Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on February 12, 2024.
Asheville‘s Chow Chow Culinary Festival (2019, 2021-2023) brought award-winning chefs from North Carolina and beyond to join the biggest and best of Asheville’s restaurant scene. Featured events included farm dinners, tours and brunches, chef demonstrations, tastings, and more.
In 2024, the non-profit behind the festival announced that it would permanently shut down.
We are sad to see Chow Chow go away, but we hope its memory will live in this post. This article details the former festival, including when, where, what, and anything else you need to know about Chow Chow.
When was the Chow Chow Culinary Festival?
Chow Chow Culinary Festival (a.k.a. the Asheville Food and Wine Festival) was an incredible Asheville event that ran in September. The first Chow Chow took place in 2019 and we were excited to be on the scene as “Media.”
The COVID pandemic led to Chow Chow’s cancellation in 2020 and reimagining in 2021 and 2022 as a multi-month event.
Chow Chow 2023 condensed the event’s calendar to resemble the first year, with events largely held in Pack Square Pack and venues throughout downtown Asheville. Unfortunately, event organizers came to the decision to shutter Chow Chow in 2024.
What Was Chow Chow?
Chow Chow’s concept was to embody inclusivity, not just for the Asheville community. Event admissions range from free to high-end, luxury experiences.
Tickets were sold a la carte, making Chow Chow Asheville more accessible to the community. The event highlighted all aspects of the culinary supply chain, including farmers, mixologists, chefs, brewers, bakers, artists, writers, and potters.
The festival invited James Beard Award-winning chefs such as Meherwan Irani and Katie Button, along with multi-generational farmers and local potters like East Fork’s Connie Matisse.
Through this, Chow Chow perfectly mixed Appalachia with the various ethnic backgrounds that have shaped Asheville and North Carolina into the melting pot we know today.
Chow Chow and Community Impact
The Chow Chow Culinary Festival was a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. By purchasing tickets, event-goers supported the overall mission to enrich the Southern Appalachian region.
Typically for a food festival, the majority of the ticket costs cover hosting the event, but Chow Chow Festival believed in food for thought. Event runners believed that tough conversations are best had around a great plate of food and built a gathering for eating and building a better future.
To take their mission a step further, 95% of all festival expenses were re-invested into the community. This was done by supporting and utilizing local event production companies, event staffing, recycling and waste, marketing, and so much more. It doesn’t get more local yall!
Will You Also Miss Chow Chow Culinary Festival?
The Chow Chow food culture festival was perfect for anyone who loved culinary adventures, happened to be in Asheville, willing to travel there, or all of the above.
The multi-day immersive experience brought makers together like a complex meal to invigorate your taste buds and spark your creativity.
All this for a great cause makes this a must-visit event in one of our favorite spots in North Carolina’s mountains. Hopefully, a similar event will replace this one and continue the traditions established by Chow Chow during its run.
If you ever attended Chow Chow during its run, we’d love to hear from you. Let us know in the comments and share your memories with us and our readers.
More Things to Do in Asheville
While we’re sad to see the Chow Chow Culinary Festival go, there are still some amazing things to do in Asheville, Here are a few NC Travel Guides that highlight them.