Friday, October 31, 2014


I mentioned in my most recent food column on that I don't read West Asheville Exchange (WAX), and some of you might be wondering why.

I mean, 10, 811 members (at last count) couldn't be wrong, right?  Of course not.  You're fiiine.  You're all fiine.  Carry on, please.  I'm definitely not saying that you shouldn't read WAX, but here's why I don't:

It seems  -- from what I hear  --  to be a forum where Trolls and Haters run rampant.


Here are some of the stories that I've heard about WAX from other people.  Keep in mind that I have no clue if any of this is true, but it's what I've heard, and it's enough to make me 100% not interested...

• There was a thread about a music shop, or something like that, which resulted in one of the commentors confronting another commentor in the real world, and the police being called into action.  Um.  No.  Thank you.

• There was another thread "tearing Barleycorn's a new one," according to a friend, because the owner is an "asshole who parks his car in front of the restaurant every day."  When I was all, like,  "What?!?"  my friend explained to me that people were pissed because that spot should be for customers.  Good lord.  Fights about parking?  On line?!?  Get a fucking grip.

• Other posts are posed as direct questions to the forum about what they think of specific people.  Like, individual people being thrust up in front of the world, and every hater in Asheville being invited to spew their bile about this or that person.  What.  The fuck.  Is up.  With THAT?!?  That's... just wrong.

Now, like I said, I have no idea how much of the above is true, but I do know that I have zero  ---  ZERO  --  interest in inviting anything close to that kind of energy into my eyeballs, mind, heart, or soul.  I'm a sensitive mutherfucker, Betches.  I do not need to be reading hateful bullshit from assholes that I don't even know.

I get enough of that in the Ashvegas comments section.

You guys know that ever since I started writing about food for Jason at Ashvegas, I have been not only a Roll Biter but a Troll Fighter...  and a muhfuckin' PO-ette!   I've made no secret of the fact that I hate Trolls.  I think they are the worst sort of people on Earth.

The Trolls immediately decided that they hate me too.  They hate my writing style, my lack of fancy credentials, my swearing, my ability to...  I don't really know...   make friends with other people?   After my very first column, a certain segment of Asheville simply decided to hate me for whatever reason, and to take the opportunity to write their hateful thoughts about me in the comments section under my food column week after week.  I had fun fighting with them for a little while, but it's pointless in the end  --  you cut off one head, only to find that two, even stupider and more annoying ones will grow back  --  so eventually I stopped paying much attention to my own comments section.  That's a shame really, because I used to enjoy the positive energy from the normal, human, readers, but eventually, I decided it wasn't worth the negative energy generated by the Trolls, so I stopped looking.

This week however,  I noticed that one of the Trolls  --  a frequent commentor on WAX from what I hear  --  popped-up in the comments of my most recent Ashvegas column and decided to take my statement that I don't read WAX as a direct "dig" at him.  Fuckin' Trolls.  Such egos.  Such babies.  Such is the life of a Troll.  Always under imagined attack, and ready to lash out.  This particular Troll is one of the ones that is constantly questioning my integrity as a food writer.  What an asshole.  Exactly the kind of asshole I seek to avoid by not reading WAX.

I heard from a friend that my column, with its tiny mention of West Asheville Exchange...  and a link to a 12 hour sound effect of chirping crickets...  kicked off a "shit storm" over there.  She also said, "So far it's mostly been me defending you against a bunch of idiots."

I love my friends.

What I don't love is the fact that there's a public forum in this town in which individuals regularly attack, and are forced to defend, each other.  That's not very Ashevillian, Maaaan.  Ain't we supposed to be a community?  Not to get all Rodney King on ya over here, but...  I need a drink!

Ha!  Just kidding.  Sorry, Ghost of Rodney King, I loved ya, Brother.  I wish you'd stayed off the sauce, and stuck around a little longer.

You guys know what really killed Rodney King, right?

Motherfuckers not getting along!!! 

True story.

And that's why I don't read WAX.

But that's just me.


I sent this piece to Dawn for her opinion before posting, and she suggested that I tie it into food a little bit more. Well, the only reason WAX is even on my radar these days is because people have been asking me if I've read this or that other crazy hateful thing about this or that other restaurant on WAX.  One restaurant owner even said to me, "We got WAXed today."  He had a sad.  I told him not to worry about it.

Here's my advice to restaurant owners, servers, and chefs who get WAXed:  Remember Biscuitgate.

You guys remember Biscuitgate, right?

Apparently, someone had gone on WAX and claimed ("claims" are a classic Troll tactic) that they found an empty margarine tub (I think) in a dumpster behind the building in which in the original Biscuit Head is located.   This touched off such a shit storm of debate, and resulted in a thread so long that Jason from Ashvegas once told me it was one of the longest threads he'd ever seen.  And this is a guy who's seen a LOT of threads.

I'd been hearing the word Biscuitgate for a week or more, from a few different sources, so I was finally like, "Okay, I gotta check this shit out.  It's gotta be AWESOME."

It was not.

