The Asheville Wine & Food Festival’s final phase of their culinary and mixology competitions, The Grand Tasting, will take place this Saturday night at the Civic Center. You may remember my coverage of earlier phases of the competition, AMUSE and ESSENCE, during which one chef and one mixologist were selected by attendees to move on to the next phase. In the Grand Tasting, the final winners will be selected.
Our fair city has an incredible amount of culinary skill and raw talent in its full spectrum of foodies to chefs, which we certainly attract in large numbers. We are so fortunate to have the vast variety of international cuisines, creative applications of ordinary foods, and a culture that supports and encourages local food to be incorporated into our daily life again. It is from our culture that these chefs and mixologists are being drawn.
AMUSE introduced me to Stephen Goff, an incredibly talented chef that was a free agent at the time (but rumor has it we have lost his talent to the Durham area where he’s already been snapped up by some very fortunate restaurant owner. We missed out big time by letting this guy get away). Stephen combined some very unusual ingredients to make a cohesive and surprising bite out of cotton candy, caramel corn and pork bellies.
ESSENCE was equally interesting, and where I crossed paths again with the delightful Scott Ostrander, whose wild boar remoulade bowled me over. I first met Scott at The Red Stag Grill (inside the Grand Bohemian Hotel), and was very impressed with the tastings I sampled. His instincts are spot on, and his farm to table point of view is genuine and unpretentious. Scott’s childhood spent on farms makes his perspective natural and comfortable, and it comes through in every bite he makes. However, his food does not lack in elegance and modern touches.
In both events I experienced many cocktails, but as I am quite a lightweight, I don’t consider myself an expert on the behind-the-bar offerings. However, there were some standout drinks that really stuck with me, including one by Nightbell and another by W XYZ Bar at Aloft.
I look forward to the new tastes and wonders I will be experiencing at The Grand Tasting. Look for my coverage next week.
Until then, visit www.ashevillewineandfood.com to buy tickets for what promises to be an impressive event.