Asheville’s The Gourmet Chip Company serves up worldly and decedent homemade potato chips.
Meet Neala Stuery, a pioneer in the food industry with a delicious dream.
Neala always knew she would own a business. Her father, Garry, embedded in her mind early on, that there are two kinds of people in the world, entrepreneurs and everyone else. A person either creates, or is subjected to work under someone that does. Incidentally, Garry was the first person to ever package aloe vera. Spurred by her father’s influence, Neala spent a significant amount of time developing creative business concepts. When the moment of real inspiration struck, she took hold of it and ran.
For fifteen years, Neala and her husband Adam lived in Los Angeles. One day they were out about town and needed a snack. Everywhere she looked, Neala saw the same thing, yogurt bars. Frustrated, and craving something salty, she said to Adam, “Why doesn’t anyone serve something like… homemade potato chips with really great toppings?” Adam assured her that somewhere, someone probably did. Yet the idea stuck with Neala. She couldn’t stop dreaming about the chip shop and had to know, Was there anyone doing it?
As a matter of fact, no. Not in the US, anyway. Neala discovered that a few other countries had fresh chip vendors, but no one was making homemade potato chips the way she had dreamed. After a year of stewing over the idea, Neala developed her business plan and started looking for the perfect place to open her very own homemade potato chip shop.
The Steurys happened to stop in Asheville while traveling to the Blue Ridge Mountains and were taken by the beauty and the quality of people. Asheville’s unique food culture mixed with local flair and tourism, made Neala realize this was the place where her dream could come to fruition.
Selflessly, Adam left his prestigious job in LA, and the Steurys moved to Asheville. After fifteen months of planning and renovating, The Gourmet Chip Company opened its doors, serving homemade potato chips with international appeal.
Although kettle potato chips are their specialty, not all the chips are made from white potatoes. The Gourmet Chip Company also serves several variations using sweet potato, taro, and plantain chips.
Neala spares nothing to offer an unforgettable chip experience. The potatoes and oil used have been carefully selected, and most everything is made from scratch, including the furikake for the Japanese style “Nori” chips.
The chip-making process is an art of slow frying and slow drying, to create the perfect texture. Then each individual chip is given the royal treatment, gently tossed, spritzed and sprinkled with fresh aromatic toppings.
The first time I experienced The Gourmet Chip Company, my heart skipped a beat as I held my paper cone filled with warm salty kettle chips embellished with rosemary, melted goat cheese and white truffle oil. Heaven.
As for a recipe, not everyone is comfortable frying chips at home, so Neala had a fantastic idea for “copy-cat” homemade potato chips, using store bought chips. Of course they won’t be as fabulous as the chips you would have at The Gourmet Chip Company, but they are quite lovely and definitely inspired!
The Napa Chips are a personal favorite, combining honey, Stilton cheese and dried lavender. The sweet floral essence of the honey and lavender against the pungent blue cheese, makes one amazing snack.
Napa Style Homemade Potato Chips
Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:1 minute
9oz. bag of kettle-style potato chips
2 tsp. ground lavender, from dried lavender buds
2 Tb. honey
½ cup crumbled blue cheese (preferably Stilton)
Salt and Pepper
Place the chips in a large microwave-safe bowl and nuke the chips for 30-90 seconds, until warmed through.
Drizzle the chips with half the honey, and sprinkle with half the lavender and blue cheese.
Carefully toss and repeat with the rest of the honey, cheese, and lavender.
Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
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