The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Ashville Artisan Bread Festival

reyesron's picture

The Ashville Artisan Bread Festival

Never been to a bread festival so I drove 400 miles to Asheville Friday night.  Its actually 350 miles away, but I took a wrong turn around Lynchburg's new bypass, and went 25 miles before I realized I was on an unfamiliar road.  I went there really to see the Peter Reinhart demonstration and almost couldn't get a ticket, even though I got to the festival a half hour before it started.  The price of a ticket was to buy a loaf of bread from an artisan, and you would receive one free.  The maker of my bread didn't have any, but searched the whole place and found me one.  The festival itself consisted of about a dozen bakers set up outside the Greenlife Grocery.  It was a beautiful day and the bread I purchased, a baguette, and an Asiago/rosemary ciabatta was really good.  I went into the grocery to look around, and in the flour section, I saw that King Arthur flours sold for close to $7 for a 5 lb bag.  In my area, its around 4.50 and I bought some on sale last week for 3.69.  Later on, as I drove around Asheville, I went into another store and found KA flours for 7.20 for a 5 lb. bag.  Sticker shock!  All in all Asheville was a really nice town. 

The ticket I had for Peter Reinhart showed as 2:30.  I mistakenly thought there was one at 1:00 so I thought I would try to get into it.  When I got there, however, I was told that he only had one demonstration, and it was scheduled for 2:30.  The student/chef was nice enough to direct to a demonstration that had just started, being put on by Lionel Vatinet, of La Farm Bakery.  It was an amazing surprise.  Lionel's demonstration was about handling dough, and forming different loaves.  He was using a French country bread recipe for his demonstration, and gave us all a copy of the recipe.  He only baked one loaf in demonstration of the use of a La Cloche clay baker as his energy was directed towards dough technique.  I did not go to Asheville thinking I would learn as much as I did so I felt incredibly satisfied.  La Farm has a website, and if you don't know of Lionel, you're missing out on a true talent.  He seems young, but he's been baking bread for 30 years, and bread is his specialty.  On the other hand, with the Fresh Loaf group, I might be the last one to learn of him, but if not, go to their site and check him out.  I really can't say enough about his demonstration or his expertise.  Great bread makers have a manual dexterity and a oneness with dough I can only admire.

Peter Reinhart was in his room earlier than 2:30, signing his books, and setting up.  Most of his prep work was done earlier, and most of his bread was baked in an adjoining room.  He is a wonderful teacher and I think that was largely the purpose of his demonstration, talking about flour, and the mystery and chemistry of harnessing its flavor.  He did bake us some Chocolate Babka for tasting and it was quite marvelous and he demonstrated its creation for us.  As soon as my oven is repaired, that will be the first thing I bake.  If Peter was alloted three or four hours for his demonstration, it probably wouldn't have been enough.  There was so much he wanted to cover, and really, so much that he did.  I enjoy a nice long road trip, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one.   


ackkkright's picture

I am glad you enjoyed your Asheville experience. I live in Asheville and attended the festival for the first time this year.

I was disappointed. I arrived about 5 minutes after the start, and the place was packed. I wondered if the crowd was similar for previous years', as the festival seemed to need a larger space. And the system for providing tickets to the workshops was confusing and frustrating. It was hard to figure out if there were tickets available for the Lionel Vatinet or Peter Reinhart workshops, and if there were I could not locate them. Alas.

Nevertheless, there were some beautiful breads!

There are less expensive sources for KA flour in Asheville...usually under $4; and I can sometimes score 5# bags for under $3 at a discount grocery!


dsoleil's picture

Great festival!  We drove up from Atlanta and it was well worth the drive.  It was funny to see the difference in festival goers.  Some just liked tasting free bread.  Others, like the Fresh Loaf folks, really got a great show of artisan expertise.  I agree that the workshop tickets were crazy and not nearly enough tickets were available.  I would gladly pay for the workshops.  They were fantastic.  

All in all, it was time well spent.  I hope to return next year...  

AnnaInMD's picture

The 2013 Asheville Bread Festival tickets are now available by clicking on the link below:

Each workshop has limited space; a separate ticket is required for each session. Tickets can be purchased for $10 each, before or during Festival. A limited number of tickets will be available for 'free' with the purchase of a loaf of bread at the Bakers' Showcase on the day of the Festival.

On checkout please PRINT your invoice and present it at the Asheville Bread Festival to exchange for your ticket(s).  Will Call Tickets can be picked up at the will call table the day of the event, MARCH 23rd, 2013 from 10am to Noon.  The table is  just inside the exhibit area.  You will be asked to sign for your tickets on delivery.

