Pinehurst Barbecue Festival unveils new culinary experience at SCC

Barbecue Reimagined, a unique culinary experience to be crafted by some of North Carolina’s top chefs and mixologists, is the latest addition to the fourth annual Pinehurst Barbecue Festival.

The new offering to the three-day festival over Labor Day weekend will take place Saturday, Aug. 31, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Sandhills Community College in Southern Pines.

The evening is presented by the community college and Got To Be NC, a branding arm of the state Department of Agriculture that connects local growers, producers and makers to communities.

Cape Fear Distillery, based in Elizabethtown, N.C., will also be on hand to highlight its extensive North Carolina-based alcohol portfolio, which now consists of nine different liquors with several more on the way.

Log on to to purchase tickets to the new event and other offerings during the Pinehurst Barbecue Festival, billed as a Celebration of Taste and Tradition, presented by US. Foods, Got To Be NC, Pinehurst Resort, Our State magazine and Carolina CoPacking.

Those attending the Barbecue Reimagined event at Sandhills Community College’s Dempsey Student Center will be treated to a twist on barbecue with international and local flair created by award-winning Got To Be NC ambassador chefs and mixologists. 

Chefs and mixologists participating in the Barbecue Reimagined event are all past award winners from the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association’s annual NCRLA Chef Showdown. Those participating — from Topsail Island to Asheville — will be challenged to create their own unique barbecue dish or pasty treat, which will then, in turn, be sampled throughout the night by those in attendance.

“It’s exciting for North Carolina’s diverse $103.2 billion agriculture industry and our state’s culinary talent to be represented during the Pinehurst Barbecue Festival,” said North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Got To Be NC culinary and mixology ambassadors will bring their own creative flair to the Barbecue Reimagined event. Those attending are in for a treat as North Carolina pork, beef, poultry, produce and food products will be showcased.”

Savory and pastry chefs, and mixologists committed to date include

• Luke Owens, Native Diner/Julep Contemporary Kitchen, Greenville.

• Savanna Brodar, Country Club of North Carolina, Pinehurst.

• Stephanie Elliott, Merle’s, Wilkesboro.

• Gerald Hawkins, Beach Shop & Grill, Topsail Beach.

• Tie Whittaker, Buttermilk Boutique, Clayton.

• David Bowen, Ginger Fox, Winston Salem.

• Seven Goff, Tastee Diner, Asheville.

 “The Pinehurst Barbecue Festival was founded on creative culinary excellence, so the inaugural Barbecue Reimagined concept of presenting North Carolina’s best-of-the-best chefs and mixologists in a challenging presentation of BBQ and beverage sampling will be an elevated foodie experience you won’t want to miss,” said state Department of Agriculture Foodservice Marketing Specialist Chad Blackwelder.

A team from Sandhills Community College Culinary Arts program will also be represented.     

“When you walk into President (Sandy) Stewart’s office at the college, you will see displayed many artifacts from his time as assistant commissioner for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, and featured prominently among them is the Got To Be NC logo, so when the Pinehurst Barbeque Festival approached us to host this event on campus and engage with our Culinary Program students and faculty, we knew it was meant to happen,” said Germaine Elkins, SCC VP of Institutional Advancement.

The roster of chefs and mixologists for the Barbecue Reimagined evening will be finalized soon and a menu set within the next or two months, Pinehurst Barbecue Festival officials said.

The Pinehurst Barbecue Festival continues to grow each year and has quickly become one of the best barbecue events in the state. The seven North Carolina pitmasters participating in the festival’s staple event — the Pitmaster Invitational presented by Lin Hutaff’s Pinehurst Realty Group on Sept. 1, 2024 — span the Tar Heel state from Charlotte to Greensboro to the Triangle to “Down East.”

Food Network TV personality and Prime Barbecue restaurant founder Christopher Prieto returns for a fourth year as the event’s headliner. The pitmaster roster from 2023 will be returning intact for this year’s festival to prepare mouthwatering BBQ pork, beef, poultry and so much more. That award-winning list includes the following:

• Christopher Prieto, Prime Barbecue, Knightdale, N.C.

• Adam Hughes, Old Colony Smokehouse, Edenton, N.C.

• Lewis Donald, Sweet Lew’s BBQ, Charlotte, N.C.

• Ron Simmons, Master Blend Family Farms, Kenansville, N.C.

• Keith Henning, Black Powder Smokehouse, Jamestown, N.C.

• Jake Wood, Lawrence Barbecue, Durham, N.C.

• Benjie Ayala, Pinehurst Brewing Co., Pinehurst, N.C.

Other scheduled events in the iconic Village of Pinehurst include the High on the Hog Gourmet Pitmaster Dinner on Friday, Aug. 30 at the Fair Barn, the “Q” School Grilling Class on Saturday, Aug. 31 at the Pinehurst Brewing Co., and Bourbon & Bites, which is also scheduled for Aug. 31 at the North & South Bar at The Manor.

All events require a separate ticket. There are a limited number of tickets assigned to each event, and most events sold out in 2023. Log on to for more information or to purchase tickets.

Feature photo: Last year’s Pinehurst Barbecue Festival. Photo by Sandhills Sentinel photographer Melissa Schaub.


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