Page 1


Soups for the Season page 22





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eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 3

Transforming the essence of Mediterranean food and Southern classics


CONTENTS October/November 2016 • Volume 5 Number 6


in this issue 14 WHAT’S HOT Pumpkin Cheesecake

18 CHEF’S CORNER Food Evokes Feelings of Euphoria for Chef Cole Ellis

27 KING OF SEAFOOD Chef Alex Eaton Takes Crown at Great American Seafood Cook-off


34 FOOD REVOLUTION Local Farmers and Producers Are Changing How Mississippians Eat With Top Quality Food Products

38 COMMUNITY The Social Supper


40 TRIED & TRUE Passed-down Recipe for Chicken Pie Is a Thanksgiving Tradition eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 5

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CONTENTS October/November 2016


58 69

44 IN THE BLOGLIGHT Wherever I May Roam

46 FROM MISSISSIPPI TO BEYOND Natchez Nurtured Jeffrey Gardner’s Path to Food Career


65 CAPITAL/RIVER The Town of Livingston

72 COASTAL Tasty Tails in Biloxi

76 FEATURED EVENT Vardaman Sweet Potato Festival

Delta Hot Tamales - Anne Martin

52 RAISE YOUR GLASS Pumpkin Pie Eggnog

54 THE HILLS Southern Eatery in Holly Springs

58 THE DELTA CRAVE Bistro/Cupcakery in Cleveland

62 THE PINES Skidmore’s Grill in Shubuta

in every issue 8 From the Publisher 10 From Our Readers 16 Fabulous Foodie Finds 20 Deep South Dish 78 Events 80 Recipe/Ad Index 82 Till We Eat Again

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 7

{ from the publisher }


ho doesn’t love a good road trip? Long or short, I know I do. While there’s so much to see and do in our great country, we must not overlook the wonders in our own backyards here in the Magnolia State. When time allows, I enjoy getting off the beaten path in order to experience the beauty that our state beholds. This summer, I covered all five travel regions of the state in search of delicious destinations to share with you. Most of the miles were logged on back roads and byways, passing through quaint small towns and communities, some of which I never knew existed. I’m perpetually awed by the vast difference in the landscapes of the regions. Life goes by entirely too fast. One way to make it slow down is by traveling the Natchez Trace Parkway. With a maximum speed limit of 50 mph, you have no choice but to take it easy and take in the scenery. The section that winds around the northwestern edge of the Ross Barnett Reservoir offers breathtaking views of Jackson’s “big water.” A visit to the Gulf Coast isn’t complete without a cruise along Highway 90. The devastation from Hurricane Katrina is slowly fading away. It’s a joyous sight to see the rebirth of the Coast in the picturesque towns that dot the coastline. And the culinary scene down there is exploding with new restaurants. Eating fresh Gulf seafood right on the Gulf is a dining experience everyone should partake in.

The Delta is a world of its own. A drive along the “blues highway,” Highway 61, will keep you from having the blues. Don’t drive through the Delta without a taste of worldfamous hot tamales. Be adventurous by seeking out a deep-fried hot tamale or a sweet and tangy kool-aid pickle. And the sunsets, words can’t describe how gorgeous they are. My favorites are those set above a pristine field of cotton and a golden field of sunflowers. If you can’t visit there any time soon, do a web search for “Delta sunsets” and prepare to be taken aback by the stunning images photographers have been able to capture. With its crisp air and colorful foliage, fall is the ideal time to soak up the beautiful Mississippi scenery. Grab your keys, hit the back roads, and let's eat!

Some of the best bites from my recent travels include, from left, Southern Style BBQ Shrimp Po Boy from Hook in Pass Christian, Fried Hot Tamales with Comeback Sauce from Farmer’s Grocery in Grace, and Banoffee Dessert Jar from Fenian’s Pub in Jackson.

hospitality.” q "When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practiceRomans 12:13 r EAT DRINK MISSISSIPPI (USPS 17200) is published bi-monthly by Carney Publications LLC, 296 F.E. Sellers Hwy., Monticello, MS 39654-9555. Periodicals postage paid at Monticello, MS, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to EAT DRINK MISSISSIPPI, 4500 I 55 N Ste 253, Jackson, MS 39211.


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{ from our readers } Thank you very much for the magazines you recently sent. It is a very well written and designed “road map” of Mississippi’s culinary elevations and destinations. Splendid publication that does Mississippi right! Also, thanks for the exposure your publication afforded our farm, our rice, and our industry. Rice is the universal culinary and dietary thread that weaves together more peoples’ lives than any other. Mississippi rice is among the world’s best, and we firmly believe that our farm’s unique cultural practices and the kind of rice we grow elevates that rice to the top. I thank you, and my son Lawrence (11th consecutive farming generation) thanks you. Your writers do a fine job. I really enjoyed working with Mrs. Marquez and her product exposes her talent. I read all the articles, and all tastefully done. Mike Wagner Mississippi Blue Rice Sumner

Really enjoy your magazine. We keep every issue and use it as a guide when we travel Mississippi. Clyde Ballard Jackson ••• I picked up one of your magazines recently and just love it. I lived in Canton a few years and was born in Meridian, so I have a love for Mississippi, even after living in Louisiana most of my life. This is a publication that definitely makes you feel good inside. It has a distinct “homey” feeling. Thank you for a great publication. Jane Prager Mandeville, La. ••• Love, love your magazine! Catherine Pritchard Sarasota, Fla.


eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI J.J. Carney Publisher/Editor John Carney Executive Editor Anne Morgan Carney Executive Assistant Wendi O'Neill Advertising Executive Joe Luca Newsstand Sales Consultant


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{contributors} BRITTANY BROWN, a native of Quitman, is a sophomore Broadcast Journalism major, Anthropology minor at the University of Mississippi. She is involved in many organizations on campus, such as RebelTHON, Green Grove Initiative, Big Event, Pride of the South Marching Band, Latin American Student Organization, Black Student Union, the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, Orientation Leader, and the Daily Mississippian. She is a budding journalist and has written for the Meridian Star and the Quitman School District website. She is currently working for the nationally ranked Daily Mississippian, the only daily college newspaper in the state. JULIAN BRUNT is a food and culture writer from the Gulf Coast whose roots run more than three hundred years deep in Southern soil. He is deeply concerned with culinary and cultural traditions and thinks no man worth his salt that cannot hold forth in tall tale and willingly endure the heat of the kitchen. LISA LAFONTAINE BYNUM is a freelance writer from Grenada. Her work has appeared in several publications in Mississippi. She is a graduate of Delta State University where she received a BA in Marketing and her MBA. In her free time, she enjoys food writing and photography. She currently resides in Brandon. Photo by Alisa Chapman Photography COOP COOPER is a journalist, film critic and filmmaker based in Clarksdale. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a B.F.A. in Cinema, and received his Masters in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Hollywood. You can read his past film-related articles at

BRIAN LAMAR hails from Gulfport and has been food writing for the last 18 years getting his start out of frustration for being a poor Pvt. in the Army and couldn’t afford a nice meal in a restaurant. He found out quickly he could use his writing to gain access to wonderful restaurants. He has written about food on the East Coast, Deep South, West Coast, and Europe. SUSAN MARQUEZ lives and writes in Madison. She has a degree in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Southern Mississippi and had a long career in advertising and marketing before stumbling into a freelance writing career in 2001. Hundreds of published articles later, Marquez still loves to tell the stories of the interesting people, places, and events throughout the South. KATHY K. MARTIN is an Ole Miss journalism graduate who currently lives in Collierville, Tennessee with her husband and two children. She works as a freelance writer and chairs her church’s Christian writers group. GENNIE TAYLOR, a native of Forest, is a technical writer for CACI, Inc. in Fayetteville, N.C. and a freelance writer, graphic designer, and photographer. She previously served as the publications coordinator at East Central Community College in Decatur. She is the former editor of The Demopolis Times in Demopolis, Ala. and former managing editor of The Scott County Times in Forest. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism, she has received numerous awards from the Associated Press and the Mississippi and Alabama Press Associations. She and her husband, Steven, have one daughter, Mallory. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading and cooking.


