First of all, "the Carolinas" is not a state. There is North Carolina and South Carolina-two different states with differing food traditions and sensibilities. Whatever you do, ignore the northern tendency to equate a southern accent with ignorance and lack of sophistication.
Southern people are gracious, friendly, generous, hospitable and proud of their history, fortitude and traditions. The region has made significant contributions to the American palate which are indigenous and genuine-not remakes originating from recent european immigrants. The last thing you want to do is arrive in town and come across as a big city chef that knows more than these ignorant southerners how to "properly" prepare a dish, yet unaware of the general tastes and food attitudes of the native people. Prepare to eliminate "in Boston we have ...." or "in NY there are always xxx available...." from your vernacular. Take a look around, you are not in Boston or NY.
Having grown up in NC and been a chef and director of food services in a number of differing venues, I'll let you know that there are certain southern style foods that people cling to with an almost religious zeal. Barbecue is one of them- not grilled foods, but barbecue, which in NC & SC means smoked pork. (Charlotte, by the way, is kind of a barbecue neatherland) It generally includes ribs (kind of as an aside or appetizer) but the ribs are not the main event-pulled or chopped meat is. Barbecue and it's sauce varies significantly from region to region-eastern NC is very different from western NC and again is very different from SC styles of barbecue. There are others that my friends here in NY are always mystified by when I serve them-pimiento cheese, macaroni salad, brunswick stew, cream cheese and pepper relish and buttermilk pie.
Southerners, especially those in NC, while they cling to their food traditions are always open to new and amazing food preparations. Look at the success of places run by chefs such as Ben and Linda Barker, Bill Neal, Scott Howell, and may others. You will find beautiful and sophisticated preparations that give a nod to southern traditions, but have been taken to an entirely new level. I've been away for 10 years and always look for a chance to visit and see the new developments.
Also, prepare yourself for significant restrictions on your water usage. Multi year drought is devastating the area.