Asheville’s beloved local food writer Stu Helm, affectionately known as “The Food Fan,” releases his “Stoobie Awards” for culinary excellence annually. For the past six years, the awards have been released on AshVegas.com, but this year Helm has decided to host a live event. “The change was inspired by increased interest in the awards and by the desire of Ashvegas editor and publisher Jason Sandford wanting to make them into a live awards show,” says Helm. This year, the Stoobie Awards have become the Asheville Food Fan Awards, which will be held on Monday, January 27, from 5–9 p.m. at The Asheville Masonic Temple.
Those in the food industry are vying for awards in 20 categories this year, including Chef of the Year, Cook of the Year, Farmer of the Year, Baker of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, Best New Restaurant, Sandwich of the Year, Burger of the Year, Food Truck of the Year, Best Front of the House, Best Sweet Treat, Best Use of Fungus and Best of Blood and Guts. While Helm will make the final decision for each award, he is taking some direction from what he calls his Eaters Academy. “They are a group of trusted friends who go out to eat a lot and have well-informed opinions about food and hospitality,” Helm says. “I am still the sole arbiter of the final awards, but the Academy will help me to find great food that I might not otherwise be aware of.” The nominees will be announced in the first three weeks of January and the winners will be announced at the event.
The Asheville Food Fan Awards are produced by Stu Helm Food Fan, Shay Brown Events and AshVegas.com. The event will feature food samples from past Stoobie winners and future hopefuls, as well as cocktails, beer, wine and hard cider. VIP tickets include early admission and time to visit with chefs and sponsors. Genera admission begins at 6 p.m. and the awards ceremony is from 7–8 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.
“I do these awards for fun and to pay my respects to the folks in the food scene,” says Helm, “and if other people think they’re fun and important, that’s great!”