JANETTE TIBBETTS is a ninth generation Mississippian. She grew up on a Jones County dairy farm, attended Millsaps, taught school, and was a merchant. She is the founder and curator of “The Sandbank,” a Beatrix Potter Collection, at USM. She is a freelance writer and photographer. Janette writes weekly garden and food columns for magazines and newspapers. She was awarded a writer’s grant from the Mississippi Art’s Commission and the National Endowment of the Arts. She lives with her husband, Jon, and writes in their home near Hattiesburg. A published author of short stories, she is presently completing a novel. KELSEY WELLS is a news writer at Lawrence County Press in Monticello. She is a graduate of Southwest Mississippi Community College where she served as editor of The Pine Burr. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communications at William Carey University and served as a staff writer and life editor of The Cobbler student newspaper until she became managing editor her senior year. She currently resides in the Divide community where she is active in her church and community. KATIE HUTSON WEST is a freelance writer from Tupelo. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University where she earned a B.S. degree in Marketing, Communications, and Business Psychology. An avid traveler, when home she resides in Starkville. MEGAN WOLFE is a freelance writer and photojournalist from San Francisco. Her work can regularly be found in the Collierville Herald, The South Reporter, and other mid-South publications. She is currently based in Holly Springs, where she spends her free time creating multimedia projects to promote community events and the local arts.

The Perfect Gift

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{ what's hot }

Add Something New to Your Pumpkin Repertoire

Pumpkins are readily available in fall, when people carve jack-olanterns out of pumpkins for Halloween or serve up pumpkin pie after a hearty Thanksgiving dinner. But people who are unsatisfied with plain old pumpkin pie can add something new to their repertoire this fall by cooking up the following recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust, courtesy of Lori Longbotham’s Luscious Creamy Desserts (Chronicle Books).

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust Serves 8 to 10 Crust 1-1/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs 1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 1/4 cup sugar Filling 1-1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 1/4 cup granulated sugar 2 large eggs 2 large egg yolks 1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice


1 cup solid-pack pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix) 1/2 cup crème fraîche, homemade (see below) or store-bought, or sour cream 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly butter an 8- or 8-1/2-inch springform pan. To make the crust: Stir together all of the ingredients in a medium bowl until the crumbs are moistened. Press the mixture over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Increase the oven temperature to 425 F. To make the filling: With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream

cheese, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large deep bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and then the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and pumpkin pie spice and beat on low speed until just combined. Add the pumpkin purée, crème fraîche and vanilla, and beat until just combined. Pour the filling into the shell. Place the cheesecake on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 250 F and continue baking for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 2-1/2 hours. Then transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate, tightly covered, for at least 10 hours, until thoroughly chilled and set, or for up to 2 days. To serve, run a knife around the side of the cheesecake and remove the side of the pan. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature, cut into thin wedges with a sharp knife dipped into hot water and wiped dry after each cut.

Crème Fraîche Makes about 1/2 cup 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream with live cultures Pour the cream into a glass jar

with a tight-fitting lid and spoon in the crème fraîche. Let sit on the counter, with the lid slightly ajar, until the mixture thickens, from 4 to 24 hours, depending on the weather. Refrigerate, tightly covered, until ready to use.

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{ fabulous foodie finds }


The air is crisp, the leaves are changing, and football is in full swing. It’s fall, y’all! That also means it’s pumpkin everything season. To help you get into the spirit of the autumn season, we’ve harvested some of our favorite pumpkin products to share with you.

Fall Pumpkins in Gray Glaze Small $34.00, Large $68.00 Etta B Pottery

Charles Viancin Pumpkin Lid, $8.95 - $13.95 The Kitchen Table, Hattiesburg Pumpkin Loaf Pan, $37.50 Nordic Ware 16 • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016

Pumpkin Spice Latte Mug, $6.99 Kirkland’s

Pumpkin Spice Vodka Cathead Distilleries

Pumpkin Dishtowel, $10.00 Tag Home Decor

see page 80 for store information

Pumpkin Cheese Board, $40.00 Sur La Table

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 17

{ chef's corner }

Food Evokes Feelings of Euphoria story by chef cole ellis | photography by grant ellis


have always thought of myself as a curious person who loves to discover and learn. My parents worked really hard to support and raise my siblings and me. So, my mom went back to school to further her career. That is when my curiosity led me to the kitchen. I found myself easily captivated and intrigued by the sizzling stove, the many aromas, and all the different flavors that can come from it. The kitchen and cooking still evoke those very special feelings for me (well, aside from that one Thanksgiving I decided to debone and sous vide fifty turkeys) and I’m thankful for that. Food is about feeling. Sourcing the food, cooking the food, presenting the food, and eating or serving that food; it’s all about the feeling. There is this joyful sense of pride I get seeing the table once a great meal has been prepared, and it doesn’t get old. I love when it is so easy to see and feel how much others enjoy a dish or a meal. You get to feel how much wonder that they’re feeling from the food. It’s very meta, I know. Maybe that is why history tells us that since the discovery of fire, man has taken to “break bread” together. Food and the feelings it elicits are best enjoyed amongst others. Why do moms and grandmas always push food on you? It’s because they love to take care of the people that are important to them and how better to do that than by fulfilling one of life’s most obvious needs? We all have to eat and the feeling you get from making sure others are nourished and nourished well is sweet. One of my favorite reasons I cook is the feeling of reward. We have a fascinating way of re-creating and evolving this experience of food. When I was a kid, like many of you, I was given a reward, often in the form of a special food or sweet, when I did something good or that my parents approved of. When I got older and started cooking myself, another reward became how much better the food tasted when I’d taken the time and effort to cook it myself. Think of how sweet the champagne tastes when it’s a “reward” from celebrating a special event or how much more delicious the chocolate cake tastes when it’s to celebrate the completion of a challenging week or a… diet. These days, the planning, purchasing, and preparing of food takes up an enormous amount of my time. I don’t resent it. It’s another opportunity to embrace the world of food and (you guessed it) the feelings it arouses. I like the idea of the slow movement, of selecting lovely fresh ingredients, taking them home or getting them delivered to the shop, and preparing something delicious to feed others. You can tell from my whole demeanor how excited I get when I’m able to get that extra fresh fish, that rare mushroom, or that hog finished off on a hazelnut diet. Don’t get me wrong, when it’s just my kids eating I do trot out certain kid standards – the faithful


Chef Cole Ellis chicken finger or spaghetti and marinara– but I do try to push their eating boundaries often. As the father of two young girls though, sometimes the feelings I feel in that battle are defeat. Lastly, I cook in hopes it will inspire others to cook. Maybe by teaching others I will be able to help generate the same feelings I have had for so many years. I know I feel great when I pass along a skill, help light a fire, or see passion in a new chef. Knowing that they’re starting to get addicted to the way cooking great food makes you feel, that is yet another great feeling I get from food. edm Born and raised in Cleveland, Chef Cole Ellis spent the majority of his culinary years honing his skills as a chef in Charleston, S.C. and Nashville, Tenn. He and his wife decided to move home because they missed the Delta, the great people, the close-knit communities, and the appetite Deltans have for good food. Upon returning home several years ago, Ellis opened Delta Meat Market in downtown Cleveland. DMM is a specialty grocery store featuring Mississippi-made products along with a full-service butcher shop. The market serves lunch Monday-Saturday and features a Happy Hour on Friday nights.

