ilani BBQ Fest brings a weekend full of flames and flavor

Celebrity chefs, regional favorites plus more June 8 – 11

RIDGEFIELD, WA. (May 30, 2023) – ilani kicks off summer with the return of its annual BBQ Fest, held June 8–11. With a variety of events, BBQ fans can catch some of the nation’s top chefs and pitmasters show off their chops in one smokin’ hot weekend. Guests can take advantage of great drinks, mouthwatering barbecue, live entertainment and experience so much more.

Headlining the event are an impressive lineup of celebrity chefs and pitmasters including, James Beard award-winning chef and “Burgers, Brew & ‘Que” host Michael Symon, the culinary ambassador of Thai cuisine and television star Jet Tila, James Beard award-winning chef and New York Times bestselling author Rocco DiSpirito, BBQ expert and judge on Netflix’s hit show “American BBQ Showdown” Kevin Bludso, award-winning chef and barbecue competitor Christina Fitzgerald and Food Network stars Damaris Phillips and Aaron May. These culinary luminaries, accompanied by numerous celebrity and regional chefs, will take main stage throughout ilani BBQ Fest, offering tantalizing dishes and interactive cooking demonstrations.

Be prepared for an unforgettable weekend filled with amazing events and experiences. From tastings and dine-arounds to brunch and more, ilani BBQ Fest has something for everyone. All ilani BBQ Fest tickets, pricing and celebrity chef appearances are available at  Events include:

Bourbon & Barbecue Bites Tasting (June 8, 7 p.m.) – Kick off the festivities at Michael Jordan’s Steak House, where you can sample fine bourbon and barbecue delights alongside award-winning pitmaster Kevin Bludso and local culinary celebrities Mary Cressler and Sean Martin.

Party with the Pitmasters (June 9, 7 p.m.) – Get up close and personal with your favorite celebrity chefs in this intimate dine-around experience. Indulge in mouth-watering samples and drink pairings as the renowned pitmasters reimagine their famous barbecue dishes.

BBQ, Beer, Bubbles and Bloody Brunch (June 10-11, 10 a.m. and noon) – Who says you can’t have barbecue for breakfast? Join us for a classic homestyle barbecue brunch served up by your favorite celebrity chefs, including DiSpirito, Fitzgerald, Phil “The Grill” Johnson, Erica Blaire Roby, and more!

The Grand Tasting (June 10-11, noon to 6 p.m.) – The highlight of ilani BBQ Fest, The Grand Tasting, offers six hours of mouthwatering celebrity chef cooking demonstrations, delicious barbecue offerings from numerous competitors and vendors, hundreds of beer, wine, seltzer and spirit samples, and the Smokin’ Hot BBQ Championship. Don’t miss the chance for amateur pitmasters to compete and win a sizzling $15,000!

Lady Pitmaster Poolside Dine-Around Party (June 10, 7:30 p.m.) – New to ilani’s BBQ Fest, this elevated barbecue party takes place at the ilani Hotel pool. Join us and discover the fierce and inspiring women in barbecue as you enjoy delicious samples and signature drinks.

Operation BBQ Relief
CEO and co-founder of Operation BBQ Relief Stay Hays and his team at Operation BBQ Relief will be leading the BBQ Basics class and competition on Sunday, June 11. This four-hour course for first responders will teach the basics of barbecue and culminate in an action-packed competition with two $1,000 prizes up for grabs including $1,000 for the People’s Choice BBQ Basics Champion and $1,000 for the Judge’s Choice BBQ Basics Champion. First responders interested in participating in Operation BBQ Relief’s BBQ Basics can view additional information and register at

**Please note: schedule of events, locations and appearances are subject to change.

Located on the Cowlitz Reservation in Ridgefield, Washington, ilani, developed by the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and Salishan-Mohegan, a partnership that includes Mohegan Sun, one of the world’s foremost gaming and entertainment developers and operators, is the Pacific Northwest’s premier hotel, gaming, dining, entertainment and meeting destination. With nearly 400,000 total square feet, ilani includes a luxury hotel with deluxe amenities, more than 100,000 square feet of gaming space with nearly 3,000 slots and 75 gaming tables; 18 different restaurants, bars and retail outlets; and a 2,500-seat meeting and entertainment venue hosting nationally recognized performances. For more information, visit and follow ilani on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Lacy, Lauren

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