-new business isn’t easy, she feels rewarded. “I fell in love with making pastries because I love to see the joy on people’s faces when they try them. And every time I make dessert, it also makes me happy.”
Sweets & Seats is at 81 Patton Ave. For more information, visit avl.mx/cvi.
People in the South are almost as passionate about their mayonnaise choices as they are about their barbecue. On Thursday, Aug. 3, fans of Charlotte-based Duke’s Mayonnaise can slather on the love for its mascot, Tubby, from 9-11 a.m. in Pack Square Park.
Stu Helm, an Asheville food blogger and tour guide, invited the mascot to town. “Put your mayonnaise-eating pants on,” Helm wrote in a social media post, encouraging locals to come out in support.
“I’m from up North, and my last name is Helm, so take a guess which mayonnaise I grew up eating,” he says. “As soon as I got down to Asheville, though, I started hearing about Duke’s — not just from home cooks, but from fancy chefs and eaters of all kinds. Once I tried it myself, I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s way better,’ and I have never looked back.”
City Council members will share the stage with Tubby and will present him with a spatula-shaped key to the city, designed and created by local artist Zen Sutherland. In case of rain or extreme heat, Tubby will be at Twisted Laurel Downtown Asheville at 130 College St.
Pack Square Park is at 80 Court Plaza. For more information, visit avl.mx/prxg.
A history of spirits
An award-winning documentary debunking myths about moonshining will debut on PBS NC on Thursday, Aug. 3, at 10 p.m. “The Spirits Still Move Them” features interviews with three dozen moonshiners and their families in Western North Carolina, east Tennessee and South Carolina.
The film was created by David Weintraub, executive director of the Center for Cultural Preservation, a nonprofit in Hendersonville. According to Weintraub, “Everything we know about moonshiners and moonshining history is wrong.”
Weintraub says he makes films to uncover the real Appalachian heritage from under layers of mythology and falsehood, so that we can learn from the wisdom, creativity and resilience of our elders.
“The myth that all moonshiners are violent, lazy, drunk criminals hiding in the woods wearing long beards and longer arrest records has been recounted by the media for over 100 years,” he says in a press release. “In reality, liquor production was hard, backbreaking work that only the most entrepreneurial farmers conducted, which they did in order to survive difficult circumstances and put food on the table. It’s a fascinating story and far more interesting than the myths and distortions we’ve heard.”
For more information, visit avl.mx/prxi.
A-B Tech’s Culinary Arts team took home second place in the American Culinary Federation’s National Finals in New Orleans in July.
The student team secured its spot in the national contest in March by winning the Southeast Region at a qualifying competition in Overland Park, Kan. The team consisted of captain Jason Gray, Nickolas Abbott, Corrine Dowd, Abbey Franklin, Yajaira Marlen Sandoval-Castenada and Ashley Neri, and was led by coaches Chris Bugher and Stephen Hertz.
“It has been a long, hard road to get these students to this point,” says Bugher, noting that the initial tryouts began in the fall.
He says the group’s wide age range, 19-52, made their team dynamic interesting. “They really came together in May as we traveled to Kansas and competed.”
After placing in the final four, Bugher says, “we buckled down and everyone really put their heart into it.”
This year’s competition marks a record-setting 14th time an A-B Tech student team has competed for the national title.
For more information on A-B Tech’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program, visit avl.mx/cjo.
Tacos, disco and an adult happy meal
West Asheville’s Taco Boy is offering some new options for both the brunch and late-night crowds.
Starting Sunday, Aug. 6, and running each Sunday throughout the month, the Daytime Disco Sunday Brunch will take place 10 a.m.-2 p.m. “Boozy brunch pitchers” of house margaritas and frozen screwdrivers will be available, while DJ Dr. Get Right will offer “groovy, pool-party-style vibes” on the patio.
For those wanting their taco fix later in the evening, the restaurant is extending its hours to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and to midnight Friday and Saturday, with a late-night menu consisting of shareables such as nachos and Mexican street corn. The newest item, the Adult Happy Meal, includes two tacos, a beer, a tequila shot and a “surprise.”
“We love the all-in-one solution for a late night meal that you don’t have to think too much about,” says Taco Boy founder and co-owner Karalee Nielson Fallert. “We also love the nostalgia and smile that the happy meal brings to everyone.”
Taco Boy is at 521 Haywood Road. For more information, visit avl.mx/byw.