Braised beef ribs Servings: 6 5 pounds bone-in beef short ribs Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 3 tablespoons canola oil 3 medium onions 3 medium carrots 2 celery stalks 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
 2 tablespoons tomato paste
 1 (750 ml) bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon 10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley 8 sprigs thyme
 2 sprigs rosemary 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise 3-1/2 cups beef stock 2 tablespoons oyster sauce Preheat oven to 350F. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over

medium-high. Working in two batches, brown short ribs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of drippings from pot. Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine, then add short ribs with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Add all herbs to pot along with garlic. Stir in stock and oyster sauce. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook until short ribs are tender, 2 to 2-1⁄2 hours. Transfer short ribs to a platter. Strain sauce from pot into a measuring cup. Spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard; season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in shallow bowls over mashed potatoes with sauce spooned over. eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 19

DEEP SOUTH DISH Food. Family. Memories.

Canned Veggies Make Semi-homemade Soup a Fall Favorite BY MARY FOREMAN


Mary Foreman, a native of Biloxi, is the author of the popular website, where she shares her favorite, homespun, mostly from scratch and, very often, heirloom and heritage, Southern recipes. She is also author of her first cookbook, Deep South Dish: Homestyle Southern Recipes.


’m a big believer in scratch cooking – no doubt about that – but, like anybody else, I enjoy using a few convenience products here and there. In fact, there are several old school recipes that absolutely call out for them. I can’t imagine my life without Watergate Salad, a pistachio-flavored fruit salad/dessert that uses instant pudding and non-dairy whipped topping. My favorite, and most popular, holiday macaroni and cheese recipe relies on the use of processed cheese food, aka Velveeta, to get that sought-after creamy texture you just can’t get otherwise. Mandarin Orange Cake, known affectionately as Pig Pickin’ or Pea Pickin’ cake depending on where you’re from, doesn’t taste the same without the box cake mix, non-dairy whipped topping, and canned oranges. Both Mississippi Roast and Italian Drip Beef use a seasoning packet intended for making salad dressing. Ramen Noodle Salad isn’t the same without that little seasoning packet in the dressing. And then there’s this soup. Do I think we should use pre-packaged products all the time? Maybe not. Are they an essential part of Southern cooking? Pretty much. While Fiesta Soup, also known as Taco or 7-Can Soup, may not be a classic Southern recipe, it is certainly a very popular recipe in the South. Undoubtedly because it feeds a crowd, it is a tailgating and party food favorite, and is simply delicious. It’s also another one of those recipes that’s been around forever. It’s often called 7-Can Soup because it uses seven cans of some combination of beans, tomatoes, and veggies. My cans of choice are usually two cans of diced tomatoes, one Ro-tel, a can of green chilies, chili beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and a can of corn. Please note that chili beans are not canned chili with beans. It’s a canned pinto bean in a Southwestern-style seasoned chili sauce. What you put in this soup can vary widely depending on your own taste. This combination just happens to be my favorite. With the exception of the chili beans - because they are packed in a chili sauce - I drain and rinse the beans I use. Most canned beans are fairly high in sodium. Draining and rinsing them is supposed to reduce the sodium pretty significantly, and... just so you know, it apparently also helps to reduce some of those troublesome gas-causing sugars beans are known for. Fiesta Soup is a quick but delicious stovetop soup that only needs a 30 minute simmer, though I tend to let it go on a very low simmer an hour or longer to let all the flavors sort of marry and meld together. It’s perfect for those times the family seems to be eating in shifts. It’s great for the slow cooker, too, making it a perfect soup for game night and even your annual Halloween gathering for trick or treating in the neighborhood. Garnish each serving with shredded cheese, chopped tomato, diced avocado, crushed tortilla chips, green onion, and a dollop of sour cream and serve with hot rolls or cornbread. I love a side of crisp tortilla chips for dipping in mine. edm

Fiesta Soup From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish

1/2 tablespoon cooking oil (vegetable, canola, light olive oil) 1/2 pound of raw sausage (breakfast, Italian sausage or bratwurst) 1 pound lean ground beef 1-1/2 cups chopped onion 3 cloves garlic, finely minced 1 envelope dry ranch dressing mix 1 envelope taco seasoning mix 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes, undrained 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained 1 (4 ounce) can green chilies, undrained 4 cups low sodium beef broth 1 (15.5 ounce) can chili beans (pintos in chili sauce), undrained 1 (15.5 ounce) can kidney beans, drained & rinsed 1 (15.5 ounce) can pinto beans, drained & rinsed 1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained Heat the cooking oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Remove sausage from casings if needed and add to the pot along with the ground beef and onion. Cook until meat is browned, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain off any excess fat. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

Stir in the ranch dressing and taco seasoning packets and cook and stir for another minute. Add both cans of the un-drained, diced tomatoes and green chilies; cook and stir for 5 minutes. Stir in the beef broth and the undrained chili beans. Drain and rinse the kidney and pinto beans; drain the corn and add all to the pot. Bring up to a boil. Reduce heat to a low to medium simmer and cook, covered, for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve with a garnish of shredded cheese, chopped tomato, diced avocado, crushed tortilla chips, green onion and a dollop of sour cream, or your own favorite toppings, and add a side of cornbread, or some hot buttered rolls for dipping. Cook’s Notes: Spoon soup over cooked elbow macaroni or small shell pasta and add a garden salad for a more substantial meal. With a well-stocked pantry, you can widely vary this recipe according to your own tastes, using a variety of bean and vegetable substitutes. Swap the beef for ground turkey or use cooked, shredded chicken for a different twist. For the Crockpot: Brown the meat, drain and add it with remaining ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 3 hours, reduce and hold on low until needed. May also heat through on the stove, and transfer to the slow cooker to hold on warm.

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SOUPS for the Season By Lisa LaFontaine Bynum After enduring the blistering heat of summer and early fall, we usually welcome cooler temperatures ushered in by the arrival of October with open arms. Finally, it’s safe to turn on the oven again and create a meal that’s hearty and warms the soul. Bring the soup pot down from the cabinet and try one of these delicious soup recipes. They are the perfect way to ring in fall.


