The French Broad: Mark Rosenstein’s new lessons from an Appalachian table

Mark Rosenstein has been a fixture in the Appalachian-area food “scene” for 40 years, though one could always argue that referring to our local food culture as a “scene” has been a rather recent development.

Rosenstein is well known as the chef and proprietor of The Market Place restaurant on Asheville’s Wall Street, an institution that has become a fixture in its own rights. The Market Place is one of the cornerstones in the foundation of Asheville’s coalition of restaurants, serving modern, seasonal cuisine since when such terms were not buzzwords.

Recently, Rosenstein finalized the sale of The Market Place to chef William Dissen, though he remains involved as a consultant. Freeing himself at least somewhat of his daily duties has apparently sparked Rosenstein’s creative juices: He’s recently launched a vivid food blog, The French Broad: Lessons from the Appalachian Table.

On his site, Rosenstein’s words run the gamut from the floral to the practical as he speaks of his love of the hearth, the family table or his well-worn iron skillets:

“Having made my way for forty years working with food, there are a few practices I have come to believe are essential for balance. The acts of cooking and then gathering around the table to share fulfill so many of our needs. It is not a difficult or complicated matter to have this happen, but it does require a conscious decision to do so. We are not solitary creatures. Gathering around the table is a communal act and from that place all civilization emanates. We teach our children there, honor our ancestors, begin and continue courtship, celebrate our fortunes; happy or sad, solidify partnerships, negotiate treaties of peace, brainstorm the future, and give thanks with offerings of food. I challenge you to name an activity more important than sharing food around the table. The Table is the foundation of civilization; culture stands on the backs of cooks.”

In addition to planning his next book and pursuing his interest in photography, Rosenstein has just used goats to clear some of his land in Asheville in preparations for his first urban garden, the site says.

Rosenstein is also planning a series of cooking classes. Visit his blog at www.thefrenchbroad.com for more information.

— Mackensy Lunsford, Xpress food coordinator

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