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Celebrity Chefs Coming to Fayetteville Roots Festival


The culinary lineup for this year’s Fayetteville Roots Festival is out and includes a list of world-renowned chefs, foodies and personalities.

The event, set for Aug. 22-25 in and around Fayetteville, includes Beard Award-nominee and television personality Graham Elliot, “Wild Food” star Georgia Pellegrini, Atlanta-based soul food chef and entrepreneur Deborah VanTrece, chef and cookbook author Asha Gomez, and Oklahoma City-based chef Colin Stringer.

The festival began in 2009 as a small event in the parking lot of Greenhouse Grille and has expanded to become a multi-day, multi-venue, multi-city event featuring some of the biggest names in roots music from around the country.

In addition to its reputation for music, the event has also expanded to garner quite the reputation for its annual chef lineup.

Food has always been a major part of the event. From the beginning, the chefs of the festival have received rock star billing along with the musicians. Instead of bringing in the carnival-style food vendors you’d expect to see at a multi-day music festival, co-founders Bryan Hembree and Jeremy Gawthrop hired local chefs using local farmers’ market ingredients to prepare the food even in the event’s early years.

That distinction immediately set the festival apart, and the focus on food has only expanded as the festival has gotten bigger.

And just as the music lineup has attracted larger names over the years, the chefs have also become more recognizable, coming from higher-profile restaurants from all over the country.

Well-known for his work on television on shows like Masterchef and Top Chef, as well as for his Chicago-based restaurant, Graham Elliot is as much of a household name as there is in the culinary world. Elliot is also the host of Major League Baseball’s Grub Tour where he serves as a culinary correspondent, as well as the culinary director of the Lollapalooza music festival.

Georgia Pellegrini, star of the show Wild Food trained as a chef at the French Culinary Institute and worked at the Gramercy Tavern and La Chassagnette in southern France. The chef and hunter is the author of the books “Modern Pioneering,” “Girl Hunter,” and “Food Heroes.” She currently lives in Austin, Texas.

Georgia Pellegrini / Courtesy

Jesse Griffiths also lives in Austin and is known for his restaurant Dai Due. He is an avid hunter and fisherman who utilizes his catches and kills in his restaurants.

Deborah VanTrece is a chef for the gourmet catering company, Edible Art Cafe, and is also known for her restaurant, Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours in Atlanta.

Asha Gomez is well-known for her Atlanta-based restaurant, Spice to Table, as well as for her penchant for mixing Indian flavors with more traditional dishes of the American South. She also cooked at the Roots Festival in 2018.

Chef Colin Stringer has drawn national attention for his Oklahoma City restaurant, Nonesuch. The restaurant, called an “avant-garde dining boutique,” offers a distinctive menu, and was recently named as the best new restaurant in America by Bon Appetit Magazine.

Other all-stars on the lineup include Denver chef Merlin Verrier, Scott Winegard of Portland Oregon, Logan Guleff of Memphis, Sachin Chopra of San Mateo, California, Jennifer Booker of Atlanta, Georgia, and Andrew Curren of Austin, Texas.

That’s not even the half of it.

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Dustin Bartholomew is the co-founder of Fayetteville Flyer, an online publication covering all things news, art and life in Fayetteville, Arkansas since 2007. A graduate of the Department of English at the University of Arkansas and a lifelong resident of the area, he still lives in east Fayetteville with his son Hudson, daughter Evelyn, his wife Brandy, and his two dogs Lily and Steve. On occasion, he tickles the ivories in a local band called The Good Fear.

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