Corn and Tomato Basil

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Cannellini Bean, Sausage, and Kale


Cannellini Bean, Sausage, and Kale Soup Serves 4 1 pound sweet or hot bulk Italian sausage, removed from casings 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped 1 medium celery stalk, finely chopped 2 tablespoons tomato paste 2 large cloves garlic, minced 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth 2 (15 oz.) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained 6 ounces kale, center ribs removed, leaves chopped (about 4 firmly packed cups) 1-1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper Grated Parmesan cheese, optional Cook Italian sausage over medium heat. Break the meat into pieces with a spoon. Remove sausage from the pot and set aside. Reserve pan drippings. Add additional olive oil to the pot if needed. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, approximately 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic. Stir to combine and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Pour in the broth, beans, and kale. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Return the cooked sausage back to the pan and stir until heated through. Add the cider vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish individual bowls with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Corn and Tomato Basil Soup 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and diced 5 carrots, peeled and diced 2 celery ribs, diced 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock 3 cups tomato juice 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste 1/4 cup vermouth or white wine, optional 2 teaspoons sugar 1 bunch chopped fresh basil leaves 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar Cayenne pepper, to taste 2-1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels 1/3 cup heavy cream Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and sautĂŠ for ten minutes or until vegetables become tender. Add tomatoes and sautĂŠ for five minutes. Add the chicken or vegetable stock, tomato juice, tomato paste and white wine or vermouth. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes. Stir in sugar, basil leaves, vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Puree the soup using an immersion blender or allow the soup to cool slightly and then process in small batches in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pot. Add the corn kernels and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Continue to cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 25

Corn and Crab Chowder Serves 4 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1/2 cup all purpose flour 3 cups seafood stock 2 cups chicken broth 1/2 pound (about 3-5) red skinned potatoes, cubed 2 carrots, peeled and sliced 1 celery rib, diced 4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped 2 cups frozen whole kernel corn 1/2 pound lump crabmeat 1/2 pound claw crabmeat 4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped 1 teaspoon liquid crab boil 1 tablespoon Creole or Old Bay seasoning Zest of one lemon 2 cups heavy cream

Corn and Crab Chowder 26 • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016

Chopped fresh parsley and additional bacon for garnish, optional In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium heat. Gradually add flour and whisk together until mixture begins to thicken, forming a roux. Add seafood stock, chicken stock, potatoes, carrots, and celery. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add corn and continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes. Add the crabmeat, bacon, crab boil, Creole or Old Bay seasoning, and lemon zest. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the cream and stir until cream is well-incorporated and chowder is heated through. Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley if desired.

King of Seafood

Chef Alex Eaton Takes Crown at Great American Seafood Cook-off photo by christina foto

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story by susan marquez photos courtesy of eat y’all

e may not be king of the world, not yet, anyway, but Alex Eaton has certainly earned his crown as the National Seafood King, which he won at the Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans. Started by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board in 2004, the competition has drawn the top chefs in the nation over the years to compete for the title. Eaton’s journey to the title began with an email invitation to participate in the Mississippi Seafood Marketing State Championship in Gulfport. “I signed up to participate, but I almost backed out,” recalled Eaton. “The competition was scheduled for Thursday, May 26, and my wife was due to give birth to our second child any day.” Then there was his work. As chef-owner of The Manship Woodfired Kitchen in Jackson, Eaton said when he signed up for the competition he had anticipated it being a slow time at the restaurant. “That’s a time of the year when we traditionally slow down, but we’ve ended up having our busiest year yet.” As the week of the competition went on, things worked out for Eaton to go, but he didn’t really have a clue what he was going to prepare. “I remembered a dish from when I was staging at Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham. I had been working all day and I was so hungry, and a waiter came by carrying a plate of snapper collars.” Eaton explained that it’s the meaty part of the fish just behind the gills, and it’s full of flavor. “I learned how to break down the fish and present it correctly from a guy named Martine, a prep cook at the restaurant. I was fascinated by the technique and I liked the challenge of learning how to do it.” Two weeks after their time together in the kitchen, Martine was killed in a car accident. On the day of the competition, Eaton was hoping to draw one of the low numbers so he could be one of the first to prepare his dish in order to get back to his wife in Jackson. Instead, he drew number ten, meaning he was dead last to present. He began cooking late in the afternoon, and when he was finished, he told the judges the story about Martine. His Snapper Collar dish was accented with Gulf shrimp, lump crab, roasted fennel, pickled ramps, and garlic broth. Jamie Miller, director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, named Eaton’s dish the winner, and he was crowned the Seafood King. He drove back to Jackson that night and his wife gave birth to their second child on Monday. The win was something Eaton never anticipated. “There were ten people competing from all over the state, and I went into it thinking there was no way I’d win. I decided to do the same thing I do every day at The Manship, which is flavorful, rustic-type food. The dish is a subtle, light dish that the judges really enjoyed.” On his drive home from the Coast, Eaton thought about what he’d prepare for the national competition. He was set to represent Mississippi in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans in August. “The other contestants were coming from all the states that had a seafood industry, including Alaska, Maine, etc. I wanted to do something that represented where I’m from.” Eaton chose to prepare shrimp three different ways.


“I had to know exactly what I was preparing so I could pick out the plate it would be served on. Libby was one of the sponsors, so I received a Libby catalog and I had to choose the plate I wanted.” The three shrimp dish was a way to showcase Eaton’s cooking style. “One had a Mediterranean influence, wrapped in Serrano ham, with piquillo pepper and artichoke vinaigrette, made with Sherry, which is a fortified Spanish wine. The next was an homage to Mr. B’s Bistro in New Orleans, my favorite place to go with my wife. It was a barbeque shrimp, served over polenta and garnished with lemon and finely minced bull’s blood lettuce. The third shrimp was influenced by the time Eaton has spent with family at their beach house in Perdido Key, Florida. “I chose a Royal Red shrimp, which is only found in that area, and served it in a Pernod and lemon butter broth, which is what we use on the chargrilled oysters at The Manship. It was garnished with pickled purple onions and borage flower, which has a cucumber-like flavor.” The shrimp trio was a hit, and Eaton won the national competition. This time, Eaton’s entire family was there. “Seeing my dad’s face when I won made it all worthwhile. I haven’t seen that face since I played baseball in school. He was really proud.” Eaton was also accompanied by Reggie Manuel, his sous chef at The Manship, as well as Manuel’s family. That night, instead of driving from New Orleans to Jackson, they had reservations at Patois, a restaurant he describes as being much like The Manship. “Chef Aaron Barbau at Patois won the crown a few years ago, so I was honored to be in his restaurant.” Now there’s a whole new level of competition for Eaton, when he’ll compete in the World Food Championships: The Ultimate Food Fight, held in Orange Beach, Alabama in November. The Mississippi Seafood Experience is an Eat Y’all signature event held each year on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The 2016 event was made possible through a partnership with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources/Mississippi Seafood Marketing and featured the Mississippi Seafood Cook-off as well as a shrimp boil, craft beer tasting and charity auction. “We ended up with the strongest panel of judges we’ve ever had this year,” said Andy Chapman of EatY’all. com. “You can say our work paid off big-time because for the second time in four years, a Mississippi chef took home the Great American Seafood crown.” Chapman said that Eaton cooks in an understandable, approachable way. “He’s got a lot of passion on the plate, but Alex does a remarkable job of telling a story with a plate of food. He did this in New Orleans, and obviously the judges agreed his story was the best. He and Reggie were down to the last tick of the clock, and it was stressful to watch them finish, but ultimately they delivered and that’s why he was rewarded with that crown – the King of American Seafood. I’m excited to see what Alex does with this and the opportunities that will come to a young chef whose food is really getting talked about all over the country now.” The only compensation Eaton received from winning the crowns was the recognition, not to mention the increased business at The Manship. “That’s compensation enough for me,” smiled Eaton. edm

Steven O’Neill, Alex Eaton, and Reggie Manuel

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Trio of Gulf Shrimp by Chef Alex Eaton

Jamon Serrano Wrapped Gulf Brown Shrimp with artichoke, piquillo pepper & lemon basil 8 each Gulf brown shrimp 8 each slices of Spanish Serrano ham 1/3 cup of artichoke hearts, diced 1/3 cup diced shallot 1/2 cup piquillo peppers, diced 1/3 cup heirloom tomato, diced Taste olive oil and sherry vinegar Salt and pepper Chives Lemon basil Peel and clean shrimp. Wrap shrimp with Serrano ham and set aside. Dice artichoke hearts, shallot, piquillo peppers, heirloom tomato and mix well with olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt, pepper, and chives. Next, sear shrimp in olive oil until Serrano is crisp on both sides. Place in dish and top with artichoke and piquillo pepper relish. Garnish with micro lemon basil.

