Chef Q + A with Daniel Wright of Tomato Jam Cafe

Chef Daniel Wright serves up spot-on Southern fare at the popular breakfast and lunch place, Tomato Jam Cafe. But as a semi-finalist in the WNC Chefs Challenge, he's shown that he can serve up a gourmet four-course dinner with the best of 'em. See what he has to say about the competition thus far, plus his favorite burger in Asheville.

AWFF: What's been the most challenging secret ingredient so far and why?

Chef Wright: Whole wheat crema wheat! This ingredient really seemed to have almost a negative flavor, taking away flavor from whatever I added to it.

What edge do you have in this competition?

My edge? I love being the underdog! I want to be the best and think that some teams maybe write us off because we are a little breakfast and lunch spot, but we have already proven we can hang with some of the best places around town. We love competition!

If you could smuggle in a special ingredient to use of your own, what would it be?

Smoked jalapenos! We smoke them over cherry wood at the café and they go into all kinds of sauces and sandwiches spreads. I can even think of some great dessert ideas...

Favorite beer or wine?

As far as beer that I don't brew myself goes, I like Dirty Bastard. It's brewed by Founders out of Michigan. I don't drink much wine but when I do its usually out of a mason jar and it's not wine.

Favorite place to eat in Asheville (other than yours, of course)?

Limones. I have never had anything less than an amazing meal there. I recommend them to people all the time. Only burger in town that can hang with ours.

Chef Wright goes up against Chef Steven Goff of Zambra on Tuesday, August 20 at Packs Tavern. You can dine and decide who wins! Get your tix here.