Dishes served at the WNC Chefs Challenge are scored by diners on presentation, aroma, use of a secret ingredient, and taste. Photographs (left and center) by Jennifer Haynes, (right) by Camilla Calnan
Savor flavors from near and far at four culinary fêtes
written by Melissa C. Reardon
Western North Carolina’s regard for quality ingredients and exemplary food is apparent in the number of great restaurants, award-winning chefs, and culinary events. Reserve your seat at these upcoming cook-offs and ethnic dinners for a taste of what the region has to offer.
King of the Mountain Chef’s Challenge |
March 17, 3-10 p.m.
The barons of Highlands’ culinary scene, Johannes Klapdohr of Madison’s at Old Edwards Inn & Spa, Nicholas Figel of Cyprus International, James Beard Award semifinalist John Fleer of Canyon Kitchen, and Mat Kowal of The Gamekeeper’s Tavern, will battle it out Iron Chef-style during three consecutive cook-offs. Each chef has 40 minutes to plan and prepare a three-course meal. Judges taste the dishes and determine who wins.
What’s in it for you? During the challenges, which last until about 7 p.m., attendees can enjoy hors d’oeuvres and wine while watching all the action. A four-course wine dinner prepared by the stars of the show follows.
The Farm at Old Edwards Inn, Highlands; $135-$165; (828) 526-2909; www.samcallproductions.com/challenge.html
WNC Chefs Challenge | March 20, 6:30 p.m.
The annual WNC Chefs Challenge features a series of cook-offs between 14 local chefs. Two culinary teams compete every Tuesday night through May 22, and two finalists will go head-to-head during the Asheville Wine & Food Festival in August. Each team has an hour to create three dishes based on a secret ingredient. The best part is you’re the judge in this blind tasting. Diners score six small plates created to win your vote. The third annual series kicks off Tuesday, March 20, with Chef and owner Rob Keener from Square 1 in Hendersonville battling Executive Chef Owen McGlynn of Storm Rhum Bar & Bistro in Asheville. Visit the website for the series’ lineup. A portion of the proceeds benefits Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture's Growing Minds Farm to School Program.
The Century Room at Pack’s Tavern, Asheville; $49; (828) 225-6944; www.ashevillewineandfood.com
West African Dinner & Drums | March 21, 6:30 p.m.
WNC offers many ethnic food choices, but West African cuisine is not among them. So here’s your chance. Chef and owner of The Market Place in Asheville, William Dissen, and Chef Nicholas Figel of Cyprus International in Highlands are teaming up to prepare a five-course dinner of West African-inspired cuisine. On the menu is roasted goat maffé (a traditional peanut-based stew), elevated with hints of ginger, coriander, and other spices of the region, served with banku yucca dumplings. A West African drumming and dance performance adds to the cultural evening, which is a benefit for Asheville drum instructor and 33rd generation Ivorian djembe player Adama Dembele, who is working to secure a permanent green card. Reservations requested by March 18.
The Market Place, Asheville; $65; (828) 252-4162; www.marketplace-restaurant.com/events
The New Nordic Table | March 24
James Beard Award semifinalist Chef Katie Button of Cúrate in Asheville will be cooking with Chef Gunnar Karl Gislason from Dill in Reykjavik, Iceland, for this Nordic feast. The day includes a forging expedition, discussions on the new Nordic kitchen trend, and culminates with a dinner highlighting the techniques and ingredients of Nordic cooking, including using pine and birch boughs and hay smoking. Click here to read more about the dinner in our WNC blog, "The Arctic Connection."
Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa; $25 foraging expedition, $110 dinner; www.curatetapasbar.com/#/events