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10+ local cookbooks from Asheville authors

Feeling hungry? We’re highlighting a few local authors who have set their favorite recipes down on the page.

Ashleigh Shanti is bringing her “Top Chef,” James Beard finalist, restaurateur expertise to the page.

Photo via @foodordeath_

Table of Contents

We all know that Asheville has a fabulous food scene — but we’re also super fortunate that some of our best chefs + foodies have written their own cookbooks.

Whether you prefer to eat fresh seasonal produce or treat yourself to a plate piled high with biscuits and smoked meats, there’s a local cookbook to instruct + inspire you to get in your kitchen and whip up something delicious. You can find all of these books online or at your favorite local bookstores.

Here are a few options that make our mouths water.

“Our South: Black Food Through My Lens,” Ashleigh Shanti

Just yesterday, May 7, the chef and owner of Good Hot Fish announced her upcoming cookbook. It will explore Black influence on the South’s foodways and cultures, covering five regions — from the mountainous Backcountry to the coastal Lowcountry. Try your hand at dishes like Fish Camp Hush Puppies and benne seed-topped crab toasts while you dive into the food’s origins. Pre-order now for the publication of “Our South” on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

Chef William Dissen wears an apron and stands in a kitchen in front of fruits and vegetables.

Chef William Dissen will be joined by photographer Johnny Autry + author Ronni Lundy for the panel on May 15.

Photo by Johnny Autry

“Thoughtful Cooking: Recipes Rooted in the New South,” William Dissen

The chef and owner of The Market Place started his culinary career in his grandmother’s kitchen — and his debut cookbook reimagines and reinvents the traditional recipes born between those walls. Tomato sandwiches, cornmeal-fried catfish, braised beef shortribs, and many other Southern-inspired dishes are imbued with new life and flavor on these pages. Bonus: Dissen will be kicking off his book tour next week. Register for the “Thoughtful Cooking” Panel at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe on Wednesday, May 15.

“Southern From Scratch: Pantry Essentials and Down-Home Recipes,” Ashley English

The basis for being able to cook effectively at home is a well-stocked pantry, and this cookbook from local entertaining expert Ashley English offers 50 recipes to help you build one, including all kinds of relishes, sauces + condiments with in-depth tutorials on basics like stocks, pimento cheese, and pickles. From there, you’ll find 100 additional recipes using ingredients from said pantry, like watermelon rind sloppy joes, brown butter and bourbon-braised cabbage, and curried pork chop sandwiches with peach chutney.

“The Southern Harvest Cookbook: Recipes Celebrating Four Seasons,” Cathy Cleary

The Southern garden is a beautiful thing, and one need look no further than this cookbook from Cathy Cleary (who opened West End Bakery in 2001 and sold it in 2015) for inspiration on how to best utilize both the common + unusual fruits and veggies that grow here in each season. You’ll find classic regional fare, like squash casserole and collard greens, as well as more innovative offerings like pickled cherries, paw paw salsa, deviled egg asparagus salad, and ramp + ricotta biscuits. Bonus: There are also great tips for reducing food waste.

Curate cookbook open to Stewed Peppers, Eggplant, Tomato, and Onions on a kitchen counter with a spoon and shallots.

It isn’t hard to bring the taste of Cúrate into your kitchen.

Photo by AVLtoday

“Cúrate: Authentic Spanish Food from an American Kitchen,” Katie Button

No passport? No problem. Bring the taste of Spain into your home with James Beard Award-nominated Chef Katie Button’s first cookbook. Featuring 125 classic recipes like paella (a savory blend of rice, veggies, and seafood), arroz a la Cubana (garlic rice with banana and fried egg), patatas bravas (fried potatoes), and berenjenas con miel (fried eggplant with honey + rosemary), it’s a richly flavored, accessible ode to Spanish fare. Bonus: The majority of Button’s recipes use ingredients easily found in local stores.

“The Folk School Cookbook: A Collection of Seasonal Favorites from John C. Campbell Folk School,” Nanette Davidson

John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown (about two hours away) is renowned for its campus, class offerings, and hands-on teaching. Its dining hall also cranks out delectable eats, many of which are included here. The book highlights seasonal ingredients that reflect the diversity of both the region and the school’s student body. From pulled-pork BBQ and gazpacho to lemon bars and marmalade pork chops, the 250+ recipes are the opposite of the sad bricks of ramen you subsisted on during your college days.

“Biscuit Head: New Southern Biscuits, Breakfasts, and Brunch,” Jason and Carolyn Roy

Anyone who’s ever been to the original Biscuit Head in West Asheville knows there’s no escaping the line that snakes around the building — that is unless you have this cookbook. Inside, you’ll find their famous cathead biscuits as well as other dishes, including mimosa fried chicken with sweet potato chai butter and sriracha slaw, fried green tomatoes with chevre, quinoa scramble, and a slew of gravies + jams, including hearty sausage and their heavenly amaretto marmalade. Try not to drink it straight, but we won’t judge you if you do.

Victuals cookbook held in hand in front of large green bush.

You can stop by Ronni Lundy’s Plott Hound Books up in Burnsville — which is where City Editor Molly got her copy signed.

Photo by AVLtoday

“Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes,” Ronni Lundy

Penned by Southern Foodways Alliance founding member Ronni Lundy, “Victuals” took home two James Beard awards in 2017: the James Beard Foundation Book of the Year Award and Best Book, American Cooking — and for good reason. This homage to Appalachia examines issues of class and race as they relate to Appalachian foods and foodways so we can move toward an egalitarian future. Plus, it offers 80 recipes, including kale potato pancakes, banana pudding, apple stack cake, and the only cornbread City Editor Molly has ever had that can hold a candle to her granny’s.

“Buxton Hall Barbecue’s Book of Smoke: Wood-Smoked Meat, Sides, and More,” Elliott Moss

Elliott Moss, formerly of the now-closed Buxton Hall Barbecue, has put his genius to paper so that the rest of us can replicate the deliciousness at home. Want to build and master your own pit at home? This book explains how — if you don’t have the time or space, you can still easily infuse wood-smoked goodness into the chicken, beef, and pork cuts of your choice. Its 200+ recipes include chicken bog (a customizable dish of rice, chicken + sausage), sauces galore, and both the fried chicken sandwich and the pimento cheese that made it so good.

“Appalachian Appetite: Recipes from the Heart of America,” Susi Gott Séguret

This cookbook is what happens when you take a WNC native, author, and chef and add in fancy French training and credentials from the Cordon Bleu and the Université de Reims. Featuring stories and tidbits from food and drink pros throughout Appalachia, the 100+ recipes in this book highlight the upscale twist given to humble ingredients through offerings like ramp and nettle quiche, venison country-style steak, Southern sweet potato praline spoonbread, mountain trout, and even possum pâté.

“Breakfast & Beyond: Comfort Food From Dawn to Dark,” April Moon

Since opening its doors in 2003, Sunny Point Café has become an Asheville institution, attracting both locals + visitors with its garden-to-table Southern fare, many of which feature its flaky biscuits. You’ll find many of those dishes here, as well as some from Moon’s first cookbook based on her 13 years at Atlanta’s popular Flying Biscuit Café, including smoked salmon scramble, stuffed French toast, black bean cakes, roasted poblano pesto pasta, caramelized onion raspberry barbecue chicken, double chocolate cookies, and those enormous biscuits. Bonus: It’s all written in Moon’s charming, friendly style.

Any cool local cookbooks we missed? Let us know your other local picks.

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