Native Kitchen & Deschutes Brewery Make a Perfect Pair
In Asheville, beer comes in all shapes, colors and sizes: ruby-hued ambers in tall tankards, pints of foaming, chocolatey stouts. And you won’t just find it in glasses—it’s infused into desserts and dishes across town, too.
“In a city like Asheville, where craft breweries are on just about every corner, it is common for me to incorporate [beer] into my recipes,” says Jacob Whitman of Native Kitchen. “Cooking with beer can be a great way to get people excited to try something new, especially if they are familiar with the brewery.” One brewery many of us are familiar with is Deschutes; the Oregon-based brewery is preparing to open up shop on the East Coast too, in Roanoke, and that means more distribution locally—including to Native Kitchen. “I have recently been turned on to their Fresh Squeezed IPA,” Whitman says of the hoppy brew he included in this month’s recipe (see sidebar).
“I’ve also had a lot of fun using raw beer ingredients in my cooking,” the chef points out, noting the many uses of beer in the kitchen. “Using the different grains to make granola for salads or crusts for various proteins, hops for aioli’s. My favorite is when I am able to get my hands on some wort, or ‘unfermented beer,’ to make soups, sauces or marinades.”
It’s clear the Asheville native knows what he’s doing in the kitchen, with beer or otherwise. After stints at local mainstays like Zambra, The Admiral and King James, Whitman made the move east to Swannanoa to man the cooktop at Native Kitchen.
“Native Kitchen has been a type of refuge for me,” he says. “Native’s staff and incredible amount of regular customers have welcomed me and accepted my cooking style with excitement… We often have people waiting for tables on the weekends.” Those customers are waiting for Whitman’s creations, which—in addition to the occasional splash of the hard stuff—always include fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.
“After becoming the head chef at Native Kitchen, I decided to do some research on a farmer I had not worked with in the past,” Whitman explains of his decision to skip the traditional farmer’s market route of sourcing locally. “Building a strong relationship with a farmer is very exciting for me and for my coworkers to see that our food isn’t coming off a semi trailer, it is essentially coming from our backyard. Food Fight Farm was the first local food producer I began working with at Native since my start in February. They have been supplying me with amazing lion’s main and oyster mushrooms. In addition to working with local farms, we also maintain a large garden in the ‘backyard’ of the restaurant that supplies our herbs.”
From Deschutes’ Fresh Squeezed IPA to farm-fresh produce, everything at Native Kitchen is about our favorite five letter word: fresh.