Inez Ribustello got her start in the world of food and wine after moving to New York City from her home state of North Carolina. Though she grew up in the small town of Tarboro, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1998 with a degree in journalism, her dream was to pursue a career in cooking. She chose New York’s Institute of Culinary Education to get her started. There, she began to learn about wine, which inspired her to take a job at Best Cellars, the groundbreaking, mid-priced wine storeon Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Her wine career took a huge leap forward when she became an Assistant Cellar Master at the renowned World Trade Center restaurant Windows on the World. In a very short time, she was promoted to Beverage Director, putting her in the position as wine buyer for the largest grossing restaurant in North America. It was here where she met her now-husband, Stephen.
The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 impacted her both personally and professionally. Having lost friends, colleagues and her job in the bombing, she had to face her future. She chose to throw herself into her work and took the position of Beverage Director for Blue Fin Restaurant in the W Hotel-Times Square. At Blue Fin, she created a 500-label wine list, including more than
50 wines by the glass, and developed a cocktail list that received rave reviews from New York magazine.
Having conquered New York, her next move was to return to her hometown with her ﬁancé.
Together they decided to open their own restaurant, wine bar and retail store called On the Square. The wine list at On the Square holds the prestigious Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator.
Stephen and Inez oversee every aspect of their restaurant while raising their 2 children Cynthia and Stephen.
In 2009, Inez placed 2nd runner-up in the Best Sommelier in America competition held in New York City. She is a member of the Alumni Hall of Fame for the Institute of Culinary Education and a graduate of the Court of Master Sommelier’s Advanced Exam.
Inez’ next big venture was Tarboro Brewing Company, a microbrewery that started brewing in February of 2016. Almost a year later, she and her husband opened a satellite taproom serving tacos in the Rocky Mount Mills. Needless to say, creating businesses in eastern North Carolina keeps them very busy.
Over 20 immersive signature events are featured throughout the weekend! Tours, dinners, parties, foraging and more await.
This inspired, friendly and free-spirited food scene tucked in the mountains of Appalachia has been called “Foodtopia,” but the locals just call it home. Plan your trip now.
Access to affordable and healthy food and reducing food waste are important initiatives of the signature event’s charitable giving goals.