World-class chefs highlight 2019 Fayetteville Roots Festival culinary lineup

Graham Elliot / Courtesy

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.

Deborah VanTrece / Courtesy

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 Jerrmy 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 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 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 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.

Jesse Griffiths / Courtesy

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

That’s not even the half of it.

The festival also includes a who’s who of Arkansas chefs, including Beard Award-nominee Matthew McClure of The Hive in Bentonville, Jason Paul of Heirloom in Rogers, Scott McGehee of Yellow Rocket Concepts in Little Rock, among several others.

The above chefs will appear at a host of food-related events at the festival, like the new Saturday event, Roots, Food & Spirits, that began last year featuring chef tasting stations, cooking demonstrations, local beer, wine, and cocktail pairings, and other food-related fun on the Pratt Place Inn and Barn property.

The Roots Festival will also bring back the Wednesday night chef dinner on Aug. 21 at The Hive in Bentonville, the annual Grand Tasting & VIP part at Pratt Place on Thursday, Aug. 22, chef master classes on Friday, Aug. 23, and the Jamboree event to close out the festival at Tri Cycle Farms on Sunday, Aug. 25.

We’ll have more information about all the food and events coming to this year’s festival as it gets a little closer, and you can check out the entire lineup of chefs coming to the event below.

For more information, including extensive bios on all the chefs of the 2019 festival, for additional info about Fayetteville Roots Festival’s culinary programming, or to purchase tickets to some of the dinners and events, visit

2019 Fayetteville Roots Festival Chef/Foodie Lineup

Graham Elliot – Chicago, IL
Georgia Pellegrini – New York, NY
Jesse Griffiths – Austin, TX
Deborah VanTrece – Atlanta, GA
Asha Gomez – Atlanta, GA
Colin Stringer – Oklahoma City, OK
Merlin Verrier – Denver, CO
Scott Winegard – Portland, OR
Logan Guleff – Memphis, TN
Sachin Chopra – San Matteo, CA
Rachel Belle – Seattle, WA
Jennifer Booker – Atlanta, GA
Crescent Dragonwagon – Fayetteville, AR
Levon Wallace – Nashville, TN
Andrew Curren – Austin, TX
Miranda Kaiser – Tulsa, OK
Jason Paul – Rogers, AR
Matthew Bell – Little Rock, AR
Scott McGehee – Little Rock, AR
Mark Hardin – Aspen, CO
Matt McClure – Bentonville, AR
John Lupton – Chicago, IL
Reed Faitak – Austin, TX
Tristan Lora – Austin, TX
William Lyle – Tulsa, OK
Casey Copeland – Hot Springs, AR
Michael Robertshaw – Rogers, AR
Brooks Cameron – Fayetteville, AR
William McCormick – Bentonville, AR
Matthew Cooper – Bentonville, AR
Miles James – Fayetteville, AR
Jules Carney – Little Rock, AR
Patrick Lane – Fayetteville, AR
Von Tyguen – Rogers, AR
Chrissy Sanderson – Fayetteville, AR
Justus Moll – Fayetteville, AR
Case Dighero – Fayetteville, AR
Trae Basore – Bella Vista, AR
Mollie Mullis – Bentonville, AR
Luke Wetzel – Bentonville, AR
Rob Nelson – Bentonville, AR
Kurt Plankenhorn – Fayetteville, AR
Rafael Rios – Bentonville, AR
Travis McConnell – Bentonville, AR
Darwin Beyer – Fayetteville, AR
Steven Brooks – Fayetteville, AR
Maudie Schmidt – Fayetteville, AR
Heather Artripe – Fayetteville, AR
Cody Johnson – Fayetteville, AR
Haley O’Brien – Bentonville, AR
Chad Hammontree – Fayetteville, AR
Jordan Wright – Springdale, AR
Matt Feyerabend – Siloam Springs, AR
Jessica Keahey – Bentonville, AR

This article is sponsored by First Security Bank. For more great stories of Arkansas food, travel, sports, music and more, visit