AIRfare, a monthly e-newsletter, by the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association, connecting loyal local food lovers to Asheville’s flourishing culinary scene. The newsletter highlights AIR chefs and restaurants, local food-related events, culinary news, and fun facts about AIR members and partners. AIRfare is presented by longtime partner, McGuire Wood & Bissette.
Check out our top stories from the June edition of AIRfare below.
The Chef: Rakim Gaines of Capella on 9
The Chef: Rakim Gaines paints plates with color and cooks from his soul
Rakim Gaines, executive chef of Capella on 9, is not a procrastinator. But he waits until the current season is about to bid adieu before he begins ruminating on the next.
“We have a spring/summer menu and a fall/winter menu, and I don’t start thinking about the next one until a couple weeks out,” he says. “I have a better thought process when I’m getting excited about fall coming back or spring coming back, and I’m feeling that new season.”
And color, says Gaines, is his first consideration. “A lot of my dishes are super bright and colorful. You eat with the eyes first, and I want to create that sense of anticipation.”
The Maker: Asheville Tea Company
Steeping It Real
Asheville Tea Company brews a sense of place in every cup
Jessie Dean’s relationship with tea goes back to her childhood in Boone, N.C., with nostalgic memories of her grandmother brewing tea, pouring it over ice, sweetening it, and adding a fresh lemon wedge. As a young teen, she tried coffee but found it too bitter; instead, she and her best friend bonded over mugs of hot tea.
While still in high school and later in college at UNC-Greensboro, Dean worked in outdoor education and discovered that tea was the perfect warmup drink, convenient to make at a campsite. Her senior year of college, she met her future husband, Barney Caulfield, a native of Britain, where tea is the national beverage.
Back of House: Daniel Bermudez of Limones
Back of House: Mother Country, Daniel Bermudez’s mother taught him to cook in Mexico; at Limones he became a chef
When Daniel Bermudez, sous chef at Limones restaurant, was growing up in Puebla, Mexico, it was still the culture of the country for women — mothers, grandmothers, daughters — to be in the kitchen, preparing all the meals for the family while the men worked outside the home.
But it wasn’t until his mother had her sixth child (and first son) that she got some helping hands. “My mother would call on my sisters to be with her in the kitchen and they had no interest,” Bermudez says. “But I loved my mother and loved the kitchen and wanted to be there. I always had a passion to cook.”
Letting It Fly
Jargon executive chef Ryan Kline thrives in West Asheville
Crispy pig ears aren’t for everyone. But a surprising number of people have a fondness for them and will be happy to know they can almost always be found at the top of the menu at West Asheville restaurant Jargon, thanks to executive chef Ryan Kline.
“We do a lot of those,” he says. “Sometimes we might have tails or trotters, but usually it’s ears. There’s always an offal thing on the menu.”
Dry Ridge Farm supplies Asheville locals and restaurants with eggs aplenty
At Dry Ridge Farm, there’s no doubt which came first: It was the chicken.
When Wendy and Graham Brugh bought land in Mars Hill in 2011, their goal was to start an operation that could quickly get product to local farmers markets. So they bought 150 laying hens, and by spring 2012, they were selling their eggs at the East Asheville Tailgate Market, the Oakley Farmers Market and ASAP’s Asheville City Market South in Biltmore Village (the latter two are no longer in operation).
Front of House
At Your Service
Bass player Jesse Gentry gets in the groove at Carmel’s
Before he arrives at Carmel’s Kitchen & Bar at 10:30 a.m. for a full shift on his feet, Jesse Gentry has been on a 3-mile run. And then he goes to the gym. When he gets to work, he’s revved up and ready to roll.
“I’m a physically active person and I like doing physical things when I get to work — set up the drink station, brew coffee and tea, mop the floor. It’s kind of a joke at the restaurant, but I do have a passion for mopping,” Gentry says.
He has a deeper passion for music, which is what brought him to Asheville in 2010.
Sign-up below to get AIRfare in your inbox.
Read the April 2023 AIRfare featuring chef Brian Crow of Chestnut and Corner Kitchen, pommes frites from Bouchon and Rendezvous, and ciders from Botanist & Barrel.
Read the March 2023 AIRfare featuring chef/owner Mike McCarty of The Lobster Trap, Sunny Point garden manager Alice Oglesby, and Luella’s BBQ’s popular sauces.
Read the February 2023 AIRfare featuring chocolatier Julie Williams of The Chocolate Fetish, setting the stage for romance at Zambra, and chef and grower Evan Chender of The Culinary Gardener.
Read the January 2023 AIRfare featuring Buxton Hall BBQ chef Nick Barr, City Bakery’s artisan breads, and Pulp & Sprout’s juice press machine.