ASAP likes to share the stories of people who are contributing to the local food system. As part of our Restaurant Worker Appreciation Month at Buncombe County farmers markets, we’re talking to Jake Beaver, who has worked as a line cook at several Asheville restaurants, including Nightbell and Cultura. He’ll be working for Table Right Here when it reopens on North Lexington Ave. this fall. He’s pictured, left, during a farm dinner at Ivy Creek Family Farm.
Why is shopping at farmers markets important to you?
It’s important to support our local farmers as well as create a dialogue and a relationship with the people who grow our food. It’s so easy to forget where our food comes from. I like to put a face and a name to the products that I buy.
What fall farmers market products are you most excited about (or most looking forward to) right now? What do you like to do with them?
I’m looking forward to preserving the last of the summer produce before it’s all gone.Lee’s One Fortune Farm has a lot of cool things right now. Their rice yields the best results for growing koji [mold used in a type of Japanese fermentation]. It seriously smells like juicy fruit. Really looking forward to their sweet potatoes when they are ready.
How does a connection with farmers markets and local food inform your professional kitchen work?
Having a connection with farmers and the markets is so important to the planning of our menus in a restaurant. We have to constantly be aware of what is coming in and out of season so that we are utilizing products at their peak and being sure to preserve things going out of season so that they can be used throughout the year.
How are you surviving in COVID-19 times? Are there things you want the dining community to know about supporting and visiting restaurants right now?
I’ve been luckier than most in that I’ve stayed employed full time throughout the pandemic. That isn’t to say that it hasn’t had its challenges. I want people to know that we are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of everyone that is still choosing to eat out during these times. The restaurant industry has been hit harder than most during this pandemic. With the winter months slowly creeping up on us, we are going to be relying on locals more than ever to help keep us afloat. I would encourage everyone to support local restaurants in whatever way they feel comfortable—whether that be through gift cards, take out, or dining in.