Asheville started something magical this past weekend with the Chow Chow Asheville Food Festival. Culinary talent from the world along with regional favorites descended on Pack Square and special event spots all around the city. These included some Knoxville notables like Blackberry Farm’s Cassidee Dabney and Joey Edwards and also Blackberry Farm Brewery’s Roy Milner taking part in the festivities. We began with a brewery and restaurant collaboration featuring Blackberry Farm, Burial Beer, and Fonta Flora showing how the collaborations with their own farms and local artisans produce seasonal beer and food pairings that set themselves apart. Thoughtful ingredients like wild sumac, marigolds and bread made for interesting conversation with the brewers and chefs.
Pickled In The Park
The main event, Pickled in the Park, was held in Pack Square with a grand tasting area including José Andres who has been providing hurricane relief in the Caribbean. He flew in for a quick day with his pal Katie Button of Curate to create a giant paella feast for guests. Chef tastings throughout the area were unique and heartfelt creations.
One of our favorite bites was a sampling of sweets from Red Truck Bakery, which is a favorite of President Obama. The Bourbon and apple spice cakes as well as the granola were of the best we’ve ever had. The Collaboratory was pairing their lastest collaborative efforts between folks like Oskar Blues, Cigar City Brewing and Deep Ellum Brewery with a plate of house-pretzels, pimento cheese and crackers and we were able to chat with former Knoxville resident Tori McGammon who now calls Asheville home. The Chop Chop Butchery offered up an amazing spread of local charcuterie to accompany their butchery demo. Isa’s Bistro Smoked Salmon rillette was perhaps our favorite savory bite under the tents. Preeti Mistry of Top Chef fame was under the tent presenting her pork belly full of flavors she’s so famous for. There were too many to mention!
Along with the tasting area, there were evening festivities each night like Cacao, Confections and Cocktails at French Broad Chocolate factory. Guests were treated to cocktails and wine paired with luscious chocolate creations. The pairing from Empire State South’s Kelli Thorne and Buxton Hall BBQ’s Ashley Capps was one of the most spot-on booze & dessert combinations to be found. The peachy, boozie beverage perfectly complimented the light but sweet and complex chocolate dessert.
Sips and Salutations
There was an event that made this festival uniquely Asheville, Sips and Salutations. A 45-minute yoga class in the great outdoors followed by breakfast, coffee and cocktails! It was a lovely way to start a Saturday morning. Mrs. KnoxFoodie’s favorite bite was an everything bagel topped with a fromage blanc from Looking Glass Creamery, pea shoots, edible flowers, and charcoal salt prepared by Chef Rich Orris. It, paired with a gin cocktail called Rising Sun from Vivian and Chemist Gin made for a great morning.
The weekend was very well attended and guests enjoyed all the food and beverage they could handle. First year festivals usually show signs of at least mild chaos, but the team at Chow Chow were prepared for the large crowds and the entire event went smoothly. A large feat for a first-time event. We hope this event is an annual affair so keep an eye out for announcements.