John Fleer

Rhubarb, The Rhu Bakery & Benne on Eagle  |  Asheville, NC

A native of Winston-Salem, John was named one of the “Rising Stars of the 21st Century” by the James Beard Foundation and is a five-time finalist, most recently in 2017, for the James Beard Best Chef: Southeast award.


As executive chef at Blackberry Farm from 1992 until 2007, John helped establish the unique “foothills cuisine,” which wandered the line between refined and rugged, fancy and familiar. Under his leadership, the Tennessee destination was honored by Zagat Survey in 2003 and 2004 as #1 Small Hotel in America and #2 Hotel Dining in America.



In 2009, John opened Canyon Kitchen at Lonesome Valley in Cashiers. John left Canyon Kitchen in 2015 to open and devote his time to Rhubarb.

 At Rhubarb, which opened its doors in 2013, John brings the relaxed atmosphere of his previous pastoral posts to bustling Pack Square, broadening his approach with a freestyle American cuisine well suited for its location at Asheville’s vibrant crossroad. In 2015, John added a private event space to the Rhubarb family. Shortly thereafter, The Rhu opened its doors – a companion bakery, cafe and pantry.     

In 2018, John opened Benne on Eagle and actively sought team members to partner with him in shaping the menu to honor soul food, and in particular, how it relates to Appalachia and Asheville specifically. Maintaining the exclusive focus on seasonal and local ingredients that he established at Rhubarb, John works hand-in-hand with Ashleigh Shanti, chef de cuisine, and Hanan Shabazz, culinary mentor.


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John is participating in the Tribute Dinner for Karen Barker on Friday, October 18.