It was one of the biggest loads of bullshit and nothingness on the internet that I've ever wasted my time on...  and I'm a guy who has wasted a LOT of time on bullshit and nothingness on the internet.

The "debate" went on..  and on...  and on... and mutherfucking on and on and on...  never coming to head, or reaching conclusions...  quickly breaking down into people simply trying to out-do each other with really lame jokes, and then those same lame jokes being repeated by other people later on in the thread, because they hadn't read the whole thread and had missed those lame jokes the first...  second...  third time they were posted by someone else...  the whole thing was so full of pure, unmoderated dumbnesses that I was instantly made dumber simply by looking at it.

I can feel the dumbening start to creep in just from thinking and writing about it now.

Later, I asked Jason if Biscuit Head ever responded to the thread, and he said, "No."

Extremely smart move, Biscuit Head. Congrats on your booming business and your second location, by the way.

From that point on, the term "Biscuitgate" has been a bit of a euphemism around here for anything that seems like a big deal, possibly even a scandal, but really isn't.

I hope to never waste my time giving one iota of a shit about another Biscuitgate ever again.

And THAT is another reason I don't read WAX.  A reason that is related to food.  Dawn.


Thursday, October 30, 2014


I forgot to post a  link here last week for my Ashvegas food column, so I'm doubling down with links to last week AND this week...


I review a single hot dog from Greenlife Grocery as well as the black dog at King James Pub, then move on to a doughnutty rant that ends with a review of Hole in West Asheville.

Click HERE to read it on

Here are the owners of Hole Doughnuts on Haywood Ave in West Asheville.  They were super nice!


I recount the mystery meat experience that I had on my first visit to  Biscuit Head in West Asheville, but give their brisket biscuit the thumbs up at their Biltmore Ave location.  Then I rave about Vortex Doughnuts for a bit and end with a plea to help support a new, locally made product called Hempeh.

Click HERE to read it on

Here I am with one of the owners of Vortex Doughnuts, also super nice!

Saturday, October 25, 2014


This one is titled "Red Velvet Heart."  Mixed media w/ frosting, food coloring, and cupcake paper. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Dawn and I purchased tickets to a preview of the food that will be served at Gan Shan Station, when it opens its doors (hopefully) this winter.

The preview was hosted by Metro Wines, and was a good deal, as we got 5 courses, and Dawn got 5 glasses of wine, all for about $45 dollars per person.  It would have been a much better deal if I also drank wine, but I don't, so whatever.

Metro Wines is a nice little shop up on N. Charlotte street, right next to the Charlotte Street Grille.  Gan Shan Station is the name of the new asian fusion place that's slated to take over the truly horrible and much hated BP Station that's been abandoned in a terrible state of decay, detracting in a big way from that otherwise very nice little neighborhood for years.

That station has been an eyesore ever since I can remember  --  even when it was still a functioning garage  --  so we're all very glad that it's going to become something potentially awesome!

Here are some pictures from the evening...

The Menu was fixed.

The place looked really great.  That's dawn scoping-out the wine in the background, and that's my Starb's cup really classin'-up the joint in foreground.  They didn't have coffee available that night, but they said I could bring my own, so I did.

They have a lot of fun little signs all over the store that tell you who likes what, and even which local restaurants their wines are poured at.

The beef tartar on a crispy rice thingy was one of the best parts of the meal.  I never thought I would like raw meat on a cracker, but this town is so full of tartar these days, that I'm really getting to like it!  Dawn said the sparkling sake was a little too sweet for her liking.

Wine shop selfie!

Here's Patrick O'Cain on the mic, he's going to be the head chef / owner at Gan Shan Station. He came over to our table and was very nice!  He grew up here in Asheville right in that same neighborhood, and seems very excited, sincere, and enthusiastic about the future!  That's the wine guy in front of him, I forget his name, he was very nice too, and funny, and very down to Earth. 

This smoked trout salad with shaved veg was very good.  Dawn said it might have been her fave of the evening.  We both agreed that they gave us too much of it, though.  It was only the 2nd course and we were already getting full!  As we attend more and more of these "tastings" and other food events, we are noticing that there is a real skill to portioning at various types of happenings.  I remember being even slightly pissed-off at one of the vendors at the burger battle for giving us a largeish burger!  Size matters.

I am not the hugest fan of terrine.  I find that it has an ick factor for me, after the third or fourth bite.  I ate all of the stuff on this plate however, but more out of guilt than pure enjoyment.  I was quietly gagging on the last two bites of terrine.  That's just me though.  And Dawn.  She's even less of a fan of terrine than I am.

We both enjoyed the terrine more when it was mixed with all the other stuff on the plate into a "bite."

This is octopus.  It was good but the dish suffered a little bit because it wasn't served hot, but lukewarm. That was probably due to the fact that they were working without a proper kitchen, because the event was in a wine shop, so while understandable, I think the dish would have been better had it been hot.   Dawn found the puree on the bottom unappealing, but I enjoyed it.  The peppers were mild and tasty.   

