At Asheville’s first Stoobie Awards live event, Vivian restaurant wins big


Vivan restaurant in the Asheville River Arts District was the big winner of Monday night’s first Stoobie Awards live ceremony, winning both Best New Restaurant and Restaurant of the Year.

Those were two of 16 awards host Stu Helm bestowed on local restaurants, food makers and food industry workers during an event produced by Shay Brown Events and Sprout Consulting, as well as Helm and

Buxton Hall Barbecue was another big winner of the night. Ashley Capps, the head pastry chef at Buxton Hall, was named Chef of the Year. The restaurant was also recognized in the Best Effing F.O.H. category for having the most helpful, friendly and engaging front-of-house staff. (See the full list of winners below.)

Other key honorees included Jane Anderson, the executive director of the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association, who was named Food Person of the Year, and Chef Meherwan Irani of Chai Pani and Buxton Hall Barbecue restaurants and Spicewalla spice-maker, who was named Restaurateur of the Year.

It was the first live event for the awards, which Helm has been awarding through written posts for this website over the past five years. Helm, who worked as a graphic designer, began writing food reviews for after first garnering a following for food reviews he posted to Facebook. Helm’s food columns can now be found at a variety of local publications.

More than 100 food lovers joined representatives of Asheville’s top restaurants and food-makers for a night of amazing samples – everything from pizza and pasta to fancy doughnuts and handmade chocolates. Photos on the red carpeted entry, craft drinks, games, chair massages and music filled out a night focused on celebrating Asheville’s vibrant and renown food scene.

Vivian restaurant opened in January 2018 in the former location of The Junction restaurant on Depot Street. Shannon McGaughey and her husband, Chef Josiah McGaughey, moved to that spot after developing a fan following at Salt & Smoke, a small eatery attached to the popular Burial Beer Co. craft brewery on Asheville’s South Slope. The couple describes their food as Europe-meets-the-South. Josiah McGaughey is trained in French cuisine and embraces a seasonal approach to menu-making, Helm wrote back in February.

In 2013, Jane Anderson joined the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association. In accepting her award, she said she was honored to champion the association’s member restaurants and their employees.

Meherwan Irani has built a small restaurant empire focused on bringing Indian street food to the masses since opening Chai Pani restaurant in Asheville in 2009. Last year, he told that he planned to open three more Atlanta Botiwalla restaurant locations this year, and as many as eight to 10 more over the next five years across the Southeast. Irani’s future plans could include as many as 50 Botiwalla restaurants. Also last year, Time magazine named Irani one of 31 People Who Are Changing the South.

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to everyone who participated and came out.

Here’s the full list of winners from Monday night’s event:

1. Lifetime Achievement – Sunny Point Cafe, for their shrimp n grits
2. Burger of the Year – Oyster House Brewing, for its Oyster House burger
3. Pizza of the Year – Manicomio, for its smoked artichoke heart and fresh tomato pizza
4. Fried Chicken – 67 Biltmore Downtown Eatery + Catering, for its biscuits ‘n’ gravy w/ fried chicken
5. Reuben – The Continental Lounge
6. Sandwich of the Year – Underground Cafe, for its Ma! Meatloaf!
7. Cook of the Year – Matt Kovitch (Mojo Kitchen, Dark City Deli)
8. Food Maker of the Year – No Evil Foods
9. Food Person of the Year – Jane Anderson of the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association
10. Restaurateur of the Year – Meherwan Irani (Chain Pani, Buxton Hall Barbecue, Spicewalla)
11. Best Effing F.O.H. – Buxton Hall Barbecue
12. Most Consistent(ly Awesome) – Cúrate
13. Fancy Meal of the Year – Historic Biltmore Village, Dining Under the Stars
14. Best New Restaurant – Vivian
15. Chef of the Year – Chef Ashley Capps (Buxton Hall Barbecue)
16. Restaurant of the Year – Vivian

The 2018 Participating Restaurants: Geraldine’s . Nightbell . Sunny Point . Table . Sovereign Remedies. 50 Fifty Desserts . Polanco . Underground Cafe . Buchi . No Evil Foods. Manicomio . Melt Your Heart Food Truck . Buxton Hall . The Hope Ice Cream. Sandhill Kitchen . Worthy Baker . Twisted Laurel . Aux Bar. Rolled and Roasted. French Broad Chocolate Lounge

Drinks By: H&H Distillery . Urban Orchard . Sovereign Remedies. Hillman Beer . Devils Foot

Entertainment By: DJ Molly Parti . Asheville Plays . Indulge Images . Massage on Wheels

Sponsored by: Ingles . Us Foods . Ameripride . Cintas . Hickory Nut Gap Farms. Food Connection . Dig Local . Danny’s Dumpsters . AIR . Downtown Association. Mtn Merch . Sunburst Trout . Take Out Central . Fiasco Pictures