Every restaurant has a particular feel, usually a preconceived ambiance. The owner wants to impress upon you…hip, funky, HIGH-CLASS, or casual.
A couple weeks ago I walked into a new Asheville establishment called Homegrown. To say the atmosphere smacked me in the face would be putting it lightly. From the moment I stepped foot in the building I felt comfort, compassion and honesty. How could I sense all this in a second’s time, you wonder? I have magic powers.
In reality, some things are hard to explain, but after sitting down with owner Miki Kilpatrick, it all became clear.
Asheville locals Greg and Miki Kilpatrick opened their first business in 2007. Their catering company, Saffron, has been serving up regional flavors for the past 4 years. Yet a bigger dream awaited; one with walls and tables of their own.
Homegrown opened its doors October 4th, 2010, serving up farm-conscious food with southern flare. Within the first week their dining area was packed and their patrons list continues to grow.
Chef Greg focuses on using only ingredients that support our community. They say it’s a philosophy that stems from a Mediterranean way of living; to cook with simple ingredients that are in-season, available, and affordable. “Our goal is to take the food the shortest distance from the farm to the table.”
Miki shared a deeper goal of helping provide a stable market for our local farmers to sell their harvest, that is, all of their harvest. She brought up the point that pesticide-free, vine-ripened produce doesn’t necessarily mean “pretty.” Being in the food industry for many years, she’s watched restaurants take only the most attractive produce, leaving farmers with excess they may have a hard time selling. Restaurants that want to have regional farms provide their food, need to consider this. Ugly tomatoes make just as tasty a sauce as flawless tomatoes! Buying local produce that is “B” quality in appearance, keeps the cost down, and still allows Homegrown to use the freshest possible ingredients. Miki wants to build a market that uses the surplus, reduces waste, and keeps farmers on their land doing what they do best.
She stated with conviction, “Homegrown will never be a profit-driven business.” Of course they want to provide for their little ones. Of course they want their restaurant to flourish, but they are driven by a greater desire to build sustainability throughout Western North Carolina.
HomeGrown's Collards and Cheezy Grits
Yield: 4-6 servings
For the Collards
- 3-4 stripes bacon, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves chopped garlic
- 2 turnips, peeled and diced
- 2 large bunches collard greens, stems removed and cut into 1 inch ribbons
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Salt and pepper
For the Cheezy Grits
- 4 cups whole milk (or fresh mozzarella whey)
- 2 Tb. butter
- 1 cup yellow grits
- 2 oz. grated Pepper Jack cheese
- Salt and Pepper
- For the Collards: Place a large pot over medium heat. Render the bacon with the onions, garlic, and turnips until the onions are translucent~ 5-8 minutes. Then add the collards and sauté another 10 minutes.
- Add the stock, bring to a boil,. Then reduce and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
- For the Cheezy Grits: Place a large pot over medium heat. Add the milk (or whey) and butter and bring to a simmer. Pour the grits in, whisking constantly to avoid clumps.
- Simmer for 10-30 minutes (depending on the type of grits) until they are smooth and tender~ stir often. Add the cheese and whisk until smooth. Salt and Pepper to taste.
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