New Orleans BBQ Gulf White Shrimp with polenta, grilled lemon & parsley 1 cup chicken stock 1 cup whipping cream Taste hot sauce 1 teaspoon white pepper 1 teaspoon salt 1 ounce cream cheese 1/2 cup polenta 8 each gulf white shrimp 1 teaspoon garlic, minced 1 teaspoon Creole spice 1 ounce Worcestershire sauce 2 ounces water 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper 1/2 lemon 5 ounces diced butter 8 each grilled lemon segments Micro parsley garnish For the polenta, add chicken stock, cream, hot sauce, white pepper, salt, cream cheese, and polenta to a pot; whisk until thickened over low heat. Peel and clean shrimp. Heat pan and add garlic, Creole spice, Worcestershire, water, fresh cracked pepper, and lemon. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp begin to curl. Remove shrimp and mount the cooking sauce with butter. Next place the polenta down, then the shrimp, sauce, and garnish with lemon and micro parsley.


Gulf Royal Red Shrimp with lemon, Garlic, Pernod, Chili, Pickled Purplette Onion & Borage Flower 8 each Gulf royal red shrimp 1 cup fish stock 1 cup pernod beurre blanc Taste garlic Taste chili Taste lemon Taste salt 8 each borage flowers 16 each pickled purplette onion Peel and clean shrimp. Next heat fish stock and make beurre blanc. Season beurre blanc with garlic, pernod, chili, lemon, and salt. Add stock and beurre blanc together to make perfect consistency of broth. Add shrimp and cook with pickled purplette onion. Add shrimp to dish, spoon broth over shrimp and garnish with purplette onion and borage flower.

{ mississippi made }

MsPattiCakes Is ‘Not Your Grandma’s’ Pancake Mix



reating a healthy alternative to a family favorite turned into a business birth for Patti Igoe-Betts, founder of MsPattiCakes. “It began when my grandson, Kayden Hamlin, was restricted to eating gluten free foods due to Celiac disease,” Igoe-Betts said. Kayden’s mother, Lauren Miltner, always called her mother, Patti, “PattiCakes;” hence the company name, MsPattiCakes. Igoe-Betts said she became dissatisfied with the gluten-free products she found on the market to feed Kayden. “Thus I began the purchasing and experimenting with foods I had never in my life used,” she said. “I began with gluten free flours that I could find, and added to the shelf product my concoction to bring the texture and flavor to where I would enjoy it as well. This became a work of love when it took 11 ingredients to get a pancake and waffle mix right.” Once Igoe-Betts landed the right “mix” to meet the standard she desired, Igoe-Betts said Kayden “gobbled them up.”   “That’s when I decided to make it available to others,” she said.   Yet, Igoe-Betts said she had to overcome the obstacle of locating a health department approved kitchen.

“I began to scour the city (Jackson) and surrounding areas for an incubator kitchen,” she said. “I hounded the health department for their help and they had nothing for me to work out of. I must have hounded them enough because they made a phone call to Mr. Joe Donovan, managing partner or the Donovan consulting group and faculty at Millsap College.” Donovan provided Igoe-Betts with names of others in the food industry who had experience kicking off in the industry. “Talking to other entrepreneurs was very helpful and eventually I ended up sharing a kitchen with another food vendor,” Igoe-Betts said. “That was the open door I needed to build a Web site and sell to stores.” Igoe-Betts began her business journey by selling the product at local farmers markets and Fondren’s First Thursday.   “As I spoke with people who came across my booth, I learned that pancakes and waffle mixes were far from meeting the needs of this new consumer who are looking for healthier versions of them, and not just gluten-free mixes,” Igoe-Betts said.   This is when she decided her product needed an “upgrade” to be healthier, and a food people would be happy to feed both themselves and their children, she said.   “Again, the experimentation in my own kitchen began until eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 31

I found the perfect mix that would keep you fuller longer, with lots of flavor, healthier, easy to make and no added sugar,” Igoe-Betts said.   As Igoe-Betts began mixing the perfect mixes, she also learned the ins and outs of the food industry, overcoming challenges such as kitchen space and ingredient suppliers. “As with all entrepreneurial ventures, when one door opens another door closes,” Igoe-Betts said regarding the obstacles she has overcome with the help of some area food vendors. Igoe-Betts said that she received a “culinary education” talking with patrons at her booth at various markets. “They told me what they wanted and needed in a pancake/ waffle mix,” she said. “I learned that the young generation of 30-something comes replete with intolerances and allergies to foods.” Hearing their difficulties spurred Igoe-Betts to create dairy-free, allergen-free and even sugar-free mixes to meet their demands, she said.   “All of my products turned into dairy and sugar-free with the flexibility of adding eggs, nuts, or whatever suited the consumers’ taste buds,” Igoe-Betts said. “This required some adjustments to the mixes to make sure they could bind without eggs, and I found adding ground oats and whole wheat flour added both nutrition and the binding needed.”   Selling her mixes at area food markets, Igoe-Betts said she met a manager for Whole Foods, who expressed interest in


Patti Igoe-Betts, founder of MsPattiCakes getting MsPattiCakes into their stores. “As of December 2015, I became a VIP with Whole Foods,” Igoe-Betts said. “The process spurned me on to prepare for volume sales which inspired me to begin contacting wholesale suppliers and co-packers to help me get ready.”   Igoe-Betts began working with Blendco, a packaging company in Hattiesburg, to have packaging planned. “They are ready to help me when the volumes come and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have found a company with such flexibility and a willingness to help this up and coming entrepreneur become successful,” Igoe-Betts said. In an attempt to make the mixes healthier, especially with a focus on meeting the needs of growing children, IgoeBetts said she realized that diabetics often walked by her booth saying with regret, they were not allowed to sample my pancakes.   “Knowing nothing about diabetes I thought the sugar-free option would help them only to find that carbohydrates turn to sugar,” she said. “My goal became making a low-carb sugarfree mix to help this market. I was able to create a new product just for the diabetic and whenever I’m at market I introduce it and often sell out. My goal is to make more than the one option available and I am working on this even now.” MsPattiCakes’ best sellers include Gluten & Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal, Spinach Cakes, Buttermilk Oatmeal, Praline Pecan (Dairy Free), Sweet Potato Cinnamon, and Low Carb Strawberry Spinach. In addition to her mixes, Igoe-Betts said that MsPattiCakes has an additional product line on the horizon. “The exciting news for me is that after scouring the country

for a reasonable and tasty gluten-free flour blend for me to work from in creating the mixes, I was encouraged by a flour mill to create my own blend of gluten-free flour and not rely on going through a distributor,” she said.   After many hours of experimenting with ingredients provided by the mill and testing and remixing, Igoe-Betts said she created a gluten-free flour blend that makes not only pancakes and waffles, but cookies, cakes and anything baked.    “It’s smooth, tasty, not gritty like other blends and binds well,” she said. “As I continued to bake with it, I realized that it’s lighter and sweeter than the other flours I was buying and for me, at half the cost than buying from a distributor. My custom blend will be the base to all my gluten-free products and will also be sold as a standalone product for an All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Mix.”    Igoe-Betts said getting into the food industry is not a fast nor easy process.    “Since starting last June, I have taken on a sales rep who is also a chef,” she said. “He is both investing into it as well as introducing it to large grocery chains where his own brand of products has already been accepted.”   In recent months, MsPattiCakes has been added to the shelves at select Kroger grocery shelves with the potential to go regional or even national with the help of her chef/partner,

