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Small Bites for a Big Change: Friendly Competition Among Local Chefs Highlights F.A.R.M. Café Fundraiser, September 15

By Sherrie Norris 

Local Chefs. Local Ingredients. Local impact. That’s what it’s all about, but throw in a little friendly competition among those chefs and you’ve got the perfect recipe for one of the most innovative fundraisers ever held in Boone. 

Everyone loves good food and helping a good cause, so plan today to be part of the upcoming Small Bites for a Big Change to benefit F.A.R.M. Café on Thursday, Sept. 15 at the NC Cooperative Extension in Boone. 

And, if that’s not enough to whet your appetite, you get to help judge!

That’s right. Ticket holders will ultimately help decide who will be named the Small Bites Champion for 2022!

It might sound easy, but when you consider just who those chefs are — and the local food establishments they represent — then you will begin to realize that it might not be quite so simple, after all. 

The teams/competitors include: The Cardinal Boone, Over Yonder, Chef Adam Cole, Cafe Violette, Reid’s Cafe & Catering Co., Booneshine, Vidalia, The Gamekeeper, Chef Ambrose Young, & Black Cat Burrito.

Yes, folks, the heat is on as these competitors each prepare one tapas style “small bite” to be tasted by attendees and three celebrity judges: Renee Boughman, Executive Director and Chef FARM Café, Tim Futrelle, Town of Boone Mayor and Kristi Maier, Food Blogger, Triad Foodies. 

What’s more, this unique competition will highlight the individual skills of each chef/team and his or her interpretation of “Appalachian Cuisine,” while encouraged to utilize local, High Country-grown ingredients in their small bite. There is an additional requirement, however, and that is the inclusion of one mystery ingredient, which will be revealed to the chefs prior to the event. Winners will be announced following the final round of tastings.

Several of the chefs were asked why they have chosen to participate in Small Bites for a Big Cause, and this is what they had to say: 

“I’ve admired FARM Cafe since my mom sent an article about the opening while I was living in Los Angeles. I was so impressed, plus it’s in one of my favorite places from growing up —the old Boone Drug Store. I’ve been in the restaurant business a long time and fine dining can be so inaccessible. I appreciate that FARM is about providing equal access of good food to everyone.  I’m inspired by the business model and want to support it anyway I can.”  – Chef Adam Cole

“Because it’s fun!  It’s a way to promote business, plus it’s a great community event and opportunity to see other people in the business and network.” – Chef Haley Phan, The Gamekeeper

“We chose to participate because the event is community based for a local cause. We look forward to building friendships with other chefs. As chefs, we enjoy this type of friendly competition.. And there is not another event like this in the area.  We opened at the beginning of the pandemic in  2020, so we haven’t had the opportunity to participate in any community building events.” -Chef Kyle Martin, Cafe Violette 

“One of our guiding principles is supporting the community. We want to make sure the Farm Cafe can keep going. And Renee can ask us to do anything and we’ll do it. Whatever Renee wants!” – Scott Williford, Co-Owner, The Cardinal Boone 

And most importantly, perhaps, and adding to the excitement —not only do ticket holders get to taste and judge every entry, but they will be supporting an amazing cause, as the chefs referred to above. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, but as a ticket holder, your investment will last long after the last small bite is consumed.

F.A.R.M. (Feed All Regardless of Means) Cafe is North Carolina’s first donate-what-you-can community cafe. Located right here on King Street in Boone, this amazing eatery has garnered lots of attention from across the state and beyond in its 10 years of service to the community.

It’s mission is simple, but has a huge impact upon the lives of many every single day — to build a healthy and inclusive community by providing high quality, delicious meals produced from local sources, whenever possible, in a restaurant where everybody eats, regardless of means. 

According to Renee Boughman, Executive Director of F.A.R.M. Café, “We serve an average of 1400 meals per month with up to 40 percent given for less than the suggested donation, in exchange for volunteer time, or through our pay-it-forward token program.” 

To date, in 2022 alone, 6,132 meals have been served, with many opportunities available on a daily basis for the community to jump in and help.

Pre-sale tickets for the upcoming event range from $40-$50. A limited number of first come first, serve tickets will be available on a donate-what-you-can basis at the door, with suggested amounts ranging from $20-$50 per ticket.

Ticket times are staggered, with a maximum of 30-40 available per half hour between 4:30 and 7:30.  Judging begins at 6 p.m. 

Covid-19 protocols will be in place as the event will be adequately spaced out to reduce the risk of possible transmission among attendees. Masks are not required, but the event is mask-friendly.

 To reserve a specific time slot, presale purchase is recommended. 

FARM Cafe would like to acknowledge the contributions of Rick Todd of H&T Chair Co., Doreen Day Holloway Chiropractic, Cliff Elder and M-Prints. Thanks to their generous sponsorship of the event, each competing team has been offered a  $100 High Country Food Hub gift certificate. 

Learn more about the organization by visiting its website at www.farmcafe.org.

NC Cooperative Extension is located at the Watauga County Center,

971 West King Street in Boone. Ticket holders are invited to park in the Agricultural Conference Center Parking lot. Once full, street parking downtown is recommended and free after 5 p.m.