This is black rice congee with a poached egg on top.  I did not enjoy this very much at all, and found it to be completely out of place at this tasting.  The portion was way too large, and the over-all feel of the dish was very breakfasty.  The time was, maybe, 8pm by this point, we'd been eating various small plates of weird food all night, so I simply wasn't anywhere near in the mood for a big ol' hearty bowl o' breakfast.

I also found this dish to be very "low brow," which can be fine, even preferred in a different setting, but not here at the wine shop.  Congee is, essentially, and Asian version of grits, and people eat it for breakfast the same way that we eat grits down South or they eat Cream of Wheat up North.  There's nothing exotic, or exciting to me about a bowl of Asian grits with an egg on top.

Others felt that the additional hot chili oil was too hot.  I found it to be the saving grace of the dish, which was otherwise very bland to me.

Dawn seemed to enjoy this dish more than I did.

For dessert there were two pieces of candy.  Disappointles to the maxwad.

I was pretty disappointed in general, to be honest, and while I feel as though Gan Shan Station will be a huge asset to that neighborhood and I'm very very super duper glad that it is opening up and replacing the empty rotting nightmare BP Station that has stood there for so long, I'm personally not super stoked to go eat there when it opens.

Dawn wants to go though, so I'll be there too, keeping a positive mental attitude, and hopefully enjoying a wonderful meal.


Here's the interior of the BP Station where Gan Shan will go, before renovations (and before the panorama option on iPhone).

I lived in that hood for years and hated the fuck out of this BP Station.  It made me mad. 

I once did a whole photo shoot there and posted a rant against it on FaceBook. 

You can see the rest of those pics and read the rantings HERE.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014


From Wikipedia:

TROLL - In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtrl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[4]

Trolls are amusing. 

They twist and spin, and hiss and spit, and rant and rave, and act like complete and total assholes about one subject or another in online discussions, all the while misspelling every other word, and getting most of the facts wrong along the way.

Nice people are not as amusing.  They weigh in on a subject, letting you know the (actual) facts, spelling stuff right, and trying not to offend or mistreat other people involved in the discussion.

You could say they're boring. 

The following interview might be a little bit boring.

Especially when compared to the one I did with that hideous fucking Troll who showed up on my Facebook page back in September, this interview, which is a reaction to that interview, is boring as fuck.

My interview subject  --  one Mr. Brian VVolfe  --   is not a boring person, he doesn't say boring things, but he also doesn't accidentally write anything hilariously ignorant, or reveal himself to be a racist, or tell me he wants to "puke all over" me the way that Troll did.  Brian is a normal person.  A nice person.

So why did I interview nice guy, Brian? 

Because he's one of "those idiots" who graduated from ABTech.

In my interview with that Troll, he said the following:

"Ab tech kids get the bullshit idea in their head that they are better then everyone else and ect. They build up their graduates to think they are going to be world class chefs. In reality they are ranked 78th in the country and have a 80% drop out rate. The employers around here love hiring those idiots "

I put out a call on my Facebook Page, asking for graduates of ABTech to contact me if any were willing to go on record and be interviewed about their experiences before, during, and after their stint at ABTech.  Brian answered the call. 

The following is a verbatim transcript of our correspondence.  Nothing has been changed, edited, deleted, or omitted.  I did not "fix" any of my own writing or Brain's after the fact.  As you can see, Brian, unlike that Troll, has a command of the English language and an ability to form full sentences with words that are spelled correctly and phrases that make sense.  There's even proper punctuation and use of capitals.

Brian didn't ask me to "spellingcheck" his interview, the way that Troll did.  He seems to have mastered the art of written communication quite well on his own.  Here's what he had to say...


Brian VVolfe - Oct 10th, 1:58pm

Hey Stu. I graduated from AB Tech's Culinary program last May. I don't quite fit your criteria since I have moved back to Atlanta for work but I would be more than willing to complete an interview if you're interested. Steve Goff is a friend of mine and just enlightened me on this whole situation.

Stu Helm: The Food Critic - Oct 13th, 8:21am

Hi Brian! Thanks for the note, and the willingness to be interviewed on this subject. It's true that I'm hoping t interview a ABTech Grad who works in Asheville, but I think it would be great for people to hear what an ABTech grad is doing out there in the world too!

Are you from Asheville originally? Why did you choose ABTech?

Brian VVolfe - Oct 13th, 12:10pm

I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. I looked at CIA, Johnson and Wales in Denver and Charlotte, and the Art Institute. I decided on AB Tech because it was the most realistic to the industry, best value for the quality of curriculum, and the Chef instructors do not just push people through the program for the sake of doing so. The low graduation rate was a a determining factor for me personally because I knew it would be a challenge and I knew I would get more out of school being surrounded by serious, driven individuals.

Stu Helm: The Food Critic - Oct 13th, 1:52pm

That's awesome! When you graduated -- and moved back to Atlanta -- what was the first step you took in your career, what positions at what restaurants did you first seek out, how may jobs did you apply for, and how long did it take to find a job?

Do you think your ABTech degree was helpful in your job search, like, people had heard of ABTech, and respected your degree?