Blendco, and the consumers, Igoe-Betts said. Currently MsPattiCakes mixes can also be found online and at the following stores: Rainbow Coop in Fondren, Madison Marketplace in Madison, Livingston Mercantile in Livingston, Farmers Market on High Street in the fall, Johnsons Tomatoes in Hickory, Beaverdam Buyers Club (online), Sassy Glass Designs in Magee, The Mississippi Gift Company in Greenwood, and Kroger in Madison, Jackson, and Brandon. “I hope it to find its way into bakeries and restaurants across the country as menus continue to add gluten-free products to the options,” she said. It is Igoe-Betts’s long-term dream for MsPattiCakes to become a household name and known for an artisan brand that is manufactured to meet the needs of what customers have told her they look for in a food product. “This is not an easy task, it is an expensive industry to break into, and needs the help and favor of both buyers, consumers, and vendors,” she said. “As my father always told me, it will happen only if ‘God willing.’ I believe with all my heart that He is!” edm MsPattiCakes 601.863.9058

FAVORITE PANCAKE ADDITIONS Liquids: Add orange juice or apple juice instead of or added to your milk.  Carbonated liquids help pancake to rise higher (flavored sparkling waters or even champagne). Solids:  Add your favorite yogurt or applesauce to the

Muffin Cakes from MsPattiCakes Mixes 2 cups pancake mix 1 cup milk of choice 2 eggs 1/2 cup maple syrup 1 teaspoon oil Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients together. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray or use muffin liners and spray with nonstick spray. Fill 2/3 of the way full. Bake 14-15 minutes. Add toppings like chocolate chips, bacon, almonds, etc. Grab n go or freeze for later.

liquid (one tablespoon per cup of liquid) for a wonderful taste and texture to the pancakes. Syrups:  For those looking for sugar free, melt some Smuckers sugar free jam and use as a syrup.

pound cake from mspatticakes mixes 1-3/4 cups pancake mix 1 cup cream cheese 1/2 cup sugar 2 eggs 4 tablespoons butter 1/2 cup milk Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat cream cheese for one minute in the microwave. Add sugar and mix with whisk. Melt butter and mix into above a little at a time. Add milk a little at a time to above. Crack eggs into the bowl while mixing and beat well. Add pancake mix and mix well. Spray bottom and sides of pan and fill with batter. Drop the pan on surface a couple of times to remove bubbles. Bake for 30 minutes.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 33

food revolution story and photography by julian brunt


Local Farmers and Producers Are Changing How Mississippians Eat With Top Quality Food Products


he echoes of what the Italians started in 1986 are still reverberating around the globe. The movement became known as Slow Food and it encouraged all kinds of then weird sounding things, like buying seasonal and locallygrown-and-made food products. It also suggested modern conventions like fast food and processed foods were not really a good idea. So what in the world does this have to do with Mississippi? The first hint we had of its presence was some pretty interesting things showing up at the farmers markets and better quality grocery stores. Next were a growing number of farmers and producers who were going organic, sustainable, staying strictly local, handmade, homemade, and using any other method or procedure that could be found to grow and make food of the highest quality. These products were made with such care, such as produce picked at the moment of perfect ripeness, sauces, jams, and jellies bottled or canned with only local ingredients, and such serious attention being paid to final results and taste that their quality could not be rivaled in the average grocery store. If you are already shaking your head and envisioning a modern hippy spouting nonsense about all things organic, please think again. Go to the grocery store and smell one of those beautiful red ripe tomatoes. Now go over to those just arrived peaches and give them a big smell as well. What do you smell? The chances are you smell nothing at all. Do the same thing at a market where the produce is organically or sustainably raised and was picked the same morning it went to market and it will be a dramatically different experience. So what’s the big deal? Fruits and vegetables taste just like they smell! The first fellow I met who falls into this fascinating category was Terry Norwood, owner and mill master at Rockyford Sorghum Mill. He makes sorghum molasses just east of Oxford, near Etta, on his family farm and goes about it with a dedication that might surprise you. Norwood is an amazing man in many ways, but he has a lot in common with others in this unofficial movement. The attributes that Norwood and the rest of this group share make a short but important list, and the most obvious is the amazing passion they have for what they do. Next is the emphasis they put on producing the highest quality product possible, at no cost spared. You can spend hours talking to them about what they do, and most will go on for as long as you want about seeds, tools, and breeds, but the subject of cost, dollars and expense, will never come up. This revolution is not about making money. Period.

But it is about the freshest fruit, vegetables, rice, shrimp, eggs, chicken, pork, beef, grits, rice grits, corn meal, polenta, jams and jellies and a host of other good things possible. There are a growing number of farms and producers making and growing products that fit into this revolution in Mississippi. Some of the standouts include Sand Ridge Farm, which is producing some of the finest pork in the South; the Original Grit Girl from Oxford who is selling first quality ground corn to more than a hundred restaurants all over the U.S.A.; Levee Run which is making a splash with sustainable raised poultry; and Delta Blues Rice, a sustainable-run farm, which is making a big entrance with white rice, brown rice, rice grits, and brown rice grits. If you frequent the Ocean Springs Fresh Market on Saturday morning then you might have met Pat and Jeff Scrimsher, owners of one of the very few USDA certified organic farms in Mississippi. What they offer varies by the season, but the dedication and commitment to what they are trying to do never varies. Pat and Jeff work backbreaking long

Corn being milled by the Original Grit Girl in Oxford eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 35

hours to produce the very finest, all organic produce, eggs, and honey possible. You will find the same passion at Stonnington Farms, where grass fed and pasture raised cattle are the focus of their attention. Once you try beef of this quality, grocery store bought will never be good enough again. Another farm that makes the grade is L&R Farms outside of Carriere, where pastured pork, eggs, produce, and honey is produced. These folks are serious and proudly say that they are “Stewarding the relationships between people, the food that sustains them, and the environment that grants us all the gift of life.” Check out their website for more information. This is not a definitive list of the good folks trying


to produce the best quality food possible, but a few more include Country Girl Creamery outside of Poplarville, G&M Goat Farm outside Wiggins, Coastal Ridge Farm in Hancock County, and Gulf Diamond Shrimp, one of the few Mississippi shrimpers that uses no chemicals to preserve their shrimp while on ice. It is heartening to see this movement grow in Mississippi. A state that was once mostly concerned with small farms, doing the best they could, then seeing the tragic demise of those family farms and the rise of the industrial farm, and now, once more, families working the land and proudly producing vegetables, fruits and berries, livestock and shrimp that can stand up to any food made anywhere in the world. edm

Fresh produce from the Ocean Springs Fresh Market ABOVE: Captain Watts of Gulf Diamond Gulf Shrimp LEFT: Dale Stevens of Sand Ridge Farm eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 37


