Chef William Dissen of The Market Place Restaurant draws upon his childhood on his grandmother’s farm and his firm belief that fresh is always better when designing his menus.
My earliest memories are with my grandmother on her farm. She was always cooking for so many people. No matter how many hungry mouths there were, she always had a spectacular feast of country cooking fresh from her garden. I used to sit in her kitchen and literally drool waiting for her buttermilk biscuits to be ready!
When I was 15, I started washing dishes at a local country club in Charleston, WV. There were always so many interesting people to meet, as well as so many great treats to be eaten. What could be better? I got paid for making (and eating) great food.
The Foodtopian Society was definitely an influence. I am originally from Charleston, WV in Northern Appalachia, so it felt a little like coming home when I decided to move here. Aside from the great mountains to play in, there is a spirit of appreciation for locally grown and cultivated foods and produce. As a chef, this is exactly what you are always striving to find—people who appreciate great, fresh food.
My philosophy begins with farm fresh ingredients. I look at it this way; my cuisine is always going to be best with fresh ingredients. For example, an ear of corn when ripe on the stalk is the freshest, sweetest and most colorful when it is still part of a growing plant. As soon as the ear of corn is picked, it begins to convert its natural sugars to starches. Thus, losing its flavor, color and most importantly taste.
So, “farm-to-table” is where is all begins. It is also about finding people who have a love for food. Because—just like my grandmother—cooking great food is always a labor of love. When we put our all into our work, it truly shines through.
I would have to say it depends what I am in the mood for cooking. I really like to experiment with food, flavors and ingredients. To me food is an evolution. I am always searching for the “perfect” dish. So, as far as a specialty, everything is special at The Market Place. We are constantly evolving our palates and ideas.
The Market Place has just reached its 30th anniversary. It is an icon in Western North Carolina for reaching out to local and regional farmers to provide our clients with extraordinary “farm-to-table” cuisine.
We are a casual fine dining establishment that prides itself on quality food, drink and service. Hospitality is what we do best. We also strive to be as sustainable as possible by decreasing our carbon footprint through the use of local ingredients, by recycling our waste and by using solar power to heat our water.
We strive to provide our clientele with as much local product as possible. We frequent farmers markets and tailgates. We constantly search for farmers who are willing to grow products especially for our creative menus. When perusing our menu, our guests will notice our logo—a simple radish. This radish notes menu items that consist of products grown or sourced within 100 miles from our restaurant.
Asheville is definitely a tourist town. It has a seasonality to it. With The Market Place Restaurant being a 30 year-old establishment, we have a clientele who know of us.
Asheville’s food scene has a kinetic energy. With great farmers, local palates interested in great food and celebrated chefs who create innovative cuisine; we are truly a great culinary location, a Foodtopian Society.