The Transylvania Times -

'Taste' To Serve Up Food, Drink Showcase


Last updated 5/3/2021 at 2:26pm

Traditionally, the Taste of Transylvania serves up a good-natured culinary competition for patrons ready to sample and vote as part of a festive Tuesday evening.

This year, however, to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, the Taste has been reimagined as a week-long showcase of the local food and drink scene in Transylvania County.

“It is exciting to see the Taste reinvented in a way that supports even more local businesses, while benefiting our foundation and ultimately public education in Transylvania County,” said Transylvania County Schools Education Foundation (TCSEF) Board Chair Shannon Allison of this year’s event held May 4 through 9. “With a week-long event and a variety of participating restaurants, food trucks and breweries, we are looking forward to more participation in Taste than ever before. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, and desserts at a variety of price points allow anyone to participate - as many times as one can.”

April 26 marked the Taste’s official launch date, according to TCSEF’s Executive Director, Geraldine Dinkins. Vinyl clings with event details and donation information will begin appearing on participating establishment’s doors and local real estate offices will display a selection of the Taste’s online silent auction items, more information can be found at “Think Mother’s Day,” Dinkins said. “Any mother will like to know that bid for her gift and gave to public education.”

New this year, breweries, wine shops, food trucks, breakfast spots, coffee shops and wine shops and bars are part of the event and participating establishments do not have to serve up specials, just pleasurable food and drink, after picking a contribution option – from giving a percentage of sales to placing a tip jar by the register.

Keavy McAbee, owner of Wolfbrew Bottle Shop in downtown Brevard, is an early, enthusiastic adopter of the new Taste format.

“Reimagining the event this year to support local businesses, while also still supporting our schools exemplifies what our community is all about,” she said. “As a craft beer shop, Wolfbrew is glad that the vibrant beer scene in our region will be a part of this year's programming.”

A list of participants with links can be found on the TCSEF website.

“We are looking to put together a truly representative complement of Transylvania County food and beverage scene,” Dinkins said.

This year’s participation is the easiest it has ever been for restaurant owners, who haven’t been able to cater past Taste’s competitions.

“We will work hard to drive traffic and start the season strong, but in a format that will not unnecessarily endanger folks in time of a pandemic,” she said.

Meadows-Allison and Dinkins will visit a sample of participants during the Taste’s week highlighting them via Facebook broadcasts.

Aside from eating out, ordering takeout or having a drink, locals and visitors can also make direct donations – tips, really – from their phone to commemorate a great dining or drinking experience.

Restaurants and breweries that have signed on early, include the Cedar Mountain Cafe, Wolfbrew Bottle Shop, Oskar Blues Brewery and Oskar Blues Chubwagon, as well as Sully’s Steamers.

Beverly-Hanks & Associates Realtors, Looking Glass Realty and Sandra Purcell & Associates Realtors are donating window space for auction items to go on view.

First Citizens Bank generously underwrote the platform that will take the silent auction online, which allows bids from anywhere.

“I’m very excited that we are able to run our silent auction online,” said Dinkins. “It allows us to brag on our local artists, musicians, hobbyist, crafters, as well as businesses to people who may be new to the area, live here part-time or are just thinking about living here.”

She is inviting anyone with a silent auction item idea to get in touch.

“The more variety, the more successful the silent auction will be,” she said. “We want to feature anything from weekend getaways to hand-built birdhouses to crocheted potholders. Each gift certificate for a class or service will help us.”

Dinkins stressed that no good deed will go unnoticed and the event team will credit all contributors on social media, as well as in the online auction gallery.

“This your pitch for your business or side gig,” Dinkins said.

The auction will be live the week of the Taste.

Teasers of auction items have already started popping up and can be found under the hashtag #tasteoftransylvania.

So far, gift baskets have been contributed by PLATT HOME and 3Oak Handcrafted and several pieces by local ceramic artist Margaret Kimble are included in the auction.

Headwaters Outfitters has donated a guided fly-fishing trip and local educators pitching in with their talents, as well, from music lessons to yoga classes.

If nothing in the auction checks the box, people can always support TSCEF by making a donation in any amount via the website or by texting “TCSEF” to 76278.

Taste proceeds go to several TCSEF programs, such as the Creative Classroom Grants program, which awards grants for creative classroom solutions, teaching tools and classroom projects that the school budget can’t meet.

Past Taste events have raised $20,000 to $25,000 and helped more than 30 grantees annually, for funding of a few hundred dollars for a field trip or a hanging hydrophobic garden to $2,500 for a 3-D Printers, Glowforge or a new freezer for 4H.

“I’ve watched the Creative Classroom Grants program grow over the years to support everything from moonshot projects to the last-dollars-needed for a teacher's best idea that just didn't fit the budget,” said Kevin Smith, TCS’ schools-community relations coordinator. “Nothing hits as close to home as these grants, driven entirely by the love of our neighbors, who see TCS students and teachers out in their community every day.”

For more information on the Taste, visit where donations can be made, as well.

To participate as food or beverage establishment or make a silent auction contribution, contact Dinkins at [email protected]


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