Chow Chow Asheville is an exciting foodie event that saw a revived first rendition back in 2019. Due to global events, the organizing group behind this culinary attraction took a break in 2020 and offered a limited calendar in 2021 (largely virtual), but they are now back with a vengeance and ready to share the very best in local cuisine and culinary talent in-person and with great fanfare. This is a multi-weekend food event that is sure to impress, engage, and inspire.
When is the event?
The organizers have slightly renamed things, calling this the Summer of Chow Chow Asheville 2022 to highlight its extended nature across three summer weekends. Those weekends are June 23-26, August 4-7, and September 8-11.
What is Chow Chow Asheville?
You might have noticed that we called the Chow Chow Asheville 2017 the first revived version of the event, but not quite the first-ever. That’s because much of the essence of this culinary festival is based on the bones of a previous popular festival called the Asheville Food & Wine Festival. The Asheville Food & Wine Festival began in 2009 and, without fanfare, celebrated its last annual event in 2017 (no similar Asheville food festival occurred in 2018). This predecessor event focused on chefs and wine producers with highlight events like the WNC Chefs Challenge that set regional chef against regional chef in a series of cook-offs that ticket holders could vote on. There were other similar competitive events like the best desserts and cocktails.
But while such competitions can be fun and entertaining, they have a certain top-down approach that can feel limiting, especially if that is how most major food wine festival events are built (and they are). Thus, when chefs Katie Button of Curate and Jael Rattigan of French Broad Chocolates started brainstorming a new look for a signature Asheville culinary festival to replace the Asheville Food & Wine Festival, they saw it important to expand the celebrations to celebrate not just culinary figureheads, but everyone involved in making good meals. They chose the name Chow Chow after the familiar Southern relish and rebranded the event to include more immersive, meaningful, and educational events that celebrate and engage discussions on Southern Appalachia floodways and tastes. Plus, of course, there would be plenty of wining and dining activities.
A good example of how Chow Chow Asheville flips food festival experiences on their head was Chow Chow Asheville 2019’s Appalachian Soul Food activity. This was a four-hour experience that began with a tour of a historic Black neighborhood and was followed by an impactful presentation and discussion on how traditionally African-American Bock and East End neighborhoods changed the Asheville food and tourism environment. The event then included an elevated Appalachian and soul food menu that every participant ate together, big table style.
This one event example showcases the three important ways in which the Chow Chow Asheville is distinctly different from your traditional culinary event:
Events Highlight Community Issues
One of the taglines the organizers of Chow chow Asheville utilize is that they are “fostering dialogue about issues that impact our community including racial justice, climate change, and food justice.” Here, it is not just about the food and who can make the best dishes, but rather how these dishes have shaped a community and how the community has shaped them.
Events Highlight People Involved; All the People
Here, it is not just about the top culinary talents, it is also about the farmers and other makers who likewise contribute to Asheville’s fantastic cuisine and foodie environment.
Events Are Immersive
Finally, the vast majority of events at Chow Chow Asheville 2022 are going to involve ticket holders and guests more than just submitting votes for the best of. These are immersive events that invite people to come into the community and experience not just the food, but the community that helped to create it.
Each weekend has three types of events: Signature Events, Workshops & Seminars, and Sunday Suppers. You can either purchase tickets to each of the specific events you want to experience, or purchase a weekend pass for each specific weekend that includes access to all of the events. There are a total of 8 events in June, 7 in August, and 8 in September.
Each weekend’s Sunday Supper is a donation-based event in which a collection of local chefs prepare and serve a gracious buffet, their foods paired with regional craft beverages. But, as with all of the events at Chow Chow Asheville 2020, these shared summer suppers are not just about the food. Each has its own speakers set to lead and facilitate a discussion regarding food and the community.
A few things to note before you purchase tickets. All of these events take place in more intimate spaces and partly due to that as well as other concerns, they are not pet-friendly and largely not kid or event teen-friendly (unless specifically stated). Expect an event to be 21 and up only unless specified otherwise. The big exceptions to this are the three Sunday Suppers open to families. Other events that are listed as family-friendly will require attendees to pay for tickets for children as well.
It’s Time to Book Your Chow Chow Asheville Experience
The other component to this is that because these activities will take place in more intimate spaces, each event has a set capacity with tickets sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. Expect that most events will sell out well before event data and so if you are planning on vacationing and want to experience one or more of the Chow Chow Asheville 2022 events, now is the time to book.