Cue the Asheville Pizza Showdown, happening Aug. 12 at Toy Boat Community Arts Center, hosted by the Garage at Biltmore. (A note of explanation: Toy Boat took recently over 101 Fairview Road from the Garage at Biltmore. The Garage continues to produce events under its name.)
Formerly called Asheville Pizza Wars, the less starkly named event will use a simple formula: “Hot pizza, cold beer and great times: that's what we're trying to make and put the recipe together to create this event and make it extremely successful,” says Gary Charles of G Social Media, who is helping plan the event. A panel of local "celebrity" judges will crown the winning pie. According to local blog Ask Asheville, the panel includes Mayor Terry Bellamy, Leah McGrath (dietitian for Ingles Markets), radio personality Agnes Cheek and others.
This year's event doubles as a mini beer festival, with brews from locals Pisgah, Highland and Craggie breweries, as well as Dry County Brewing Company from Spruce Pine.
Tickets include all-you-can-drink beer to complement the all-you-can-eat pizza. “Pizza is usually a comfort food to beer,” says Charles. “It's a complementary food that is comforting. Just like barbecue ... and pretzels. I think it's easy to go out and get a slice a pizza and a couple beers.”
Competition is fierce and social-media chatter only spurs it on. “In all of our social media there was always a lot of buzz with people saying, 'Oh, this person has the most authentic N.Y. pizza,' and 'No, this place does,'” Charles says. “Then, when you get in the whole pizza realm, of course all of the establishments are extremely proud of their pizzas or their recipes or special sauce they use.”
For Charles, the event combines the pleasures of food with the values of community.
All-inclusive tickets are $30. Proceeds from the evening go to MANNA FoodBank. All ages are welcome. According to a release, "Children up to 12 years old (with a paying adult) get in free with one of the following items brought and donated to Manna Food Bank: cereal/granola bars, fruit/applesauce cups, Jello/pudding cups, crackers, dried fruit pouches or individual-serving cereal boxes/bowls."