Tabasco Guardians of the Tradition: Chapel Hill, NC

The Southern Foodways Alliance honors the men, women and establishments who have served Chapel Hill as Tabasco Guardians of the Tradition.

“The heroes of our cuisine are often unsung and uncelebrated women and men,” said Lolis Eric Elie, the primary force behind the awards. “Their considerable skills tend not to be rewarded with the type of fame and fortune that is increasingly part and parcel of the white table cloth world of celebrity chefs and destination restaurants. Still, we recognize that they are the essential elements, the foundations of American cuisine in general and Southern cuisine in particular. So we have established the Tabasco Guardian of Tradition award, to be awarded at each Southern Foodways Alliance Field Trip.”

In September 2007 the SFA, along with members and friends, headed to Chapel Hill for the Camp Carolina field trip. Each of the Tabasco Guardians of the Tradition was presented with a special award designed by artist and MacArthur Grant recipient John T. Scott. And, of course, we collected their stories.

Featured here are three native North Carolinians, telling the stories of their lifework. Meet Keith Allen, who has manned the pits at Allen & Son Barbeque every day for close to forty years. Read about Cliff Collins’s long tenure in the meat cutting industry and find out how things have changed. And listen to Mildred Council, better known as Mama Dip, laugh about Craig Claiborne’s first visit to her restaurant. Meet the people who are the guardians of North Carolina’s foodways traditions.


JOHN T. SCOTT 1940-2007
It is with great sadness that we note the passing of artist John T. Scott. Mr. Scott, a native of New Orleans and recipient of a prestigious McArthur “Genius” Fellowship, created the print we use to celebrate the life and work of our Tabasco Guardians of the Tradition.

TAGS: North Carolina, restaurant, barbecue, Chapel Hill Eats, Allen & Son Barbeque, Cliff's Meat Market, Mama Dip's Traditional Country Cooking, butcher