The traditional kickoff party, however, has always been the Thursday Night VIP party. It represents the perfect blend of music and culinary that the festival set out to become. The party has grown considerably over the past several years, expanding dramatically last year with the move to the Pratt Place in Fayetteville.
The VIP party traditionally featured a number of chef pairings at tasting stations along with a private concert for only the VIP pass holders. This year things have expanded to include 28 stations featuring 44 chefs and restaurants along with a good selection of craft beer and cocktails.
Typically the only way to get into the VIP party was to purchase a VIP pass, something that sells out almost immediately when the festival is announced. This year they are also including it in the $200 culinary pass option that also gets you into the launch party in Bentonville, The Food and Spirits programming, and the Tri Cycle Farms Jamboree.
Performing at the VIP Party this year is the Del McCoury Band, Flaco Jiménez, and the Charlie Hunter Trio. This year the performances are exclusive to the VIP party and cannot be found in any of the other Roots Festival programming.
The VIP Party is also the only place you can see and eat from all the participating chefs in one place at one time. This year’s VIP party culinary lineup includes:
GUEST CHEF STATIONS:
Chef Edward Lee (w/ Chef John Lupton, Wood Stone Pizza)
Chef Tandy Wilson (w/ Chef Matthew McClure, The Hive at 21C)
Chef Merlin Verrier (w/ Chef Patrick Lane, Arsaga’s Depot)
Chef Digby Stridiron & Chef Asha Gomez (w/ Chef Reed Faitak, Austin Daily Press)
Chef Shaun O’Neale (w/ Chef Joshua Walters)
Chef Anton Abrezov (w/ Chef Rob Nelson, Tusk & Trotter)
Chef Jennifer Hill Booker (w/ Chef Chrissy Sanderson, Mockingbird)
CHEF TASTING TENT:
Chef Matthew Bell (South on Main, Little Rock, AR) & Chef Travis McConnell (Pressroom, Bentonville, AR)
Chef Nico Albert (Tulsa, OK) & Chef William Lyle (The Summit, Tulsa, OK)
Chef Casey Copeland (The Avenue, Hot Springs, AR) & Chef Justus Moll (River Grille, Bentonville, AR)
Chef Michael Robertshaw (Three Cents an Acre, Rogers, AR) & Rafael Rios (Yeyo’s, Bentonville, AR)
Chef Darwin Beyer (Meiji, Fayetteville, AR) & Chef William McCormick (Eleven, Bentonville, AR)
Chef Matthew Cooper (Preacher’s Son, Bentonville, AR) & Chef Matt Barclay (Bordino’s, Fayetteville, AR)
Chef Jason Paul (Heirloom, Rogers, AR) & Chef Luke Wetzel (Oven & Tap, Bentonville, AR)
Chef Maudie Schmidt (Cafe Rue Orleans, Fayetteville, AR) & Chef Sean Sterling (Sai Wok, Rogers, AR)
“THE CHEF BOARD” TENT FEATURING:
Chef Kurt Plankenhorn (28 Springs, Siloam Springs, AR)
Chef Cody Johnson (Apple Blossom Bakery, Fayetteville, AR)
Chef Eric Medrano (Ella’s Restaurant, Fayetteville, AR)
Chef Mike Wilson (South in Your Mouth, Fayetteville, AR)
Sara Miller (Whole Foods Market)
Tessa McCormick (White River Creamery, Fayetteville, AR)
“THE SWEETS THINGS” TENTS:
Chef Phoebe Lawless (Scratch, Durham, NC)
Chef Anne Carroll (Farmer’s Table, Fayetteville, AR)
Chef Heather Artripe (Ozark Natural Foods)
Matt Feyerabend (Pure Joy Ice Cream, Siloam Springs, AR)
Lori Rae (Fork & Crust, Rogers, AR)
Amanda Robinson (Half Moon Pies, Fayetteville, AR)
Pedal Pops (Fayetteville, AR)
Grab your culinary pass tickets now. There are fewer than 30 remaining at the time of this writing, it will sell out soon.