My Dinner with The President

That’s right, my friend Nancy and I had dinner with the President and First Lady of Asheville-Bumcombe Technical Community College, Dr. and Mrs. Hank Dunn.

Call me ignorant, but I’ve always focused on the Culinary program at A-B Tech, not paying much attention to other departments or administration. The invitation read something like, “you’re invited to dine with Dr. and Mrs. Hank Dunn”. When we were seated, the hostess said, “oh, you’re dining with the President”.

What did she say? Really? The President? OoooKaaaay.

Dr. Hank Dunn
Dr. Hank Dunn

We had the Pres and First Lady pretty much to ourselves most of the evening as we dined at a “four-top” in the gorgeously restored Fernihurst (photos), now part of A-B Tech’s Brumit Center for Culinary Arts and Hospitality. And let me say what an absolute pleasure it was to be in the company of such friendly, intelligent, and unassuming people. I believe Nancy felt the same way. We both asked a lot of questions about the journey that brought Dr. Dunn to A-B Tech and about the college itself.

The conversation was topped only by the meal prepared and served in this fine dining “lab”. Throughout the evening, instructors observed and graded from the “wings”. Had I not already known what was going on, I wouldn’t have noticed. In fact, the entire experience was what you’d expect from a good fine dining restaurant.

Our dinner featured a Mediterranean themed menu:

Appetizer (Guest selects one)
Lentil and Apricot Soup with Toasted Almonds
Pork Empanada with Salsa Romesco
Spiced Shrimp in Smoked Paprika with Orange and Fennel Salad
Salt Cod Fritters “Bacaloa” with Piri-Piri and Garlic Aioli

Entrée (Guest selects one)
Paella with Chicken, Chorizo, Pork and Shellfish
Roast Brined Pork Loin with Serrano Ham, Date and Manchego Stuffing
Lamb Tagine with Chickpeas
Grilled Salmon Escabeche
Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Roasted Onion and Aged Sherry Vinegar Sauce
Couscous and Red Lentils with Moroccan-Style Roasted Vegetables in Saffron Broth

Breads and desserts

I had the Lentil and Apricot Soup with Toasted Almonds and Paella with Chicken, Chorizo, Pork and Shellfish.

Don’t think the soup could have been any better. It was delicious and thick enough to be considered hearty. And as Paellas go, this was a good one. My take on this always impressive dish: Shrimp – perfect, Shellfish – perfect, Chorizo – perfect, Chicken drumette – skipped because it was not easy to eat without making a mess in polite company, Rice – slightly overcooked.

Whoa Nellie! Most of the evening, I refrained from taking pictures, but just had to document my dessert choice. Dr. Dunn had stepped away from the table briefly to visit with other diners in the room, so it was just us girls oohing & aahing over our meal’s sweet finale.

A-B Tech Fernihurst Dessert

Everything on that plate was as good as it looks!

Lunches and Dinners are served during the Fall Semester each year and are open to the public – YOU CAN GO. Pricing is extremely reasonable because these meals are learning experiences for the Culinary and Hospitality students. Dates and featured cuisine are listed for the semester on the Dining at A-B Tech page. Reservations are required and may be made by either calling or emailing Lee Sokol at 10:00 am on the Monday of the week you would like to dine. (Phone: 398-7244; email: [email protected]) Following is A-B Tech’s description of both types of dining 2012 experiences.

Lunch will be international “island” buffets. Throughout the semester, the international buffets will include separate “islands” where students will be preparing food in the dining room for your enjoyment. You are encouraged to “island hop” and talk to our students and learn about the various epicurean treats and traditions of that nation’s culinary culture each week. The price for lunch is $11.95 plus tax. Lunch will be served in Magnolia at 12:00, 12:30 and 1:00 for parties of two to eight persons.

Evening guests will enjoy a la carte dinners in Fernihurst. These dinners offer a choice of three appetizers, six entrées and three desserts representing the weekly themed cuisine, plus coffee or tea. The price will be based on the entrée of choice and includes all three courses. The prices will range from approximately $ 14.95 to $ 15.95, plus tax. Seatings for the a la carte dinners in Fernihurst are at 6:00 and 6:30 for parties of two, four or six persons. A complimentary glass of wine or beer paired with the menu will be served with the dinner.

Each year, Culinary teams from A-B Tech win impressive competitions. Take a look at their local, state and national accomplishments here.

This Culinary Arts and Hospitality program is a huge asset to Western North Carolina as well as the state of North Carolina and well beyond. Basically any restaurant you visit in the Asheville area will have A-B Tech Culinary graduates in the kitchen, front-of-house, or both. They may very well own the restaurant.

LIGHTING OF THE GREEN – Through December 18th

A-B Tech Lighting-of-the-Green

If you’d like to take a tour inside Fernihurst, it will be open to the public during the school’s second “Lighting of the Green” through December 18th.

The public is invited to visit Fernihurst from 6 – 8 p.m. on December 11, 14 and 18 for free tours, light refreshments and entertainment. This year’s entertainment will include the A-B Tech Drama Department, the A-B Tech Music Department, the A.C. Reynolds High School Madrigal Singers under the direction of Janis Dellinger Bryant and the Erwin High School choral group Glenalough under the direction of Bob Johnson. Santa will pay a visit Dec. 18 along with other family-friendly activities.

Other historic buildings on the campus will also be decorated for the holidays with energy-efficient lighting, making for a beautiful nighttime drive through the campus.