Brian VVolfe - Oct 14th, 1:08am

I had a job offer at the end of my first year of school from Chef Joe Schafer at King + Duke but decided to do my internship at McCrady's in Charleston and finish my degree before I moved back to Atlanta. I worked on the wood burning hearth at King + Duke for 4 months. Chef Joe resigned from King + Duke about a month ago and is taking over as Exec at Abattoir next week. I put my notice in shortly after Joe left and I have been working the line at Bacchanalia for the past week and will be going to Abattoir as Sous Chef next week.

I had already been in the industry for several years before starting school at AB Tech. Most people I have worked with have not heard of AB Tech. Those that have always speak highly of it. The main things I took from AB Tech are technique, professionalism, and respect for this lifestyle and trade. All of which have helped me to where I am today.

I had not heard of AB Tech's culinary program until I had really started searching for schools. Atlanta is less than 4 hours away. They should definitely broaden their proximity for marketing and advertisement.

Stu Helm: The Food Critic - Oct 15th, 7:52am

Thanks for these answers, Brian! You seem like a real go-getter, with a positive mental attitude, a strong work ethic, and an ability to network. I think those things are essential to success in any venture.

I graduated from a small art school no one has ever heard of called The Art Institute of Boston. It's not a top-rated school by any means, but it sure as fuck taught me the importance of hard work, a friendly handshake, and a solid skill base when it came time to look for work in the Art industry. It sounds like ABTech is similar in that regard.

Okay, so, you know that I'm interviewing you because of an exchange I had with a hideous Troll through FaceBook. Among other outrageous things, he wrote:

"Ab tech kids get the bullshit idea in their head that they are better then everyone else and ect. They build up their graduates to think they are going to be world class chefs. In reality they are ranked 78th in the country and have a 80% drop out rate. The employers around here love hiring those idiots "

Do you have a reaction to that, as one of "those idiots?"

Please keep in mind that I intend to post your answer, along with your name on my blog, which may be seen by as many as 700+ people, many of them in the food industry.

Brian VVolfe - Oct 17th, 9:15pm

AB Tech is most certainly similar to the Art Institute of Boston in that regard. One benefits and takes from a school as much as they are willing to put into it. As one of "those idiots," I think that this guy's uneducated blanket statement about AB Tech's Culinary program and their graduates is laughable and obviously coming from an incredibly bitter standpoint. He obviously has had run ins with AB Tech graduates and drop-outs that have rubbed him the wrong way. I know that some of this resentment comes from the fact that he was not hired by some of them and not paid very well by others, which only really gives us some insight into the strength of his resume and his talent as a cook. AB Tech's drop out rate is damn near close to 80% and for good reason. The Culinary Program is part of a Community College that is funded by its state and county. This differs from the private Culinary schools in the nation that charge an arm and a leg for tuition. AB Tech does not benefit at all from pushing unmotivated, untalented, and disinterested people through the program because they are not reaping the reward of their tuition. Private schools, such as the one this gentleman attended, catch a lot of flak from people in the industry for pushing students through because they depend on the profits. AB Tech has such a high drop out rate because it is a difficult program. I saw first hand that people realize very quickly they are not cut out to finish and drop like flies. Everyone that graduated with me is NOT going to be a successful Chef but some of them most certainly are, I have no doubts about this. The vast majority of people that graduated with me worked their asses off for their degree and most certainly deserve some respect for finishing it. AB Tech was most certainly a beneficial stepping stone in my career. I owe a lot of what I know and how I handle myself to Chef John Hofland, Chef Fred Snyder, and my peers.

Stu Helm: The Food Critic - Oct 20th, 6:19am

Thank you so much for these answers and for doing this interview with me, Brian! You obviously have a great attitude and have found success in the food industry as a result of that attitude, combined with hard work, and the skills you learned at ABTech.

I'm going to type this up into a story for my blog and I will let you know when it's ready for reading and sharing etc.

Do you have any pictures of yourself in action that I can use to illustrate the piece?

Thanks again, Brian! This was terrific!

Brian sent this picture of himself, hard at work in the kitchen.


Yawn.  So boring.  So awesomely, intelligently, well-mannered, thoughtful, informative, and boring.  Brian didn't even come back to my FaceBook page later to post hardcore gay porn and threaten to punch me in the face the way that Troll eventually did.  As far as I know, he hasn't written my girlfriend an FB message telling her "I know who you are.  I know where you work." the way that Troll did either.

I don't even think he's going to puke all over me if we ever meet.  SO BORING!!!

I want to thank Brian VVolfe for this interview, it was exactly the tonic this discussion needed after the poisonous infection it got from that Troll.

I would love to hear from more boring people who graduated from ABTech. Are you one of "those idiots"  --  those hard-working, positive minded, successful idiots  -- who is now working in the culinary world?  I want to hear your stories, good and bad, about ABTech.

You can send me a private message through my FaceBook page.

Thanks, everyone, for reading this far.  Here's a reward...

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Dawn and I flew to NYC to eat some food, see the sights, and most of all, visit our beloved Aunt Sally.

Aunt Sally doesn't live right in NYC, but in a suburb called Larchmont, and Aunt Sally isn't really our aunt , but rather a friend, named Sally, whom I once called Aunt Sally, and have ever since.

