Asheville company tied to salmonella outbreak will provide tempeh for local food contest


Smiling Hara Tempeh will provide the tempeh to be used in the “Most Epic Tempeh Reuben Challenge,” set for September. The event will bring together local chefs, who will use Smiling Hara’s product to create their versions of the sandwich.

Back in May, dozens of people got sick from salmonella, and health officials traced the outbreak to an unpasteurized tempeh produced by Smiling Hara Tempeh in Asheville. The source of the salmonella was an imported starter culture that was used as an ingredient in tempeh. The ingredient was provided by Tempeh Online, which subsequently shut down its websites. A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a Florida woman who was hospitalized during the outbreak, a suit that names both Smiling Hara and Tempeh Online.

Smiling Tempeh is trying to bounce back from the setback, and you can see the local support it is receiving by reading the following press release:

It started like all great ideas start: with too much coffee. One morning not too long ago, Tyler Hallock, owner of TopFloorStudio, June Thomas, a partner in Nine Mile Restaurant, and J. Clarkson, a staff member at MANNA FoodBank, were exchanging caffeine-laced messages on Twitter about their love for, and skills at creating, a Reuben sandwich made with tempeh. Pretty quickly, it became clear that the question of who’s tempeh Reuben was the best would have to be settled in a challenge of epic proportions, and the MOST EPIC TEMPEH REUBEN CHALLENGE was born. The event will take place on Sunday, September 30th at the Asheville Music Hall from 2pm-6pm and will bring together local chefs to create their versions of the sandwich with the only constant ingredient being Smiling Hara Tempeh.

But there is more to the CHALLENGE than establishing bragging rights. Hallock, Thomas, and Clarkson share a passion for local food and supporting local businesses. “It was immediately clear that we wanted to ask Smiling Hara Tempeh to be involved,” said Clarkson. “They have a great product that has taken some hard knocks recently, and we saw this goofy idea as a way to show our support for local folks who are working hard to bounce back.” According to Clarkson, companies like Smiling Hara that produce added-value food products are essential to creating a vibrant local food scene. “And a thriving local food scene provides more opportunities to work against local food insecurity,” he said.

This event will also work against food insecurity by raising food and funds for MANNA FoodBank. “We wanted to make sure that all the profits from this event supported a good cause, and MANNA was the perfect fit,” said Tyler Hallock. For a $15.00 ticket, attendees can sample and vote on tempeh reubens from Asheville’s finest chefs while they enjoy music by the Sugarfoot Serenaders, local beer and BUCHI. A panel of celebrity judges will name the ultimate winner of the contest. A cash bar will be available, and everyone is encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for MANNA to the event. “Its really unique for an event to focus both on the distribution of food to those in need and the importance of purchasing locally grown and produced food” said June Thomas, “not to mention that we will finally know who in Asheville makes THE MOST EPIC TEMPEH REUBEN!”

1 Comment

Sarah July 10, 2012 - 4:11 pm

This is thrilling news! Smiling Hara is my favorite tempeh ever, and once they start selling it again (it is a once and not an if, right?!?!) it will be back in my house. Goooooooo tempeh!

Post Comment