Magnolia Business Alliance Brings Gulf Coast Businesses Together With

The Social Supper S

by julian brunt

tarting a small business can be difficult in today’s MBA offers a lot of services, but Natalie Guess has gone economic climate. Getting a leg up, and that normally right to the heart of the small business model dilemma in means financing for privately-owned businesses, is offering meet and greets where business people can come tough. Sure there are grants out there and other financial together and talk about common problems that have common opportunities, but if you have never climbed that ladder before solutions. There are plenty of resources out there from forit can be a difficult learning curve to conquer. Finding the profit companies that offer consulting services to the do-itdollars to buy yourself sites your inventory you can find or upgrade online. However, that computer sitting down with is only part of someone who the equation. has been where The biggest you find yourself hurdle many right now and has new businesses already found the face is nothing solution to that more than a problem you just lack of business can’t seem to beat experience. is nothing short If you live on of priceless. the Gulf Coast, Small business there is someone grants are still out there willing important as and eager to help well. To help out. Magnolia fund the grant Business Alliance programs, Guess is a non-profit has organized a whose purpose series of events Chef Chappy receives assistance in plating dishes for a recent is “providing which she calls “The Social Supper” event. mentorship, “The Social training, logistics, Supper, an Edible and other support Experience.” She to small and medium businesses in the southeastern U.S.” If has rightly guessed that the Gulf Coast community is full of you want more information on all the programs offered, check foodies and there are plenty of people out there willing to buy out their web page for details. tickets, and support MBA, when the event is cunningly and Natalie Guess is the executive director of the Coast chapter creatively put together. and she is as enthusiastic a leader as you will find anywhere. The latest event took place at the Ground Zero Hurricane The programs MBA offers seem tailor fit for almost any small Museum in Waveland. The guest chef was none other business when encountering typical problems, from accounting than Chef John “Chappy” Chapman of Chappy Seafood to even building a business plan. Restaurant fame in Long Beach. The restaurant was destroyed 38 • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016

Seared Mississippi Wild-caught Tuna

in Hurricane Katrina, but Chappy wowed the Gulf Coast for more than twenty years before that with great food, like his never-to-be-forgotten Trout Long Beach. Today, Chappy owns The Rum Kitchen in Waveland, where burgers, taqueria-style food, and spirits are served with the same panache Chappy is known and loved for. Few chefs have the years of experience that Chef Chappy has in a Creole/Cajun kitchen, but the Coast is excited about this new venture where Chappy has reinvented himself with Caribbean flair and Mexican spice. Thanks also goes to Gulf Coast Produce for their help. The menu on this evening was all Chappy and included four courses, each paired with a local beer from Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company. The evening started with seafood hushpuppies, then moved on to a summertime salad that paired watermelon, microgreens, citrus vinaigrette, and fried country shallots. The main event was Mississippi-caught wild tuna, pepper-seared with Rum Kitchen jerk sauce, coconut mango rice, and pico de gallo. The dessert was a crustless cheesecake with pecan praline sauce. There have been three other of these Social Suppers in recent months. Natalie Guess and MBA have to be commended for bringing this community together for such a worthy cause and with such culinary class. Keep your eye out for the next event. edm

Seafood Hushpuppies

Magnolia Business Alliance 88360 Diamondhead Dr. E, Diamondhead 228.222.5922 eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 39

Tried & True Passed-down Recipe for Chicken Pie Is a Thanksgiving Tradition by janette tibbetts


unt Minnie didn’t create this recipe. And it wasn’t first made by her mother, Emma, either. Some food historians claim the Southern iconic chicken and dumplings recipe was developed as late as the depression; however, our history of the pie begins with Emma’s mother, Martha Smiley, who served it over 150 years ago. Aunt Minnie said evidently Martha had already perfected these savory pies before the early 1860s when she served them to the U.S. troops raiding her and her Clarke County neighbors’ farms. Her husband, John Smiley, like the other men in the area, were serving in the Confederate Army when the scouts sneaked into South Mississippi to commandeer supplies and destroy farms. The story surrounding Martha Smiley cooking chicken pies for the scouts are almost as juicy as the pies. We were told she graciously served the Yankee invaders while they were over-running area fields in their efforts to round up livestock, pilferage through farm tools, and empty corn cribs. Martha was ridiculed by her neighbors for cooking for the scouts. In less than a week, the Yankees thanked Martha for her kindness before departing with the families’ wagons and buggies pulled by their mules and laden with grain along with their large assortment of farm implements. Aunt Minnie said she had always been told that two soldiers even sat in her great-grandparents’ fine carved leather saddles while riding away on their matched thoroughbred horses as they were driving the oxen and cattle off toward Mobile; however, they left the pullets and laying hens to help rebuild Martha’s flock, which, by the time of the scouts’ departure, was considerably thinner. Although the Union troops burned neighboring homes 40 • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016

and barns, Martha’s pies were said to be tasty enough to warm their hearts and preserve the hospitable Southern lady’s home, including many of her precious antiques we now treasure. Most incredulously, the Yankees did not destroy the Smiley’s old home place. Today, the almost 200-year-old heart-pine structure still stands near Shubuta, where we see it as a tribute to the ingenuity and diplomacy of our gracious Southern relatives. We looked forward to Aunt Minnie making and sharing her chicken pies that were predominantly flavored with the broth she had continued to simmer after the meat was tender. Aunt Minnie never placed the top crust on her pie until she had adjusted the flavor to perfection. To ensure her chicken pies were never dry or over-baked, she marked and cut the crust with the top of the container. She baked it separately before sliding it into place over a fine china serving bowl she would have never considered placing inside the oven. While showing me how to make the dumplings and crust, Aunt Minnie also taught me the difference between chicken and dumplings and a chicken pie. She said, “It has to have a top crust to be a pie, otherwise it is just chicken and dumplings.” I always put a crust over our chicken and dumplings and referred to the dish as Aunt Minnie’s Chicken Pie because she was the one who not only prepared the delicious pies for us and taught me how to make and bake the crust separately, but she also remembered and passed along Martha’s priceless story. Like many large and scattered families today, we celebrate Thanksgiving on several occasions throughout the fall. I usually make a chicken pie, remembering our great-great-grandmother, Martha, and the feat of her remarkable pies during one or more of these Thanksgiving feasts with family and friends. edm

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 41

Aunt Minnie’s Chicken Pie by Janette Tibbetts

THE BROTH 1 hen or broiler (hens are more favorable) 1 tablespoon sea salt Spice bouquet of 1 teaspoon dried tarragon, 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, and 1 garlic bud, peeled and crushed Except during the holidays, I seldom find fresh hens in supermarkets. If purchasing a frozen hen, keep in vacuum wrap and thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove wrap and wash bird in cool water. Discard lights and kidneys, flush out cavity with tap water and drain. Cut and eliminate large visible fat, oil sack area, tail and wing tips. Rub cavity of chicken with salt. Place hen in large stockpot (preferably with basket) and cover with tap water. Heat on medium until boiling. (Do not rush with high heat, because the skin may cook away from the hen and spread throughout the broth. ) Lower the heat and allow hen to simmer 2-1/2 hours or until meat is tender and bones are soft. (Much of the flavor is derived from the bones.) If not cooking in basket, hen may be gently shifted in cooker to check if it’s sticking to bottom of container. Don’t stir. If water evaporates, replace with hot water. Hen is tender when meat falls away from bones. Simmer another hour on low. Remove from heat and discard bouquet. Remove dark foam around broth line in container. Allow hen to cool while emerged in the broth. (This rehydrates the meat.) Place large colander in pan and drain hen. Save broth. Remove and discard skin. Gently debone hen and set aside bones. Separate breast from dark meat. Return bones to fresh cooking container and cover with water, bring to boil, lower heat, Simmer 1 hour. Drain and discard bones. Save broth again. Freeze extra broth. If making pie for two, heat 1-1/2 quarts of broth. Lower heat to medium.


