By Katie Benfield
Over Yonder, a destination restaurant and bar in Valle Crucis, presents the Rising Chefs of Appalachia Pop-Up Series, starting with their first ever featured chef this Wednesday, February 1 at 6:30 p.m. Over Yonder is offering its restaurant and kitchen to these chefs in order to provide them with experience and a venue through which they can put their talents to great use.
“They plan their own menu, choose their style, pick out their plate ware and décor,” Executive Chef Andrew Long of Over Yonder said. “It’s a chance for them to get experience doing this kind of thing and get their name out there.”
It also benefits Over Yonder, which strives to bring attention to the historic Appalachian cuisine, while also bringing the community together.
“The set-up is very much going to be a community style dinner,” Chef Long said. “Since Over Yonder only has four rooms for everyone to be seated to eat, it’s going to definitely be family style and bring the community in together, and that’s kind of the whole point.”
Over Yonder is offering discounts to those who are involved in the food and beverage industry, which has gotten a lot of positive feedback, so quite a few people are expected to be there.
Wednesday’s chef, Chef Thomas Butler of the New Public House, brings a unique, vegetarian menu to the first event in the series.
“He told me that he wanted to start eating healthier, so he suggested a vegetarian-themed menu,” Chef Long said. “So, we found what vegetables we could get locally in the winter, and he built the menu from that.”
Chef Butler’s menu consists of three main courses and a couple of other samplings, all gluten-free, ranging from loaded potato bites to cherry flourless tortes. However, writing a delicious menu isn’t the only thing that Chef Butler had to focus on.
“It’s way more than just writing a good menu,” Chef Long said. “It’s about learning. You have to come up with a plan, a shopping list, pricing, and it will all help him later on down the road.”
When Chef Long chooses a featured chef for the series, he has a couple of conditions. The first one is that the chefs featured are not in charge of their own kitchens elsewhere, so that this can be a learning experience for them. The second is that they come up with a themed dinner menu.
“Themed dinner menus just play better,” Chef Long said, “And that’s what they’re definitely going to be doing.”
The events in the series will, as Chef Long hopes, be happening at least a couple of times a month, although the schedule is up in the air currently.
“We are going to try and do it every Wednesday, or every other Wednesday,” Chef Long said. “We aren’t going to do it every week, so I’m not sure it’s going to be an exact regular schedule.”
However, this Wednesday and the Wednesday following, the community can expect featured chefs at Over Yonder, and the programming seems to be exactly what is needed to promote and bring the community together.
When one arrives for the event, they will be greeted with snacks and drinks and then will be seated for the dinner. Chef Long will come out and explain the menu to the guests, so they will know what to expect. Once dinner is over, the featured chef will come out and tell the guests what his or her thought process was when building the menu and the style of the dinner.
“Each one of these dinners is going to be very different from one another and different from what we do at Over Yonder,” Chef Long said. “I’m very excited. I don’t know if I’m going to eat or work. I just haven’t decided yet.”
The price for the dinner is $45 for the general public and $30 for folks who work in the food and beverage industry.
For more information about the menu for Wednesday, Feb. 1, please see it on the website.
For more information about the event or other general questions, please call 828-963-6301.