A trip to NYC always means a trip to Aunt Sally's house, where she graciously allows friends to stay for a day, a weekend... weeks on end, while they visit the city, check out the scene... figure out what the fuck they're doing with their lives.

We stayed with Aunt Sally for three nights, and even though she was feeling poorly, she was a sport and joined us for one very fancy meal out and treated us to a live performance of "Pussy Panic!" by Dandy Darkly.  It was fab.

Sally's house always has these things in it:

• Cats - Jack, and that other guy.

• Smoke - Aunt Sally smokes up a storm.

• Food - Aunt Sally loves to eat, and so do we, so we always eat with Aunt sally!  Mmm... bagels... mmm...  pasta...  mmm... chinese take out....  toffee...  popcorn...  cheese doodles...  yeah man!

• STUFFF! - Holy.  Shit.  Aunt sally loves to thrift, and her house is full of all kinds of cool stuff.

From African masks, to obscene coffee mugs, to tiny wooden sea creatures, to a heavy brass statuette of an emotionless Chairman Mao sitting in a wicker chair, Aunt Sally's house has it all.  Plus there are piles and piles of vintage clothes, and costume jewelry, and cool purses, and matchbooks, and compacts, and cigarette cases, and old lip sticks, and perfumes, and belts, and SHOES.  Oh my god, the shoes.  Really cute shoes everywhere you look.

Aunt Sally is like the Smaug of vintage stuff, smiling atop her hoard of treasure, surrounded by smoke of her own making...  Of course, Aunt Sally isn't evil like that dang Smaug was!  In fact, she's super nice and really generous!  I'd own that Chairman Mao statuette right now if I only could have fit it into my suitcase.  I said I liked it, and she said, "Oh good, take it!"

Aunt Sally is one of my most fave people ever.  She loves video games, and bad movies, as well as high art and culture.  One of my favorite times with Aunt Sally was playing Wii tennis together, me working up a sweat and straining actual muscles  --  as the game's designers intended  --  while Aunt Sally handed me my ass from her comfy chair with flicks of her wrist, a cigarette in the other hand, barely paying attention to the game and arguing with Dawn about a show at the MoMA or some other high brow shit like that.

She calls people "Darling."  

As in:

"The play last night was dreadful, Darling.  No, I don't blame Michael Cera, I don't even blame the writers!  I blame myself for going.  I should have stayed at the restaurant and finished that wonderful dessert."

That's an uptown, New York "Darling," not a down home Dixie "Darlin'," which has it's own charms, but Aunt Sally is a Northerner through and through.  When Aunt Sally calls you Darling, you feel like you're having breakfast at Tiffany's together, even though you're sitting at her kitchen table, amid the clutter of chotchkies and postcards and copies of Us Weekly, eating left over noodles, and dying from 2nd hand smoke.

If there's a down-side to Aunt Sally's house, it is the cigarette smoke.  My parents smoked when I was a kid, and that's exactly how I feel when I'm at Aunt Sally's:  Like that little kid again, who doesn't understand why the grown-ups smoke.  It's so gross!  Plus, we all know it kills you, and I want my Aunt Sally to live forever!  But, they don't call her Aunt Sally Death Wish for nothin'.  :(  The last time I asked her if she ever planned on quitting, she chuckled.  "No, Darling, but aren't you sweet."

Damn it!!!

Oh well, it's just something I have to put up with if I wanna spend time with Aunt Sally, which I do.  

She rules.

Everybody should have an Aunt Sally!


Friday, October 17, 2014



My latest column on is all about our most recent trip to New York City, where we visited with Aunt Sally, and took in the tastes.

Click above, or HERE to read all about it.

A view from the end of Grand Central Market in Grand Central Station, New York City.


Cooked at home by the so-called Food Critic, Stu Helm, this was not his best effort at lunch.  The burger, though made from high quality meat courtesy of Brandyapple Farms by way of the French Broad Food Coop, was over-cooked, and too small for the tostada shell it sat on.

The flavor was good  --  spicy, smokey, beefy, sour creamy  --  but I craved some form of sweetness (Damn you, Dixie!  You've made me horny for sweets at all times!) and it would have been way better had some fresh chopped cilantro, or fresh tomato salsa been added.  What?  You couldn't even throw some fucking lettuce on there, Stu?  Awesome.  In the chef's defense, there were none of those things available in the house.

Like all toaster oven burgers, this one was juicy, and like I said, the basic flavor was good, so I ate every bite.  I even used my finger to swipe up the last sour-creamy goodnesses from the plate.

The tostada shell was crispy and corny, like a tostada shell should be, and heated over an open flame, so it had a wonderful semi-burnt quality that I really love.

I'd say this was a 5 star burger, with 2 star execution, so I'll give it 3 stars over all.

A slice of grilled pineapple would have been good.  Really good.  Next time!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Is it just me, or does this seem like an insane amount of garlic? 

Earthfare, what are you doin' to me?

I think, by weight and volume, there was actually more garlic in my package of "Roasted Cauliflower" than cauliflower.

