If you want to know what makes Asheville such a special place to visit, ask a local—and that’s just what we did.
Join us as we explore this beautiful and exciting destination with some amazing people who live, work, play, and create here. Asheville is filled with many wonderful things just waiting to be experienced and enjoyed. From unique local businesses to art galleries, museums, theatre, scenic tours, farm-to-fork restaurants, and spectacular adventures in the Blue Ridge Mountains, there is truly something for everyone in this fascinating part of the U.S.A.
CHEF J CHONG
Originally from Toronto, Ontario, Chef J Chong now calls Asheville home. She attended college in Gulfport, Mississippi, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education on a soccer scholarship. After several years of different career paths, she decided to attend culinary school at the age of 35. Currently she is a private chef and owner of J Chong Eats in Asheville. She is also a vendor at local farmers markets, selling frozen dumplings and sauces. When in Ashville, make sure to attend one of her private dinners or cooking classes, or enjoy a meal at one of her Cantonese pop-ups.
What influenced your decision to move here?
Asheville is a sweet mountain town that has a growing food, beverage, and art scene. This is truly a melting pot for entrepreneurs and creators. My internship from culinary school was at Cúrate, so I was able to get a glimpse of what it was like to live here, and I really enjoyed it. My wife was also a fan, so we decided to make the move here seven years ago
What are your favorite places to go for a cocktail and/or dinner?
Wow, that is a hard question. There are so many great spots here. I would say The Golden Pineapple for cocktails and snacks, or Leo’s House of Thirst for wine and small plates. I love their chicken liver mousse and the crudo.
What cultural attractions or events are a must see for visitors?
The Asheville Art Museum is always a great time. Two events that happen annually here in Asheville that I enjoy are the LEAF Festival (October 19-22), and the Goombay Festival (September 1-3).
A friend is coming to Asheville for the first time. Please describe the perfect weekend.
A perfect weekend would be to arrive on a spring or summer Friday morning, grab a hot morning beverage at Rowan Coffee then head to West Asheville for Hole Doughnuts, where they fire each donut to order and change flavors daily. Next we would take a walk along the greenway with my pups Zoe and Ginseng. After stretching our legs, we would hit up one or two local breweries: New Belgium Brewing and Burial. We would then head over to a Filipinx restaurant Neng Jr’s for dinner. The next morning we would take a stroll through the Asheville Farmers Market, grabbing a coffee and pastry from our local vendors, and then head to the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the extraordinary beauty of this wonderful part of the country. We will stop at Graveyard Fields trailhead for a hike, and find a place for a picnic with all of the goodies we found at the farmers market. Once we head back to town, we go to Little Chango for dinner—their arepas and flan are a must. We will end our fun filled weekend at Banks Ave or Asheville Beauty Academy for a drag show. Get your dollar bills ready!
What are the best places to enjoy the natural beauty of the area?
The Blue Ridge Parkway hands down, especially during the fall.
What is your favorite time of year in Asheville and why?
I am a summer baby and I also feel that summer time is when Asheville comes alive with our local community and our visitors.
What’s one locally made product you would suggest your friends should bring back for their friends or family?
J Chong Eats chili oil.
Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave Asheville without…
Having dinner and cocktails at Cultura.