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What is your favorite part about being a restaurateur in Asheville.
Joe: I love the collaboration that exists here. It’s not a competition, but we are kept “on our toes” by the high level of food, from source to plate, that exists here. It is hard to get a bad meal at an Asheville Independent Restaurant.
Kevin: I like being part of the AIR restaurant community, and that restaurants are so central to the identity of Asheville as a destination. Having over a hundred restaurants, pulling in much the same direction to protect the authenticity of food here is not happening anywhere else in the country.
What is the background of your restaurant’s name?
Corner Kitchen was the only name that all the principals could agree upon, so it was a “default’ name. The house is on a corner, so that fit, and the word kitchen evokes a warmth and feeling of home that works well in the little house at 3 Boston Way. Chestnut was a winner from the start; it has four meanings that are relevant to us. 1. Chestnuts were a food source to Native Americans. 2. It is a color. 3. It is an extinct but romantic and valuable type of wood. (The American Chestnut Foundation, devoted to resurrecting the American chestnut is based here in Asheville.) 4. It is an old song or story, often told and referred to as “That old Chestnut”.
What ingredient could you not live without?
Joe: Olive Oil
Kevin: Butter – salted. Being the non-chef side of our partnership, I use butter on finished dishes, not in the making of them. So, salted butter on biscuits, for instance, is one of my favorite things. But I can, and will, eat butter on almost anything.
What is your favorite dish on your menu?
Joe: I love seafood in all its many types, styles, and flavors. That’s a hard one as our menu changes so much. I most often eat the Pesto Shrimp Salad at Chestnut for lunch-Gluten Free, lot’s of veggies and amazing flavors!
Kevin: I love the trout dish at both restaurants. If I come in for dinner and have a hard time deciding what to eat, I will many times fall back to the trout. At Corner Kitchen, the trout dish has been on the menu for over 12 years and remains a favorite. It’s local and it is delicious.
What is your favorite dish from a fellow AIR restaurant’s menu?
Joe: Ramen noodles form Gan Shan Station.
Kevin: In a counter service restaurant, the Habanero and Hickory Round with Pork Sausage at Green Sage. In a full-service restaurant, the Tandoori Fish Tacos at Chai Pani are amazing.
Why did you choose Asheville to open your restaurant?
Joe: It is my chosen home, where else would I want to be successful?
Kevin: I grew up here and always loved it, even when I was living elsewhere. Being able to open a place a couple of blocks from my house was pure kismet.
What is your favorite chef’s tool and why?
Joe: Hands down, the Japanese madoline. Versatile, highly portable and inexpensive.
Kevin: I know this is one of Joe’s as well. A spatula. But it has to be the right spatula for me. Thin edge with just the right flexibility. When you are cooking eggs and find the right spatula, you will know it.