I'm giving Earthfare a "Peevey" award for this.

Isn't there enough bad breath in this world without Earthfare trying to feed me giant chunks of partially cooked garlic for dinner?


Sunday, October 5, 2014


Once upon a time... 

A hideous Troll showed up on my Facebook page.

Like most Trolls, this one wanted to be fed attention, so after some initial bad behavior on my own part, I calmed down and decided to give him the attention he so needfully begged for.  I decided to interview him.

His name is Sean Cooper. 

Now, before you gasp, "You named names!"  I asked this Sean Cooper character if I could print his name, and cut 'n' paste our conversation onto my Blog, and he replied, "Go for it."  Adding in true Troll fashion that my blog "is so pathetic it needs something besides rants about flip flops."

Sigh.  I guess poor Sean thinks that, where I did post an anti-flip-flop rant, is my blog.  I don't think I've mentioned flip flops here on my actual blog, but whatever.  Like most Trolls, Sean is easily confused by the most basic, simple shit.  I'm also guessing that he wears flip-flops.

WARNING! BEFORE YOU READ ANY FURTHER:  Sean says some outrageous shit in the interview below, and accuses a particular local restaurant of the great-thing-that-no-restaurant-wants-to-be-accused-of:  Food Poisoning.  Don't worry tho', like most Trolls, Sean's story is sketchy, unverifiable, and changes frequently.  I tend not to believe every word that any Troll spurts out, and I tried to get Sean to be very specific about his accusations, but he is elusive... while remaining steadfastly accusatory. 

Please note:  I DO NOT AGREE WITH ANYTHING THIS MORON SAYS.  He is a self admittedly bitter, unemployed sous chef, who has gone through 9 jobs in the 3 years he's lived in Asheville.  He relishes the attention I give him and can not stop himself from blathering on and on about how much he hates the people, the food scene, and the city that all of you guys know I love.  He is a completely obnoxious twat about everything. 


Anyhoodles...  I'll start with the line from the post that sparked the whole exchange.  I did not spell-check or edit any of the posts or exchanges between Sean and myself that follow.  Just imagine the word "sic" in your mind the entire time you're reading this...

STU HELM (On my blog, writing about my lunch with the editor of Food Life Magazine) - "Later, we had lunch at White Duck Taco, downtown.  Nice lady, great conversation, good tacos!"

SEAN COOPER (On my FaceBook page, apparently responding to my blog post) - "The Rubbery bland duck taco shop sucks dude."

STU HELM (on my FaceBook Page, replying to Sean's comment)  - "White Duck? The tacos are perfectly fine at White Duck. I'm not gonna say they rule or anything, but they haven't been rubbery any time I've ever had them and I certainly wouldn't say they suck. Your assessment seems overly harsh. Are you embittered by some childhood trauma brought on by a white duck?"

SEAN COOPER (on my FaceBook Page) - "No just prefer my food seasoned and cooked properly that's all. Just keeping pumping places you know suck cuz the food is free. I haven't seen a negative post from you in months besides the page where you complained about flip flops for 3 paragraphs"

"You putting down the horrible hippie/French slop this town loves to put on plates and cutting boards was made you popular and now your just a sell out"


Okay, this made me mad, I admit that.  I hate Trolls.  I just fucking hate them,  And here's this douche, posting his trollish bullshit right on my own Facbook page.  I banned him, and in my anger, I fired off this nasty note...

STU HELM (In a private FB message to Sean Cooper) - "You've been banned from my Facebook page, Sean. That's how that works. Dicks like you can insult me on Ashvegas all they want, so go do that there, but my on Facebook page, yeah, no, assholes like you get banned. You seem like a complete turd of a person, BTW"


This, of course, elicited a response from Sean...

SEAN COOPER (In a private FB message to Stu Helm)- "you smell like shit stu, you walked by me a few months ago and I nearly puked all over you. If you want I would happy to come say these things to your face I'm not hiding behind anything. Your blog post was laughable. The reason food and wine blocked your shitty piece was because it sucked! Why don't you go eat some food off a cutting board or something"


It was Food Life Magazine that cut my piece, not Food and Wine.  A small point, I know, but I find it hilarious that he got it wrong.  Trolls ALWAYS get shit dead wrong.  It's like they read every other word,  then forget half of what they read, and misunderstand the other half before firing off an angry screed about it.  High-larious.

Sean's response was so hilarious to me, in fact, that it snapped me right out of my own Trollishness, and made me laugh out loud.  This guy.  I gotta get some more comedy out of this fuckin' guy.  I decided to change my tone.  The rest of this interview was conducted over the course of a couple of hours via FB Message while I did other shit...


STU HElM- Hahahahaha! That is pure comedy. Thank you, Sean, I love it. Do you mind if I cut and paste this to my blog with your full name attached to it? I know that my readers would get a real kick out of seeing it.

Also, do you work in a restaurant? I'd be happy to mention them too if you think they'd like that. Just let me know.

