Ocracoke Fig Festival to host celebrated N.C. chef Bill Smith on Aug. 4-5

Ocracoke Fig Festival to host celebrated N.C. chef Bill Smith on Aug. 4-5

February 22nd, 2023

The Ocracoke community will celebrate the summer’s fig bounty with renowned southern chef Bill Smith,  special guest at the island’s 9th annual Fig Festival.

Chef Bill Smith.

The festival will take place the weekend of August 4-5,  with a private  “Higo Latino” dinner with Smith on Wednesday, August 2. Tickets for the dinner will go on sale July 1.

The Fig Festival will take place at the Berkley Barn, Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum, and the Ocracoke Community Center. Events include live music, traditional Ocracoke square dancing, children’s crafts, talks by local fig experts, and vendor booths offering fig preserves, fig cakes, fig trees, local cookbooks, and other fig-themed items. The finale will be a dance with the Ocracoke Rockers.

Bill Smith is the author of two cookbooks, the New York Times Notable and Food & Wine Best-of-the-Best cookbook Seasoned in the South and the bestselling Savor the South title, Crabs & Oysters, and many articles and essays in various magazines and journals.

In 2019, he retired after twenty-five years as head chef at the legendary Crook’s Corner Restaurant in Chapel Hill, N.C.  Crook’s Corner gained national renown as one of the South’s liveliest and most innovative kitchens. The New York Times called it “sacred ground for Southern foodies.”

Smith received several nominations from the James Beard Foundation for Best Chef Southeast and served for six years on the board of the Southern Foodways Alliance. In 2021, he received the Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award from that organization.

Public events with chef Smith include a cookbook-signing on Friday afternoon and a public Q & A on Saturday. He will also serve as a guest judge at the Fig Cake Bake-Off, the showpiece of the Fig Festival, on Saturday afternoon.

All are welcome to submit a cake in one or all categories: Traditional, Innovative, Youth (15 and younger), or the special category for 2023: Savory Figs – any savory dish that incorporates figs. 

The Traditional category is limited to the old-fashioned recipe, available in local cookbooks. Innovative entries must be desserts; anything goes in the Youth category as long as it includes figs.

During the week leading up to the Fig Festival, island eateries will offer fig-infused menu items both savory and sweet. Local shops will also carry jars of this year’s fig preserves, allowing guests to take home an Ocracoke specialty. 

The Ocracoke Fig Festival is sponsored by Ocracoke Preservation Society. For more information, contact Sundae Horn (252-921-0283), Andrea Powers (252-928-7375), or info@ocracokepreservation.org.

Founded in 1983, The Ocracoke Preservation Society is a non-profit, community-based organization dedicated to the preservation of Ocracoke Island’s rich historical and cultural heritage.

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