What’s new in food: WNC FoodWorks opens at WNC Farmers Market

WILL WORK WITH FOOD: Blue Ridge Food Ventures General Manager Michael McDonald, left, and WNC FoodWorks Manager Matthew Shimko, pose in the new facility's classroom kitchen. Photo by Andy Hall

The grand opening for WNC FoodWorks Training and Education Center is on Saturday, Oct. 14, 10 a.m.

The celebration will begin with welcome and thank-you remarks from Michael McDonald, executive director of the Center for Agricultural and Food Entrepreneurship, the organization’s parent body. The event follows with a formal introduction of the facility’s new manager, Matthew Shimko, a brief overview of the facility and services, and then 15-minute tours of the building at 11 a.m., noon, 1 and 2 pm.

The 5,000-square-foot shared-use commercial kitchen meets the needs of caterers, meal delivery services and other local producers of food and natural goods. Food trucks have easy access to the clean water exchange, and Blue Ridge Biofuels operates and converts the waste from a 100-gallon oil disposal unit. Prospective clients fill out a contract and, once approved, are given a door code to come and go as they need.

McDonald, who also serves as general manager for Blue Ridge Food Ventures — WNC FoodWorks’ sibling organization — says the major difference between the new facility and the one on A-B Tech’s Candler campus is more robust training and educational programming. This includes in-house training as well as space for community stakeholders to run their own programming. He says WNC FoodWorks can facilitate an “incubation phase” for small businesses, while Blue Ridge Food Ventures could be the “acceleration phase.”

“We are able to accommodate the very smalls with a less intimidating production environment here,” he says. “Like a mom and pop that just wants to expand the capacity for preserving their on-farm produce. Or the entry-level-person catering operation. Or somebody making 10 bottles of hot sauce at a time on their home stove, but wants to expand to making 20 or 30 cases. … We want to provide them with the resources, the inspected facility, the equipment and the training to make that happen.”

The grand opening coincides with the WNC Farmers Market Harvest Festival, 9 a.m.-4p.m., which will feature live music, local food, apple tasting, games and an antique tractor parade.

WNC FoodWorks Training and Education Center is at the WNC Farmers Market at 570 Brevard Road, Unit 9. For more information, visit avl.mx/d1z.

JAMBAR settles in Asheville

JAMBAR, the organic energy bar company based in Marin County, Calif., has chosen Asheville as its East Coast headquarters.

The mission-based JAMBAR, which donates 50% of net profits to nonprofit organizations that promote music and active living, was founded by Jennifer Maxwell, who also co-founded PowerBar with her late husband, Brian, 35 years ago.

Maxwell’s inspiration for JAMBAR began after talking with one of her six children about the lack of tasty nutrition bars on the market. She started experimenting in her kitchen in 2016, using the same KitchenAid mixer that she used to make the first PowerBars. The final product, which launched two years ago, is made entirely of real-food ingredients, with two whey-based bars and two plant-based bars using sunflower protein. Flavors include Chocolate Cha Cha and Musical Mango.

Last year Adam Smith, an Asheville native living in the Bay Area, pitched the idea of bringing JAMBAR to Asheville. He was visiting the JAMBAR facility after the company donated product to a youth mountain biking program he was leading.

“I was planning to move back to Asheville, but I didn’t have a job at the time,” he says. “And I thought, ‘This is a no-brainer’ — because it’s woman-owned, it’s philanthropic, it’s all organic. It’s everything that Asheville values.”

Maxwell agreed to his proposal and hired him on the spot. The decision also made sense because Asheville has the highest concentration of JAMBAR retailers outside Marin County.

The company is sponsoring over 50 area wellness events in the upcoming year.

“The bars are direct descendants of the original PowerBar, which so many people have this nostalgic connection to,” says Maxwell. “It’s just a wonderful thing to be part of, and people want to be part of it.”

For more information on JAMBAR, visit avl.mx/d20.

Mobile mocktails

The grand opening for Roll Up Herbal Bar, a mobile bar serving “garden-to-glass” mocktails, will be held Wednesday, Oct. 11, 3-9 p.m.

The bar, operating out of a 1971 Volkswagen bus named Herbie, will be parked in the Sunny Point Café parking lot. Complimentary charcuterie from AVL Carcuterie Co. and dessert bites from The Rabbit Hole will be served while live music, trivia and contests take place throughout the event.

Owner Sam Kearney, who honed her bartending skills at Sunny Point Café, says she created her mocktails in response to those who choose not to drink alcohol but want options beyond sugary beverages. “I’m here for the foodies that miss the flavor of a well-balanced cocktail, but don’t miss the hangover,” she says in a press release.

Adaptogen shots and blends can be added to any drink, and Kearney says she plans on working with “as many local farms as possible.” Kearney also offers a mobile indoor bar for rent, called Lil’ Buddy.

Sunny Point Café is at 626 Haywood Road. For more information on Roll Up Herbal Bar, visit avl.mx/d21.

Jettie Rae’s earns top Tripadvisor honors

Jettie Rae’s Oyster House was named in the top 10 of Tripadvisor’s 2023 Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Restaurants in the U.S. It is the only North Carolina restaurant represented on the Everyday Eats list.

Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best is awarded to restaurants with a high volume of above-and-beyond reviews and opinions on Tripadvisor over a 12-month period.

The restaurant features classic seafood dishes such as New England-style clam strips, Spanish octopus, Gullah-style Carolina crab rice and oysters. Several new dishes have been introduced for fall, including Outer Banks scallops with roasted winter squash and prawns with pecan romesco.

Jettie Rae’s Oyster House is at 143 Charlotte St. For more information, visit avl.mx/bef.

Locals win at the N.C. Mountain State Fair

Several local contestants brought winning recipes to the N.C. Mountain State Fair.

In a contest run by the N.C. Egg Association and N.C. Dairy Producers Association, Amy Braman of Pisgah Forest earned first place with her Mexican street corn frittata recipe, with Sharon Gates of Leicester winning second place for her deluxe pizza frittata, and Jennifer Currie of Clyde placing third for her Dear Me, This Is Gouda breakfast frittata.

In the N.C. Dairy Producers Association’s Amazing Dairy Appetizer recipe contest, Martha Gates of Candler won first place for her cheesy pot pies, Justin Pegg of Leicester followed in second for his pepperjack pepperoni pull-apart rolls, and Currie earned another third-place honor with her chunky, cheesy, piggy veggie dip.

For more information on the N.C. Mountain State Fair, visit avl.mx/bya.

The Trashy Vegan closes

The owners of The Trashy Vegan announced via an Instagram post that they will be closing at the end of the year.

“We’re so thankful for our little trashy family (you!), for everyone who’s eaten a burger or liked our posts,” they wrote in the same post. “We couldn’t have done any of this for the last three years without y’all. So come see us for the very first time or the hundredth time! Either way, we love you and we can’t wait to feed you.”

Joel Boggs and Michelle Edwards opened the restaurant, which started years earlier as a food truck, last summer.

The Trashy Vegan is at 697 Haywood Road. For more information, visit avl.mx/d27.


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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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