SEAN COOPER - "Go for it

Your blog is so pathetic it needs something besides rants about flip flops"

STU HELM -  "And what about my other question? Do you currently work in a local restaurant? I noticed that you're a "former sous chef Etowah Valley Golf Club & Lodge." Does that mean you are no longer a sous chef, or that you're a sous chef somewhere else?"

SEAN COOPER - "I have worked at a lot of places over the last few years but am currently out of state setting a job in florida. Asheville restaurant scene is a joke. shitty pay and poormanagement"

STU HELM - "Would you describe yourself as being bitter about your experiences in the Asheville restaurant scene? Did you work at White Duck?"

SEAN COOPER - "def. bitter"

STU HELM - "And White Duck?"

SEAN COOPER - "food poisoned"


At this point, Sean's two-word responses are making me wonder if he's having regrets about entering into this conversation.  I soldiered on.


STU HELM - "Seriously? Shitting-out-your-ass-while-vomitting-between-your-legs food poisoned? I've been food poisoned and it's a pretty drastic illness. Are you saying that you honestly and truly were stricken with actual for real food poisoning after eating at White Duck taco?"

"And still wondering, did you work there?"

SEAN COOPER - "did not work there. I'm a actually chef who went to J&W. Didn't spend 50K to work for 9 bux an hour in this shithole"

STU HELM - By "shithole" you mean Asheville?"

"How many restaurants did you work in here?"

SEAN COOPER - "like 9 in 3 years but some I was working 2 jobs at a time
never got over 11 an hour"

"interned for mario batali in NYC"

"sous chef at biltmore , grove park and vinnies when it didn't suck"

"30$ a plate places paying 9 bux an hour"

"applied to king james got a phone call asking me if I wanted to wash dishes. My degree is way beyond any AB tech degree and I could cook circles around GOFF. Ab tech kids get the bullshit idea in their head that they are better then everyone else and ect. They build up their graduates to think they are going to be world class chefs. In reality they are ranked 78th in the country and have a 80% drop out rate.
The employers around here love hiring those idiots"


Okay, heeeeere we go.  Now he's getting into it.  Venting.  Showing his ass to the world.  Keep in mind:  He knows this is all going to be published on my blog with his name attached to it.   I kept pushing...


STU HELM - "Thanks for all that. Where did you move to Asheville from and why did you come here?"

"Also, still curious about the "food poisoning."  Are you going on record saying that White Duck gave you actual food poisoning?  I'm publishing all of this on my blog, so I don't want any ambiguities.

SEAN COOPER - "I mean I don't really see how they can prove they did not give it to me, nor can I really prove it was them but yah they did"

"have you seen their kitchen? it's disgussting"


Wait what?  I thought he said he didn't work there?  So, how did he see the kitchen?  Since the White Duck I ate at is practically brand-fucking-new, I'm going ot assume the kitchen was pretty fucking clean.  Sean continues...


SEAN COOPER - "Worked fancy ski resorts out west for vail resorts"

"my gf grew up here , and said it was a great "foodie" top with lots of jobs LOL"


"Asheville has a lot dumb rich ppl who think running a restaurant is all about drinking wine and smoozing customers until they find out it's actual work. Lawyers and other dumb rich ppl think hey I love food lets open a restaurant and that pretty much sums up ashevilles food scene"

"restaurant impossible and kitchen nightmares would have a field day here

STU HELM - "What city are you applying for a job at in Florida? What restaurant? Have you heard good things about that city's food scene? Why did you leave Vail if the jobs market there was so good for chefs?"

SEAN COOPER - "wife made me move to asheville"

"Florida' like every other state good pay decent food"

"appplied to 10 jobs got 9 calls in 1st 2 days here"

"clearwater tampa area"

"jobs everywhere down here though they are not big on hirining mexicans to cook here like asheville is"

"asheville gets what it pays for"

"you pay bananas your gonna get monkeys"

"rocky's fucking hot chicken shack pays dishwashers 11 an hour and cooks 112-14 and they sell chicken"

"30$ plates places pay 8-9"

"no pizza or italian worth eating in a city that is full of Yankee transplants is stupid"

"thank god for kims kitchen or I would not be able to get chinease worth eating


Good.  Lord. 

Did he just call Mexican people "monkeys?"  Yes.  Yes he did. 

Personally I like bananas, but whatever. 

Also, people who say things like "wife made me" are hilariously funny to me. 

Nobody makes me do anything.  Ever.  I make all of my own choices, so I have no one to blame but me when things go wrong.  This guy.  This Troll in human form, blames his poor wife for the horrible fact that he...  What?  Lives in one of the most beautiful cities in the country?  I wanted to see if I could get him to blame her for more stuff...


STU HELM - "Does your wife like Asheville? Was she able to find a job?"

"Did you leave behind a good job out West to come here?"

SEAN COOPER - "15 an hour to come here"

"she works hospitals so yah she does fine there"

"15 an hour to 9"

"most of my chef buddies have left there over the years"

"it' like all the real chefs left and were stuck with ab tech drop outs running the city"

"it's sad"

"I loved it there when I 1st got there"

"every year 10 restaurants close and 10 more open"

"cost of living there at 9 an hour is a joke"

"at 1 point I was living in my car"

"I had to get out"


"15 an hour to come here"

"she works hospitals so yah she does fine there"

It drives me nuts the way he keeps jumping back-and-forth, referring to Asheville has "Here" and then "There."  I guess that's because he lives in Asheville, but was in Florida looking for a job while we were messaging each other?

