Here’s a quick look at changes to the annual Asheville Wine & Food Festival, a great foodie event that keeps growing. For all the information and tickets, go to ashevillewineandfood.com:
Cook-off finale: The event starts on Aug. 23 when the top two culinary teams face off to battle for the crown of “best chef in Western North Carolina.” The event will be limited to 100 diners and will be held in the Century Room at Pack’s Tavern in downtown Asheville. Last year, the cook-off was held on the same day as the big expo.
Sweet event grows: On Aug. 24, an after-dinner party featuring sips and samples of desserts and confections, sparkling and dessert wines, and specialty cocktails and spirits will be held from 7:30-10 p.m. at the Grove Arcade. Tickets are $35 each. This year, the event, dubbed Sweet, includes a bartender/mixologist contest. Drink-makers will compete and a panel of judges will pick the “best bartender in WNC.”
New venue for big expo: From 1:30-5 p.m. on Aug. 25, the festivities continue with the grand tasting inside the U.S. Cellular Center. Last year, this event was held at the WNC Ag Center. A smorgasbord of more than 300 wines, creations prepared by Asheville’s celebrated and internationally recognized chefs, and samples of local artisan food products will all be on display and available for tasting. There will also be a fashion show featuring fancy chef wear.
A limited number of VIP passes are available for $65, providing access at noon before the event opens for regular ticket-holders at 1:30 p.m. General admission is $45.
New beneficiary: This year, proceeds from the festival will benefit the nonprofit Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and its Growing Minds initiative, a program that works to connect farms and schools and to provide children positive experiences with healthy foods, including farm field trips, nutrition education, school gardens, and local food in cafeterias.