By Robin Gibson
While many of us sought refuge in higher elavations from Dorian, there's a perfectly good reason to run for the hills again. Chow Chow: An Asheville Culinary Event kicks off several days of food, makers, farmers, chefs, brewers and more for a festival that can best be described by drawing on its name — an eclectic mix of talented ingredients coming together for a delicious whole. The Blue Ridge mountain setting offers the perfect backdrop and escape, too, from this post-Dorian heat and humidity for locals interested in checking it out.
Presented by Kimpton Hotel Arras, the inaugural 501(c)3 festival backed by an impressive list of sponsors and Board of Directors even has a Charleston connection. Event Director Angel Holmes, a culinary scene tour de force with Charleston Wine + Food and BevCon under her belt, brings her knowledge and knack for event planning to the multi-day, immersive experience. Brought into the project by Festival President Katie Button, Chef and Owner of Cúrate and Button & Co. Bagels, Holmes, who owns Sipindipity, a full-service F&B consulting firm, jumped at the chance to participate.
Commuting back and forth from Asheville to Charleston isn't without its challenges but she credits the oppotunity with allowing her to appreciate Charleston even more. "I'm always happy to come back home," she says.
On what sets Chow Chow apart, Holmes points to price point as an example. "Asheville is a cost-conscious town. There are a lot of very affordable experiences and some are free." Overall feel is another. Events like the signature Pickled in the Park Grand Tasting involve crowds but many are small, intimate affairs meant to encourage meaningful connections. Still, others have a participatory element in hands-on workshops and seminars.
Manna Food Bank is Charity Partner and all donations made by attendees will directly benefit its Packs for Kids program. The initiative provides nutrient-dense sustenance to Western North Carolina school kids who might otherwise go hungry on weekends.
Chow Chow's website says it best. "Discover the alluring alchemy of mountain traditions, heirloom ingredients, and urban energy that inspire the James Beard-nominated chefs, sustainable farmers, innovative brewers, artisans, and foragers who commune at Asheville’s collaborative table."
Fesitvities begin with the Mountain Top Soiree: Opening Party Thursday night at Highland Brewing Company and conclude with the Chow Time Closing Party at Salvage Station Sunday at 5 p.m. For a full schedule of events, tickets and accommodations visit chowchowasheville.com or download the App.