ASHEVILLE – Area chefs have accepted the challenge to prepare locally sourced ingredients using creative approaches in an unpredictable environment.
Cochon555’s Heritage Fire Tour is making a stop in WNC for the first time. The chefs will demonstrate diverse cooking techniques with a focus on cooking on an open flame. On July 17, Heritage Fire-Asheville will debut at Franny’s Farm, 22 Franny’s Farm Road in Leicester.
Terri Terrell, of Ladies Who Brunch pop-up series, is one of the chefs slated to participate in the ultimate open-air, live-fire collaborative tasting event, Heritage Fire.
“Working with live fire, you don’t have that much control. You don’t have a thermometer on the fire, necessarily,” Terrell said. “What’s rewarding is the success is building the fire that you want that’s consistent with the dish you are cooking. Timing live-fire and getting it out the way you want… there’s the trick and there lies the reward.”
Guests will be privileged to live entertainment and unlimited food tastings, in addition to wine, cocktails and craft beer plus curated beverages and dish pairings.
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The venue creates an organic flow and a picturesque view of a working farm and the Blue Ridge mountains.
“It’s this huge open space surrounded by goats and sheep and cows and everything,” Terrell said. “And the setting, I don’t think you can ask for anything better.”
The cooking arena is designed to stimulate guests visually, too, said Brett Friedman, the CEO of Agency 21, the event production and management company behind Heritage Fire.
“It creates this enjoyable view for people as they’re entering and they see these 20-plus different chefs cooking on this open fire – each one with their own individual creation of open fire,” Friedman said. “You almost have to immediately shift gears from the viewpoint of what a traditional barbecue looks like.”
Who’s cooking what
Each chef is designated a protein or vegetable to “make shine” using their choice of open-air cooking methods, such as a live-fire pit, open fire grill or smoker, Lauren Melamed, director of integrated marketing said. Cast iron pans, grills or cinder block pits are among the options, too.
Owen McGlynn is chef and owner of Asheville Proper, a restaurant based on live-fire cooking. However, the chef signed up to cook without the amenities of a traditional restaurant kitchen.
“It’s pretty primitive. Basically, some grates and some cinder blocks and they’ll have wood there for us and we’ll do our cooking,” McGlynn said. “It’s to have fun with it. I’m going to enjoy it. I think it’s going to be a good time.”
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Live fire cooking creates a tasting experience unlike food cooked on a stove,
“You get a nice char from it over the coals – smokiness,” McGlynn said. “It imparts different flavors to it, for sure.”
McGlynn is planning to prepare in-house dry-aged New York strips with locally sourced heirloom tomato chimichurri, a Vidalia onion salad and stem ash aioli. Locally sourced ingredients will include tomatoes from Perez Farms.
Terrell, a Mississippi native, will make “Oyster Natchez,” described as a grilled, fire-roasted oyster with tomato aspic, Hickory Nut Gap Farm bacon, Delta aioli, Urfa chili flakes, okra dust from the Utopian Seed Project and microgreens from Asheville Microgreens. Local tomatoes and Spicewalla spices will be incorporated.
“It’s a little take on a BLT in a way on top of an oyster,” Terrell said.
Executive chef Michelle Baily cooks with live fire “all day, every day” at Smoky Park Supper Club.
“It’s not really a flavor you can replicate in any other way, and there’s so many different applications of cooking with live-fire from low and slow smoking something at 225 degrees for 15 hours to running our grill at 750 degrees for service so we can char pork chops and steaks and cook burgers to order.”
At Heritage Fire, Bailey will create a “classic bite” of light, seasonal dishes. On the menu is “broke down gumbo” made with house andouille served with fire-roasted shrimp and topped with pickled tomatoes and trinity salad with fresh herbs and thinly cut vegetables. Crispy okra will be sprinkled on top. It will be finished with a smoked dark roux smoked Duke’s with charred rice dust for garnish.
Bert Sheffield, chef at White Labs Brewing Co., will switch gears from pizza to get back to his native roots in South Louisiana. He is planning to prepare a grilled Cajun-style boudin sandwich served with a slice of bread and topped with grilled vegetables, remoulade and an okra and celery salad.
“Something nice and fresh to break up all of that rich, juicy meats,” Sheffield said.
White Labs will provide beer on tap, including Hoppy Lager, made with German lager yeast.
“When it comes to these beer and food festivals, the pairings definitely matters but it’s more about the quality,” said Erik Fowler, head of education and craft hospitality. “You put good beer and good food in front of somebody and show them a good time – that’s really what’s most impactful.”
New to WNC
The Heritage Fire Tour is a celebration of heritage breed proteins and heirloom produce and promotes sustainable agriculture and consumer eating. There is an upward trend of more people being interested in what they consume, Friedman said.
In 2010, the food and wine festival series was launched in Napa Valley, California. It continues to showcase pasture diversity and family farming in various regions across the US
This year, the Heritage Fire Tour has nine cities on the roster, including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami and Nashville.
“We’re always looking for new, innovative cities, and Asheville just hit it on the head for where we’d like to be for this tour,” Friedman said.
“We bring 20 of the top chefs in each city that we tour to shed light on all of the incredible food offerings supported by local farms to consumers in a more of a fun, innovative way,” Melamed said. “Asheville has such an incredible food community and such incredible chefs it was a no-brainer when we decided which tour stops we were going to this year.”
Although the mission and overall format are the same from city to city, the experience is unique for each destination. Local chefs, winemakers, brewers and the focus on local and regional ingredients and agriculture give the festival a flair that can’t be duplicated.
“What’s so great about this event is you’re not going to see the same style of cooking each year. You’re going to see different chefs involved,” Melamed said. “We’re really excited to bring this to Asheville for many years to come and make it an annual event here.”
For the chefs, it’s also a time to connect with the community and each other.
“It will be fun getting these different chefs together from Asheville and regional, too,” McGlynn said. “Just meeting new people… seeing what everyone brings to the table. I think it will be fun. Everyone’s doing something different. I’m excited to get together with everybody and enjoy ourselves and get outside.”
Heritage Fire chef lineup
Eric Morris, Culture
Owen McGlynn, Asheville Proper
Glenn Osterberg, Rhubarb
Michael Achberger, Table
Graham House, Chop Shop
Matt Weinstein, Oak Steakhouse Highlands
Ophus Hethington, Triangular Traded Spices
Steven GoffTastee Diner
Michelle BaileySmoky Park Supper Club
Kelley Crandall, Umami Mami
Chef Terri Terrell
Bert Sheffield, White Labs Brewing Co.
Luis Martinez, Tequio Foods
Daniel Wheeler, Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute
Lynn Wells, Thyme Well Spent Personal Chef Service
Michael Lewis, Ukiah Japanese Smokehouse
Luke OwensJulep Contemporary Kitchen
Heritage Fire TourAsheville
Where: Franny Farms, 22 Franny Farms Road, Leicester
When: July 17
Hours: General admission 5:45 p.m.-8 p.m.; VIP early access at 5pm
Cost: $99 overall, $150 VIP early access
Info: Purchase tickets online at heritagefiretour.com/asheville/.
Tiana Kennell is the food and dining reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. Email her from her at email@example.com or follow her from her on Twitter / Instagram @PrincessOfPage. Please help support this type of journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times.