The Chow Chow Food + Culture Festival lays a sophisticated smackdown on any hillbilly stereotypes you might have about rural Southern cuisine. The fest gets its name from chow chow, a pickled relish (mashed and spiced) native to Southern Appalachia, and dedicates three days to the people and stories behind the region’s underappreciated food culture.
This year the Asheville food and culinary event is getting a reboot, too. Previously known as the Chow Chow Culinary Festival, this year’s Chow Chow Food + Culture Festival not only has a new name, but also new dates (Sept 7-10) and a new venue (heart of downtown). While the fest spanned multiple weekends last summer, this fall the Chow Chow calendar will be more compact.
Thursday night kicks off with Southeastern BBQ and bluegrass with curatorial commentary from food historian Adrian Miller. The festival prides itself on events that not only focus on food, but the many communities, histories, and cultures from which Appalachian cooking springs (read more about that here). Previous years have included paella cook-offs, drag brunches and historical tours, as well as discussions focused on social justice, climate change, and food insecurity.
In addition to talks, panels, and demonstrations, you can feast like an upscale-Costco sample queen at the Tasting Bazaar (we’re talking about tasting events!), where local food businesses offer dozens of small bites and drinks, then stroll through an adjacent maker market. Each tiny plastic cup of wine makes you all the more likely to buy the expensive minimalist tableware.
- In 2019, 3,000 food lovers attended the inaugural festival. (Last year, the count was 4,500, but across three different summer weekends).
- Full weekend passes (Friday-Sunday) are $450, single day passes are $175.
- Looking for other things to do in Asheville, North Carolina? Check out Fifty Grande’s guide here.
Where will the festival be held?
Chow Chow is set for Pack Square Park in downtown Asheville.
What’s the best way to get to and from Chow Chow 2023?
Asheville has a regional airport (AVL), with public buses running to and from downtown (take the S3 route, which runs daily every hour and a half 7:30am-4:40pm). Many hotels also provide free shuttles. Most Chow Chow 2023 events will be held at Pack Square Park, a historic green space in Downtown Asheville.
Can I bring my kid nephew?
You’ll need to find a babysitter and/or petsitter for the weekend—all events are 21+.
What if I’m local? Can I stop by for free? Do they offer low-cost tickets?
Seems like yes. Even if you don’t have a day or weekend pass, the maker marketplace will be open to the public. Other events and performances may offer separate tickets at the door. Sunday’s events are open for free, with a suggested donation of $75-$200.
Who will be there?
Celebrated Asheville chefs, community leaders, and up-and-coming foodie hot-shots. James Beard Award–winners Katie Button (of Cúrate Bar de Tapas and La Bodega) and Meherwan Irani (of Chai Pani and Spicewalla). Speakers are still being added, and at the time of this article, the full schedule has yet to be released.
Who runs the festival?
Chow Chow is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization committed to celebrating and enriching the foodways of Southern Appalachia and Asheville’s creative economy. It’s executive director is Melissa Scheiderer.
I’m looking for dog breeds wall calendars. What gives?
You’re in the wrong spot, friend. This Chow Chow is a food festival and has nothing to do with dog breeds, the wall calendar you may have purchased on Amazon, any notifications regarding anything related to dogs or Amazon’s checkout process.
Who will be there?
Celebrated Asheville chefs, community leaders, and up-and-coming foodie hot-shots. Including speakers and presenters James Beard Award–winners Katie Button (of Cúrate Bar de Tapas and La Bodega) and Meherwan Irani (of Chai Pani and Spicewalla), as well as, James Beard Award-winning food writer and historian, Adrian Miller, Adrian Parra, Alan Muskat, Amie Fields, Andrew Zinn, Anne Grier, Bill Smith, Bob Shipley, Brad Spivey, Brent Manning, Camille Cogswell, Chad Blackwelder, Chris Smith, CJ Lotz, Darren Fallon, Debra Freeman, Diane Flynt, Dorian Hunter, Elizabeth Cox, Gab Bonfiglio, Greg Collier, Gwendolyn Hageman, Jenny Dissen, Jeremiah Robinson, Jessica Weisman, John Fleer, Keith Rhodes, Kelly McCaskill, Laura Legnick, Laura Stevens, Luis Martinez, Matt Rodbard, Melissa Katrincic, Michelle Bailey, Preeti Waas, Ricky Moore, Samantha Coffin, Santiago Vargas, Sera Cuni, Sheri Castle, Sonia Chopra, Steve Palmer, Steven Goff, Stu Helm, Todd Boera, Travis Milton, William Dissen, William Goldberg, and Wren Lizabeth.
For culinary and beverage, Amanda Delgado, Amie Fields, Andrew Zinn, Ashley Haywood, Avery Cottrell, Ben Colvin, Ben Kreuger, Benjamin Hester, Bert Sheffiled, Beth Kellerhals, Blair Machado, Brandon Carter, Brandon Shepard, Brent Manning, Camille Cogswell, Camillya Masunda, Cary Thorup, Cecilia Marchesini, Chris Zeiber, Christian Barroso, Cleophus Hethington, Collyn McDonald, Jess & Craw, Daniel Coker, Darren Fallon, Davis Taylor, Dean Neff, Diane Flynt, Dorian Hunter, Eleanor Sturm, Eric Burleson, Erica Beneke and Matt Farr, Félix Meana, Gab Bonfiglio, Gary McDermott, Graham House, Greg Collier, Gwendolyn Hageman, Jael Skeffington, Jake Whitman, James O’Hern, Jamie Davis, Jeff Miller, Jessie Dean, Jill Wasilewski, James Joe Lewis, John Clowney, John Fleer, John Wilson, Josiah McGaughey, Josie Mielke, Kala Brooks, Kat Savage, Katie Button, Katie Fiore, Keith Rhodes, Laura and Brian Smith, Lauren Turpin, Alexis Walton, Lisa Vann, Lynn Wells, Malcolm McMillan, Mallory Foster, Marta Plana, Masatomo “Masa” Hamaya (O-Ku), Matt Weinstein, Matthew Dorough, Meg Montgomery, Meherwan Irani, Melissa Katrincic, Michelle Bailey, Mike McCarty, Miles MacQuarrie, Nancie McDermott, Nick Barr, Oscar Johnson, Paul Jonathan Pike, Peter Crockett, Peter Pollay, Preeti Waas, Ramona Young, Reyaña Radcliff, Ricky Moore, Robin Stevens, Roux Toner, Sahar Siddiqi, Samantha Coffin, Santiago Guzzetti, Sara Delaney, Scot Davidson, Sean McMullin, Sera Cuni, Sergio Castro, Shannon Healy, Shannon McGaughey, Shanti Volpe, Simone Jaramillo, Smasheville, Spring Council, Steven Goff, Sujitra “May” Chubthaisong, Sunil Patel, Tie Whittaker, Todd Boera, Tom Leiner, Travis Milton, Tyler Sade, Victoria Roenigk, Virginia Willis, Vivian Lee, William Goldberg, Wren Lizabeth, and Yunanda Wilson.