Dig Baton Rouge

Dining Out: Salt & Smoke Festival coming to BR

Oysters on the half shell, chopped, pulled, any-way-you-want-it pork drenched in a North Carolina vinegar-based BBQ chili flake sauce, collard greens, “hoppin’ John,” (pretty much black eyed peas), pickled tomatoes, gooey mac n’ cheese, coleslaw and some buttermilk cornbread. Is your mouth watering yet? This is the food that will be served to you at Salt & Smoke Festival this Saturday, April 23.

North Carolina-based company Acme Food & Beverage is traveling over 900 miles to bring Baton Rouge a ton of barbecue. Salt & Smoke originally was just a get together with some friends in Orange County, North Carolina, owner and chef of Acme, Kevin Callaghan said. It morphed into a bigger and better event each year. According to Callaghan, people told him they wanted more. Eventually, the festival started traveling, attracting BBQ lovers from all over the Southeast.

The oysters are from the crisply cold waters of the East Coast shores of Virginia. This is a very old area for oysters, and they have been sold from Miami to Boston “because they are that good,” Callaghan said. The pork comes from an entire hog roasted the night before. Callaghan said it takes 11-14 hours to fully cook the hog. Once the hog is ready, the sauce is applied by mopping, with a full mop, onto the meat; then they chop the pork and apply more sauce.

“We can’t wait,” Callaghan said, “I know these people know what good food tastes like; after all, we are going to Baton Rouge—heart of the food world.”

Callaghan and his crew are excited to make the 14-hour journey down to our city. He said he is mostly looking forward to people appreciating the tradition and the delicious taste of his food. He wants people, no matter where they are from, to take a bite and be in awe of how tasty this BBQ is, Callaghan said.

The festival will take place at Tin Roof Brewing Co. in Baton Rouge, which means beer will be part of the event. Tin Roof is releasing its brand new seasonal Rusted Rye IPA, and also providing a few other specialty beers, said Director of Marketing and Special Events Rivers Hughey.

Callaghan was born and raised in the South. Salt & Smoke is a way for him to create a celebration of being southern, Hughey said.

“He’s an incredible chef and loves throwing parties,” Hughey said.

Salt & Smoke chose to have this festival at Tin Roof because Callaghan is old friends with William McGehee, co-owner of Tin Roof. McGehee and Callaghan were both picked by Lululemon Athletica for being important “makers.” They defined “maker” as any creative individual or business owner who spent their time making something special for their specific community, Hughey said. For example, coffee roasters, brewers, painters, and chefs.

“We want to put care and love on every plate,” Callaghan said. That is why there is a 350-person limit for wristbands into the festival. Callaghan and the volunteers want to be able to fairly serve everyone and do a good job with it. At some point, there are too many bodies, and you just find yourself stuck in a line, Callaghan said this is what they are trying to avoid.

“It will be a three-hour party with good music and fun times with friends on a spring afternoon,” Callaghan said.

Salt & Smoke Festival is Saturday, April 23, 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Tin Roof Brewing Company. Tickets are $45 online or $50 at the door. The event is open to the public, but a wristband includes a hefty plate of the delicious foods named above, and a Salt & Smoke beer glass. Bluegrass band, The Fugitive Poets, will bring the tunes.

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