Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Chef Adam Hayes, James Beard and a North Carolina Farmer – What do these have in common? Dinner in NYC of course!

I was honored to be invited to the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Biltmore Village to experience a recreation of the dinner that Chef Adam Hayes created for the James Beard House a few weeks ago.  Chef Adam has been an involved member of the culinary scene since arriving in Asheville in 2009.  After experiencing this dinner I am impressed with his growth and depth of knowledge of local farms and products.  The dinner was outstanding but I am getting way ahead of myself.

Chef Adam Hayes and his culinary team in the James Beard House Kitchen
(Photo courtesy of the Kessler Collection)
First, the James Beard Foundation is a non-profit organization that promotes, educates, facilitates and awards the food and beverage industry and its professionals.  Receiving an invitation to prepare a dinner at the James Beard House is a great honor in the culinary world – one that many chefs never experience.  The fact that Chef Adam was invited to do just that is incredible for him but also for Asheville!  To find out more about the James Beard Foundation, James Beard House and a little about the man himself - click here.

Black Forest Wine Room in the Red Stag where the James Beard Dinner was recreated for us.
(Photo courtesy of the Kessler Collection)
Second, Adam Hayes is one of Asheville’s culinary treasures.  As I mentioned, he has been very active in the culinary scene since arriving in town.  He was born in Randolph County, North Carolina (and has the accent to prove it!).  After attending Guilford Technical Community College, he moved to Charlotte, NC becoming a chef for the Harper’s Restaurant Group working at three of the Group’s locations.  Chef Adam made his way to Greensboro to assist the opening of Proximity Hotel as Chef of the Printworks Bistro.  Next on Adam’s path was the Quaintance Weaver Restaurants and Hotels where he continued to work with sustainable practices and obtaining local products.  He eventually found his way to Asheville in 2009 as the Executive Chef of the Grand Bohemian Hotel and the Red Stag Grill.  Each step seemed to develop and instill environmentally sustainable goods and practices to further his dedication to the culinary arts and local cuisine.

Chef Adam's buttermilk biscuits - the stuff Southern dreams are made of.
(Photo courtesy of the Kessler Collection)
Third, is that local cuisine that sets Asheville apart and Chef Hayes in particular.  Remember the song “It’s a small world after all” – that seems to be a theme when you watch Adam and his relationship with the farmers from whom he sources.  He doesn’t just buy their products, he knows them.  I don’t know if Adam ever met a stranger since he is an outgoing extrovert type of chef.  He appears to make friends easily but it’s not only that. He appears to want to understand the farmers’ motivation as well.  Of course, that all could be me reading too much into the interactions I watched but I truly believe this is the case.  It is refreshing to see a full circle relationship of a chef and farmer.  By the way, you can insert any of the following for farmer:  brewer, winemaker, distiller and etc.  The relationships are there for each one.

Chef Adam's personal size cornbread
I said all that to come to this point.  Envision a dinner where every ingredient is from North Carolina, every ingredient is local including what you drink whether it’s a cocktail, a glass of beer or wine.  Now take that and infuse some classic European culinary techniques along with some things you picked up from Mom when you were a kid.  You are coming close to what Chef Hayes prepared for us and previously for the James Beard House diners.

Can't forget the Texas Pete
From biscuits and cornbread to homemade pickles to Texas Pete (we’re not supposed to say why Adam is so fond of that but just to be a rat I’ll tell Momma Hayes to ask her boy, haha!).  Dinner was thoroughly down home yet elegant.

There is a lot about what Chef Hayes creates that is distinctly him.  The way he thinks about food is similar to a lot of chefs around Asheville except that there is an extraordinary aspect to his food as well.  I believe part of it is the teaching mentality that permeates how he talks about food and tells others about it also.  That he goes to his kids' elementary school to work with the youth and share his passion for food is revealing.  His passion seems to be more than food locally sourced but to pass that appetite on to the next generation as well.

We began the night with a toast of Biltmore Estate Blanc de Noir
(Photo courtesy of the Kessler Collection)
Hors d'Oeuvre of Fried Green Tomato and Looking Glass Creamery Goat Cheese
Hors d'Oeuvre of Ashe County Pimento Cheese, Pickled Zydeco Moon Farm Gherkin and Juusto Croutons
(Photo courtesy of the Kessler Collection)
Hors d'Oeuvre of Heritage Farms BBQ in House-Autry Mills Hush Puppies
(Photo courtesy of the Kessler Collection)
Set on the table were a few of Adam’s goodies.  Cornbread, buttermilk biscuits, house-made butter, Wiley Carter’s honey, NC Mountain Sorghum, chow chow relish, pickles and Texas Pete bottles.

(Photo courtesy of the Kessler Collection)
Dry Ridge Farms BBQ cured ham with “GOT TO BE NC” Summer Salad
Heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, micro basil, Looking Glass Ridgeline cheese, Theros extra virgin olive oil, Celtic sea salt
Cardinal Gin, House-made Watermelon Tonic, Basil Water

(Photo courtesy of the Kessler Collection)
Sunset Mountain Trout
Greene county sweet potato puree, Goldfinch Gardens late summer vegetable ragout, pea shoots, hand churned butter sauce
Chardonnay, Shelton Estate 2011, Yadkin Valley, NC

(Photo courtesy of the Kessler Collection)
Ashley Farms Fried Poulet Rouge Chicken
Lively Up Farms collard slaw, Old Mill of Guilford white corn grits, Ashe County hoop cheddar, crispy okra and pan gravy
Sweet Tea Saison, Wicked Weed, Asheville, NC

(Photo courtesy of the Kessler Collection)
Childress’ Starbound - Blueberry Port, in Sorbet

(Photo courtesy of the Kessler Collection)
Brasstown “NC” Strip Steak
Blue Ridge Cave aged gorgonzola, North Carolina heirloom tomatoes, Theros olive oil, Farm Fresh Ventures micro arugula
Claret, McRitchie “Ring of Fire” 2009, Yadkin Valley, NC

(Photo courtesy of the Kessler Collection)
“Apple Pie”
Carriage House brandied Henderson County Gala apples, sorghum glazed Heritage Farms pork belly, Troy and Sons oak reserve and honey gastrique, Imladris apple butter, lattice shortbread cookie and The Hop’s praline cream
Hard Cider, Noble 2013, Asheville, NC

October:  James Beard Month
For the rest of the month, everyone is encouraged to stop by the Red Stag Grill to experience this dinner.  10% of the proceeds will be given to the James Beard Foundation.  This is a wonderful opportunity to experience North Carolina through Adam Hayes and his team.

Contact Information
Red Stag Grill
Grand Bohemian Hotel
(828) 398-5600
11 Boston Way
Asheville, North Carolina 28803

Red Stag Grill on Urbanspoon

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