Please pay with the PayPal Service in advance.  You do not need to have a PayPal account to use PayPal You can use your credit or debit card or even a checking account through the service paying as a guest.

PLEASE REMEMBER TO PRINT YOUR INVOICE, IT IS YOUR WILL CALL RECEIPT. If you forget to print it, simply email and ask for a duplicate.  A PDF will be sent to you.


Asheville Artisan Bread Bakers' Festival – 2013
MARCH 23, 2013

10am – 2pm: Bakers’ showcase
Taste bread from 20 local, artisan bakeries. Meet the bakers. Buy a loaf of bread and get a ticket to a workshop. Local millers, cheese makers, and brick-oven builders will also be displaying their products. FREE and open to the bread-eating public.

1pm – 4:30pm: BOB BOWLES – brick-oven owner
Bob has been baking in his home wood-fired brick-oven for many years and will share his knowledge of running a brick-oven. He will discuss construction issues, firing, heat management, and baking bread, pizza, and other wonderful dishes in a home brick-oven.

10:00am – 11:30: EDUARD THIJS – experienced home baker
Artisan Bread at Home Using the no-knead, Dutch oven techniques pioneered by Jim Lahey, you can make world-class artisan bread at home in your kitchen oven. Eduard has been making variations on this bread for several years and will share his experience and recipes for both white and whole grain artisan breads.

Noon – 1:30pm: EMILY BUELHER – baker, author
Hand Kneading for Beginners Learn to knead a basic loaf of bread! We'll make a simple recipe, and talk about the chemistry of the dough, ways to make kneading easier, and how to tell when the dough is "done." Then we'll discuss how to bake your dough when you get it home.

2:00pm – 3:30: EDUARD THIJS – experienced home baker
Artisan Bread at Home Using the no-knead, Dutch oven techniques pioneered by Jim Lahey, you can make world-class artisan bread at home in your kitchen oven. Eduard has been making variations on this bread for several years and will share his experience and recipes for both white and whole grain artisan breads.

A-B TECH MAGNOLIA BUILDING – demonstration auditorium
2:00 – 3:30pm: PETER REINHART – author, baker – Johnson&Wales University
New Frontiers in Baking: Gluten-Free and Sugar-Free Peter Reinhart’s new book, The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking is finally out (last year he gave us a sneak preview prior to publication), and he will be demonstrating the basic techniques of this revolutionary new method, as well as baking recipes for bread, cookies, and even pizza dough. There will be a book signing following the demonstration.

10am – 11:30:LIONEL VATINET – baker, owner La Farm Bakery
Ciabatta and Pizza Step back in time to learn the Old World methods that form the foundation of some of the best tasting Italian breads, including a Ciabatta to “WOW” the most discerning palettes. You will also learn to make two traditional handmade crusts for your pizzas at home, Traditional White, and Whole Wheat. Once you’ve mastered the crust, the sky is the limit and you can experiment with your own creations at home!

Noon – 1:30:CRAIG PONSFORD – baker, owner Ponsford's Place Bakery
Baking Whole Grain Pan Breads with Local Flour For several years, Craig Ponsford has been experimenting with baking techniques that maximize the flavor and health benefits of breads made with locally grown and milled flour. The workshop will explore these flours and their use in making loaf breads suitable for a home oven.
2:00 – 3:30pm:CRAIG PONSFORD – baker, owner Ponsford's Place Bakery
Savory Pastries from Local Flour Learn how to make delicious and healthy pastries, and how to make them even better with locally-grown and ground flour. Using local, seasonal ingredients Craig has created pastries ranging from quiches and turnovers to croissants, pin wheels, and other laminated products.

2:00 – 3:30pm: JEN LAPIDUS – baker, general manager, Carolina Ground Flour Mill
LIONEL VATINET – baker, owner La Farm Bakery
The mill at work! Come see Carolina Ground in action. In this workshop, Jennifer Lapidus will engage your sense of touch and smell as we look at the various grains and inspect the resulting flour. We will observe the mill at work-- producing both whole grain flour as well as a sifted flour. And in addition to the milling demonstration, Jennifer will discuss the experience thus far of working with regional growers and bakers. Lionel Vatinet, the owner of La Farm Bakery, will share his bakery's results from these flours. Lionel has developed a number of new formulas that maximize the unique properties of the Carolina Ground flours.