Jeff is a self-taught chef and restaurateur with 30 years in the industry. After cooking to pay for college, he left his home state of Iowa on a journey through fine-dining kitchens across the country. He spent three years in Durham cooking at acclaimed restaurants Nana’s and The Magnolia Grill. While in the Triangle, Jeff fell in love with NC barbecue, touring the back roads of Eastern Carolina on his days off, questing for great ‘cue.
He moved west where he worked and studied under the wings of James Beard Award winning chefs in Napa Valley and the Bay Area. He moved on to Montana as Executive Chef at a luxury guest lodge and was featured on the Fine Living Network, the Travel Channel and in Bon Appetit Magazine.
His love for the heritage and depth of traditional Southern flavors simmered. Barbecue was calling. He hung up the starched white chef coat and assumed the moniker of Proprietor & Pit-boss. He returned to North Carolina in 2007 and the original Luella’s Bar-B-Que was born.
Jeff and his wife Ashley are Luella’s co-owners and when they’re not parenting four children, they’re enjoying the outdoors, live music, and the craft brew scene. Jeff’s passion for cooking and music has led to guest chef gigs on Cloud 9 Adventures Jam Cruise, Avetts at the Beach and caters barbecue for talent and patrons of the annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam.
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.