Press Release: Santa Maria Barbecue!

Media Contact: Nicole Shearer,


Sizzle Central returns to Santa Maria Valley this May
California’s cut refuses to stay in the shadows, inviting all to experience the culinary delight that is Santa Maria Style barbecue.


April 24, 2024 (Santa Maria, Calif.) – Unapologetically unscripted and unpretentious, Santa Maria Valley will again transform into Sizzle Central for National Barbecue Month. This May, the birthplace of the California Central Coast’s iconic cut will celebrate more than 150 years of untamed spice by dishing out all things Santa Maria Style barbecue, including stories of its humble beginnings, authentic techniques and mouthwatering events. Buckle up, because in Santa Maria Valley, juicy red-oak-smoked tri-tip is enhanced by pinquito beans, garlic bread and a whole lot of flavor.


In Santa Maria Valley, barbecue isn’t just a smokeshow—it’s decadently seasoned tri-tip, cooked to perfection over red-oak-fired coals, made complete with a side of pinquito beans, fresh salsa, a simple green salad and perhaps a glass of award-winning Santa Maria Valley wine.


The Santa Maria Barbecue Festival attracts hundreds each year to celebrate this delicious pillar of Central Coast culture. Local celebrity judges decide on the Best Barbecue in Santa Maria Valley as businesses and culinary professionals compete for the first-place Branding Iron award. There is also a separate competition for “best backyard cook.” This year, the Barbecue Festival, taking place May 11, will be a 21-and-over event, with attendees being able to sample both barbecue and craft beer.


“Santa Maria Style barbecue is set apart by the locally harvested red oak used to give the meat its signature smoky flavor,” said Jaime Flores, Santa Maria Valley pit master and founder of the Santa Maria Barbecue Festival. “That red oak flavor is complemented by a simple dry seasoning of salt, pepper and garlic. We cook Santa Maria Style barbecue over an open pit fire, which locks in all the juices of the proteins—so there’s no need for sauce.”


What is sometimes referred to as “THE California barbecue,” Santa Maria Style stems from the California Central Coast’s rich history of rancheros. Beginning in the mid-1800s, local ranchers would host Spanish-style feasts each spring to show gratitude towards their fellow vaqueros (America’s first cowboys), barbecuing meat over earthen pits filled with hot red-oak coals.


“Here, Santa Maria Style barbecue is more than a regional dish. It’s a storied tradition passed down through generations,” said Jennifer Harrison, director of tourism for Visit Santa Maria Valley. “Santa Maria Style barbecue is something families have been doing together for more than a century. We know that what we have here is special, and becoming Sizzle Central lets us share this quintessential part of our culture with the world.”


It’s time to expose California’s best-kept secret

While Santa Maria Style barbecue is one of the oldest styles of barbecue in the country, someone has been trying to cool its flame. Santa Maria Valley attempted to unravel the cover-up in MISSING: A True Crime Barbecue podcast.


During the month of May, Santa Maria Valley will be sharing the techniques that make this dish tick on Instagram and TikTok @SantaMariaValley. The Santa Maria Style Cookbook, full of recipes and tips, is also available to download for free so grill masters everywhere can recreate the magic of Santa Maria Style barbecue at home.


Experience Santa Maria Style barbecue in-person or at home, for the first time or the umpteenth (seriously, it never gets old), by visiting


With 15 beaches and 34 wine tasting rooms all within a 30-minute drive, Santa Maria Valley is the perfect home base to taste award-winning wine and real Santa Maria Style barbecue at an unpretentious price. Explore all you can do in and around the valley. For more information, visit




Media Note: Media interested in getting tips from a pit master or learning how Santa Maria Valley wine pairs with mouthwatering Santa Maria Style barbecue can email for more information. Media familiarization tours are available for interested media on assignment.


Photo Cutline: This May, Santa Maria Valley celebrates National Barbecue Month as Sizzle Central.

About Santa Maria Valley:

Serving the greater Santa Maria Valley in the heart of California’s Central Coast, the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau is a nonprofit association that facilitates local tourism and provides information on the region’s many attractions and visitor services. Famed for its fine wines, natural wonders, agricultural heritage and flavorful barbecue, the Santa Maria Valley offers a broad range of cultural, sporting and historical experiences. For details on Santa Maria Valley lodging, wine tasting, travel deals and e-newsletter alerts, visit or call (800) 331-3779.



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