Greetings Foodtopia fans! It goes hand in and that if you are familiar with the Asheville food scene you are also familiar with one of Asheville’s best chefs; John Fleer. A main player amongst Asheville restauranteurs, John Fleer not only operates 2 of Asheville’s best establishments (Rhubarb and The Rhu) but he is also Asheville’s most nominated James Beard chef, snagging 5 nominations so far!
We love visiting Rhubarb and The Rhu on our food tours. This is not only because of the delicious food; but also because we get to learn a little bit about John as he welcomes our tours with open arms and humbly talks about his amazing restaurants and drool-worthy cuisine.
One of the many things that make Chef Fleer’s menus stand out is the homage he pays to our regional cuisine. John worked for many years as the head chef at Blackberry Farm where his goal was just that- to give a nod to southern cuisine while using fresh, quality local ingredients. Rhubarb was opened in 2013 in Asheville, with a further focus on Appalachia and all that it offers.
Fleer recognizes that it is impossible to honor southern cuisine without also paying homage to the African-American styles of cooking that have immensely influenced the area. It is this idea that is behind the opening of his new operation; Iron and Clay. Iron and Clay is set to open in fall at The Foundry, a new hotel in The Block. The Block is a historic African- American section of downtown Asheville, and we’re excited to see what’s in store for this new restaurant as Chef Fleer intends to give a nod to the culinary traditions that have taken place in this area of town for decades.
Below is an except from Citizen Times on Fleer’s concept for the new space, and the full article may be viewed here.
“Fleer, who opened Rhubarb in 2013, acknowledged that his relative newness to Asheville — and the fact that he’s a white man — makes him an imperfect voice to represent African-American culture.
The chef, who was not looking to start another project, agreed when asked to create a restaurant at The Foundry, on one condition: “If it could pay tribute and homage to the history and culture of that part of downtown. They agreed, and I’ve been slowly working on that.”
With his menu, Fleer intends to recognize the far-reaching impact of African-American cooks’ contributions to Appalachian and Southern food throughout the centuries, often appropriated and left uncredited by many a Southern-drawling celebrity chef who profited from those recipes.
Fleer does so in an area of Asheville where the demographic and culinary direction have been deeply changed by the direction of the city’s growth. “
We are always honored to visit James Beard nominated chefs like John Fleer on our High Roller food tours. Visit our website at www.eatingasheville.com for more information and to book your spot today!