And while I didn't quite get him to straight-up blame his wife for more of his problems, I like it that she "does fine" in Asheville.  She's probably cool.  Frankly, I was surprised to hear he was married.

I decided to see what his friend-making skills were like...


STU HELM - "Did you make a lot of friends in the restaurant biz here?

SEAN COOPER - "yes but none of them are there anymore

STU HELM  - "NONE of your friends still live in Asheville? That sucks for you. I'm sure you can;t wait to leave."

"I noticed that you and I have absolutely NO friends in common, which is really weird for any two people who live in Asheville, let alone two that should have a lot of mutual friend sin the Restaurant biz."

"Would you classify yourself as a person who has a hard time making friends?"


After 24 hours of without a response from Sean, I figured that I'd pushed my luck, and wrote one last note...


STU HELM - "So, I'm guessing by the silence that we're done?

Thanks for letting me interview you, Sean, it was fascinating. I'm going to write a piece about it and cut and paste most of what you've written above, with your full name credited, as we agreed.

"I want to be honest with you and let you know that despite the civil tone we've both taken in the messages above, that doesn't make us friends, and doesn't mean that you're un-banned from my FaceBook page.

"Your attitude and the way you express yourself is completely the opposite of everything that I believe in, and I still find your Trollish on-line behavior to be rude and extremely unlikable.

"In your screeds above, you have slagged the city I love, personally insulted some of my actual friends, expressed offensive, prejudicial, and elitist attitudes, and blamed everyone but yourself for all of your misfortunes.

"I fear that you will be met with nothing but similarly unfortunate situations for your entire life if you continue to have such an unbelievably negative and hostile attitude towards people and life in general.

"I moved to Asheville in 2005, literally spending all of my money to get here. I had nothing when I arrived. In the ensuing nine years, I have managed to work hard, pay my rent and bills on time, and have a lot of fun in a beautiful city full of friendly people and wonderful experiences.

"I know that with a negative mental attitude, none of that would have been possible. Being positive, friendly, and outgoing is the key to obtaining everything worth having in life.

"Good luck with your job search down in Florida, I hope you are able to move there as soon as possible."


I wasn't sure if I would hear back or not.  Then this came in...


SEAN COOPER - "Well that's your opinion and yor entitled to it"


And then this...

"Imnor negative just dont put up with ppl taking advatageof me. im nota jesus obsessedredbeckwhoturnsthwothercheeland takesit Up the ass.I'm from NY I don't put up with being taken advantage of"


And this...

"If you don't like how ppl see you town change it and clean it up"


And finally, most hilariously of all, this...


SEAN COOPER - "Well if your gonna me look like an ass I could care less but was typing on phone and didn't feel like spelling checking so could you at least spellcheck my stuff so I don't look like a moron"


Ho-o-o-o-ly SHIIIIIT! 

This guy.  In a very Rumpelstiltskinesque way, Sean had spun pure comedy gold with his finger tips, typing a stream of conscious thought that any normal person would be full of regrets about the next day... when the beer had turned itself into a hangover, and the memories came flooding in. 

While I found his non-stop whining on and on about his own sad, sorry lot in life to be highly amusing (and dreadfully boring at the same time), I was practically rolling on the floor when he asked me to "spellcheck" his writing!  Ha ha ha!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!


Because, y'see, why? On Earth?!?  Would I...  ever...


This guy.  This fuckin' guy expects me  --  a person he has insulted, a person who has just said to him, in so many words "I do not like you"  --  he expects ME to be the guardian of his public image, by spell-checking his screeds, so that he won't "look like a moron," because he "didn't feel like" doing it himself.  Heh...  heh heh... heh heh heh...


Ah...  This is fun, but even too much fun is just too much, so I gotta stop.  I'm gonna wrap it up now.

First, however,  I want to apologize to Chef Steven Goff of the King James Pub, The owners, managers, workers, and patrons of White Duck Taco, the staff, faculty, students and alumni of ABTech, the people of Mexico, and just about everyone else who might have cause to be offended by what Sean had to say.  He is, in my opinion (which he has graciously granted me permission to be entitled to) not worth listening to...  except for laughs. 

Finally, while I stand by my original statement to him that he seems like a complete turd of a person, I also appreciate him for coming out of the closet, removing the cloak of anonymity, and allowing us to examine him, but...  yeah...  ew. 

(Psst!  Sean...  put the cloak back on.)

EPILOGUE  - Sean tried to maintain our correspondence after the interview, until I had to straight-up tell him "there's no reason for you to contact me further."  He sent one last note that said, "ill just keep my mouth shut until the next time I see you out in public."

Oh, terrific.  Just what I fucking need. I guess if you poke enough Trolls, eventually one of them is gonna get threateny on you, but whatever, in the interest of fighting asshole-ism everywhere, I do what I gotta do.

The End