Never Blue Takes the Gold

Jesse Roque of Never Blue is honored in a statewide competition.

Jesse Roque of Never Blue is honored in a statewide competition.

In July, Bold Life revealed the inventive new menu at downtown Hendersonville’s Never Blue, marked by local-ingredient tapas (Banh Mi Sliders, Korean Pork BBQ nachos) and a list of “adventurous tacos” that includes chapulines — i.e., crickets used as the main meat.

Owner/executive chef Jesse Roque has been recognized for her intrepid efforts, receiving a prestigious honor when she was recently crowned the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Chef of the Year. Roque picked up the award at the group’s annual Chef Showdown in Raleigh, besting competitors from some of the state’s most well-known restaurants.

Her winning dish was a candied-peach-and-whole-grain-mustard-glazed Pork Cheek Tostada with fried-okra shavings, queso blanco corn relish, dandelion quelites, and “Green Goddess” cream. All the fusion was comprised totally of NC-sourced ingredients. Among the regional farmers whose products Roque used are Grow Water Farms in Hendersonville, Moon Forest Farm in Saluda, and Johnson Family Farms.

“It was such an honor to be invited … and winning was certainly an amazing surprise,” says Roque. “All of the attendees and chefs were so supportive. The event was a super success … I am thrilled.”

119 S. Main St., Hendersonville, 828-693-4646;

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