As Chow Chow Culinary Festival prepares for its debut, the whole community is abuzz with a spirit of collaboration, camaraderie and local pride. Set to kick off September 12-15, Chow Chow features over 20 immersive signature events that serve and celebrate our region’s creative community of makers. Channeling its namesake, the traditional Appalachian crunchy pickled relish, Chow Chow alchemizes the special traditions and crafts of the region in order to create an experience far greater than the sum of its parts.
“It’s a really unique celebration for makers across the table and it’s something that’s never been done at this scale in Asheville,” explains Event Director Angel Postell. “It’s not just about chefs or beverage people; it’s about highlighting everyone who is involved and doing cool things in the community. The florists, farmers, potters and craftspeople.”
To this end, Chow Chow has partnered with more than twenty community organizations that include the Center for Craft, ASAP, the YMCA of WNC, Asheville Greenworks, Explore Asheville, the Asheville Chamber, and beyond. The organizers have also made a special effort to ensure as many ingredients are as locally sourced as possible. Visiting chefs have been provided a list of sources where they can purchase local, and Postell expects that about 60% of all materials used will come from the Asheville area.
“Both Chow Chow and the Center for Craft aim to celebrate and support our community of local and regional makers and are likewise committed to bringing unique voices and experience to the Western North Carolina area and its residents,” says Marilyn Zapf, Assistant Director and Curator of the Center for Craft. “Craft is a value and philosophy that pervades the Asheville food scene – from the small batch and high-quality artisanal products made here, to the handmade and locally-sourced dishes served up in restaurants around town. Not to mention the many potters, glass blowers, metalsmith and other makers who help to shape the creative table!”
Festival organizers predict that the event will bring significant economic impact in the form of wages, business revenue, and taxes for residents and businesses, as well as increase revenue for a wide variety of businesses including farms, restaurants, artists, craft producers, craft beverage makers, musicians, venues, event suppliers, transportation, insurance, professional services, rentals, etc.
“The arts and creative community are part of Asheville’s DNA. It’s exciting to see new events like Chow Chow that understand the area’s heritage and, like Center for Craft, are committed to ensuring its sustainability and growth,” adds Zapf.
Another focus of the festival is to increase awareness about food insecurity and food waste. In a hands-on workshop, “Waste Not, Dye Au Naturel” with local weaver Danielle Burke, Center for Craft will collect food waste from local area restaurants and teach attendees how to use it to create natural dyes. Chow Chow is also partnering with MANNA FoodBank to shine a light on its initiatives to end hunger and help the organization raise money to further its goals.
“This is such a big community event,” Postell reflects. “We have a board of amazing and dedicated leaders who also run successful businesses and they are putting so much energy into making this event phenomenal. Everything will be done because of their passion.”
To learn more about Chow Chow or purchase your tickets, visit https://www.exploreasheville.com/chow-chow-culinary-festival/. If you’re interested in volunteering, apply here. There are also plenty of opportunities for sponsorship, promotion and vendors. Visit here for more information.