The 9th Asheville Artisan Bread Bakers' Festival will feature the talents of three of the most respected bakers in the US – Craig Ponsford, Peter Reinhart, and Lionel Vatinet. The March 23, 2013 all-day event begins with a bread tasting and sale at the Magnolia Building on the A-B Tech campus in Asheville, NC from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hands-on workshops and lectures will take place from 9am to 6 p.m. at the same location.

The theme of this year's festival is “Artisan Bread from Local Grain and Local Flour”; this unique festival, the first of its kind in the southeast, has been overwhelmed with attendees for the past eight years. More than a dozen local artisan bakers will be showing, sampling and selling their bread this year.

“Asheville and its surrounding area, with a very small population, supports more artisan bakeries than most states," Reinhart says. "The bakeries are all small but truly artisan in the purest sense of the word."

Craig Ponsford graduated from the California Culinary Academy with top honors and opened Artisan Bakers with his family in Sonoma California in 1992. In 1996 his breads won the Gold medal at the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie in Paris. He then went on to coach the US Team to victory in 1999. He has coached each US team since and served as US judge at the 2002 and 2005 Coupe du Monde and 2007 Louis LeSaffe Cup held in Argentina. He currently is an instructor at the Culinary Institute of American in St. Helena, California and has his own bakery/innovation center, Ponsford’s Place, in his home town of San Rafael.