What’s new in food: Asheville plans a nutritional food hub

Q&A from P&R

When the National Recreation and Parks Association awarded Asheville Parks & Recreation an $80,000 grant in May 2020, the original vision was to develop a community nutrition hub at the Stephens-Lee Recreation Center with the intent of improving community access to healthy foods, support services, educational programming, a resource guide and physical activity.

“Part of the reasoning for doing a Stephens-Lee nutrition hub was we knew we had the staff to commit to make the grant successful,” says Lydia Escobedo, NRPA nutrition grant coordinator for Asheville Parks & Recreation. The community center also has the East End Valley Street Community Garden on site adjacent to the Dr. George Washington Carver Edible Park as well as a fitness center with a personal trainer on staff and had begun work with the YMCA to create a food pantry.

Like everything else in 2020, those plans evolved. “During the community engagement process we became more flexible about what a nutrition hub is and would look like and being more of a program to reach all of Buncombe County and our centers,” says Escobedo. “We want to broaden programming to give a whole picture of wellness — what we eat, activities and how we connect to nature.”

Asheville Parks & Recreation has developed a survey to identify and prioritize what needs the program will address. The printed form is available at community centers; an online version is accessible at avl.mx/95x. The survey closes at 11:59 p.m. Monday, April 12.

Snap to it

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer has declared April Food Waste Reduction Month and is working with the Food Waste Solutions WNC group to call attention to preventable food waste; an estimated 57,500 tons of food waste is generated in Buncombe County every year.

Jump into the effort by snapping some shots of the ways you’re fighting food waste — compost bins, meal plans, freezing leftovers, cleaning out the fridge with one-pot meals — and post to social media with the hashtag #AVLFoodWasteChallenge to be entered to win prizes from local media outlets. For tips on reducing food waste, to access a form for auditing home food waste and for updates on a planned compost drop-off program for the public, visit avl.mx/970.


Set aside the pastel M&M’s you swiped from the Easter Bunny and, instead, take a safely distanced seat at Ivory Road Café & Kitchen for the Macarons & Mimosas event. Chef/owner Jill Wasilewski says she was inspired by the multiple beer flight offerings in Beer City to create an M&M flight: four flavors of house-made macarons will be paired with four flavors of mimosas, among them a cardamom & orange blossom macaron paired with a classic fresh-squeezed OJ mimosa, and a  blueberry lemon basil macaron paired with a rosé/lemonade mimosa. Cost is $15 per person (nonalcoholic bubbles are available as well). The event is planned for Sunday, April 11, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; reservations are not required. Full brunch is also available. More details are at avl.mx/971. Ivory Road, 1854 Brevard Road, Arden

Only natural

Shortly after leaving the restaurant business, moving to Asheville and opening Crocodile Wine — devoted entirely to natural wines — on Biltmore Avenue in December 2018, John Hale became acquainted with the staff of Chai Pani restaurant and its restaurant group. “They’re big natural wine fans, and I’m a Chai Pani fan, and we became friends,” Hale says.

When Nani’s Rotisserie Chicken — the newest member of the Chai Pani Restaurant Group family — decided to add wine to its menu, the restaurant naturally turned to Hale. To create the list, he admits, he was forced to eat his way through the entire menu. “It was awful,” he says with a laugh.

To match what he calls an “intense char” on both chicken flavors and some of the sides, Hale says, he wanted wines on the list that are “thirst-quenching but also things that can hold up to those big, bright aromatics and sometimes spicy seasoning.” The result is four bottles priced from $19-$24 and an $8 can of Vina Maitia Aupa Pipeno, described as a light red. The selections will change periodically and seasonally.

Nani’s Rotisserie Chicken, 1 Page Ave., avl.mx/prv4. Crocodile Wine, 27 Biltmore Ave., avl.mx/95y.

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