DUMPLINGS 4 cups Sunflower plain flour 1 cup ice water Sift flour into mixing bowl. Make nest in center and fill with ice water. Using tips of fingers, pinch enough flour into water to form a ball. Leave thin nest in bottom of mixing bowl. Wrap dough in plastic and chill in freezer 5-10 minutes. Roll dough thin (1/4 inch) on floured surface. Cut dumplings 3/4-inch wide, 1-inch long, and pull each dumpling a little thinner as adding to broth. Drop dumplings one at a time in the exact spot where broth is bubbling. (This keeps dumplings from sticking together.) If broth quits bubbling, gently move dumplings around, increase heat, and wait until broth is boiling again before adding additional dumplings. Lower heat and, one by one, add remaining dumplings. When making a huge pie, first batch of dumplings will need to be removed from cooker after 15 minutes less they over cook and become sticky. Repeat with new cooker of broth. Make dumplings until desired amount is achieved. Remove from heat and add 1 cup chopped meat. If too dry, add additional broth. Place lid on pot and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Check moisture. If dumplings are dry, add up to 1 cup hot broth. Adjust seasoning. Move chicken and dumplings to serving container.

CRUST 1 cup plain Sunflower flour Plain flour nest remaining from dumplings 1 cup ice-water 1/2 stick butter Preheat oven to 450F. Sift 1 cup plain flour on top of plain flour remaining in mixing bowl nest. Add 1/2 cup ice water. Repeat process for making dumplings. Form small ball, wrap in plastic, and chill in freezer for 8 minutes. Select container for pie. Roll crust 1/4 inch thick. Invert container on crust. Cut around the edge. Butter baking sheet and carefully roll cut dough on to rolling pin, place in center of baking sheet, dot with butter and bake 15 minutes or until brown. Place baked crust over pie by sliding it into place. A little broth may be added to crust edges to soften it enough to fit the bowl.

Cook’s Notes This recipe is not for throwing together a quick pie and the pie is not the only main meat meal that may be created with the broth and meat from the hen. If I have to drive across town to the speciality butcher to purchase fresh hens, I usually pick up two. I find it takes little more effort and time to cook two hens. The breast is the source of my favorite chicken salad and extra broth is often necessary when baking a large container of dressing on Thanksgiving Day. Frozen broth and dark meat combines for a delicious homemade chicken soup. Also, the three or more hours while the hens are cooking and cooling mostly consists of down time other than checking and maintaining water level every 30-45 minutes. Not only is the aroma marvelous and reminiscent of Aunt Minnie’s kitchen, but I also prefer writing with the soft sound of steam escaping from the stock pot than canned background music. If I’m tired or have a scheduling conflict, I allow the hen and broth to cool before refrigerating in a large glass container overnight. Once chilled, extra fat is easily removed from top of broth. Thanksgiving, as Christmas has always been, is becoming a long fall celebration of thanks and football. However, there is so much turkey and dressing most families and friends are able to enjoy. For some of these pre-gathering, I often serve Aunt Minnie’s Chicken Pie with acorn squash and roasted asparagus. Substituting a lemon ice box pie in place of the traditional pecan pie is a refreshing dessert to accompany this rich meal.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 43

{ in the bloglight }

Traveling Mother/Daughter Duo Bring Experiences to the Blogging World story by kelsey wells | photos by melody pittman


elody Pittman was suffering from a case of empty A visit to provides the nest syndrome. With her children no longer at home reader with a vast amount of information about travel, eating and her husband working part-time in Panama, out and much more. Though Melody and Taylor only post Melody decided it was time to combine her passions for travel, recipes from time to time, they do tempt the taste buds with photography, easy to make soups, food, writing, football snacks, and and social media comfort foods. into something Restaurant that could benefit reviews are a major others. With those part of Wherever thoughts in mind, I May Roam. she created the Throughout their blog Wherever I May travels, these two Roam, which is now ladies have created gaining popularity. an honest and In addition, intriguing collection Melody’s daughter, of reviews of Taylor, has joined restaurants in her in her blogging California, Florida, endeavors. Mississippi, When they Panama, Tennessee, aren’t in Panama, Virginia, and West Melody and her Virginia. Melody husband, Eddie, explains her reside in Vero philosophy behind Beach, Florida, with featuring so many their King Charles restaurant reviews: Cavalier, Priscilla. “I like reading what Melody and Taylor Pittman However, Taylor is real people, like a graduate of the you and me, think University of Mississippi and currently lives in Brandon. Both about restaurants, not a paid journalist… We are both very women are passionate about Southern travel and cuisine. honest, which is something that you always want to be for your Melody first became interested in the culinary world while readers.” taking cooking classes in West Virginia. Faced with a hard The Pittman ladies love to travel, and their travel recipe in her first class, she managed to create a tasty Bolognese experiences and tips are well documented on the blog. Visitors sauce, and her interest only grew from this first class. She even to the site can find articles about a wide variety of hotels, owned a catering business for almost four years. She continues along with posts about destinations in Canada, Mexico, to enjoy hosting parties and, when in Panama, entertains and the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, and the United takes turns with friends cooking at their homes. States. There are numerous “tips and tricks” articles about 44 • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016

Baked Barbecue Chicken with Macaroni and Cheese, green beans, and a biscuit was a hit on a recent visit to King’s Kitchen in Charlotte, N.C.

Seafood Gumbo from Half Shell Oyster House in Flowood

The Pittmans enjoyed Oxford Grillehouse’s buildyour-own Bloody Mary and Mimosa bar, which is offered on Sundays.

Walt Disney World, and several articles focus on attractions in Mississippi, including Geyser Falls, Trustmark Park, the Mississippi State Fair, and the sights and tastes of Oxford. Also included is a section of practical travel tips to help anyone with an upcoming vacation or trip to travel smoothly and safely! Response to the blog has been positive, and Melody and Taylor plan to expand their endeavors in the future to include a newsletter for blog subscribers and more social media activity. Melody’s younger daughter, Peyton, is talented in creating videos, which could further expand the blog’s capabilities.

Wherever I May Roam brings Melody much happiness. “Blogging makes me happy. The peers that I am surrounded by are optimistic and joyous, which is infectious,” she says. She encourages her readers to travel, to experience new and different foods and activities, and above all, to “enjoy every minute of every day doing something that gives you pleasure.” edm

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 45

{ from mississippi to beyond }


Natchez Nurtured Jeffrey Gardner’s Path to Food Career By Kathy K. Martin | Photos courtesy of common quarter


any fond food memories as a boy growing up in Natchez propelled Jeffrey Gardner on the path to becoming a chef. He says his career choice might have been set after savoring the crispy pork tenderloin with Thai flavors at The Castle Restaurant at Dunleith Historic Inn or the tiny buttered biscuits from The Carriage House Restaurant at Stanton Hall. Now executive chef of Common Quarter in Marietta, Ga., Gardner also recalls marveling as a waiter in a feathered cap flipped fresh cornbread from a tiny, cast iron skillet high into the air at the Cock of the Walk Restaurant. “The first people to truly lay the foundation for my love of food were my grandparents,” says Gardner, who found he enjoyed the ceremony and adventure of eating out with them. His grandparents were excellent cooks and adventurous eaters, making a special effort of bringing Gardner along with them when they ate at various restaurants. “They frequently made a big deal of driving to Jackson, Baton Rouge or New Orleans,

often times with the sole purpose of dining in a high-end restaurant.” He relished the food they experienced, especially meals prepared by the late John Martin Terranova, who owned a Natchez restaurant in his name, as well as The Castle. “To this day, I believe he remains the only truly forward-thinking, original chef that Natchez has ever had.” Gardner was about 10 years old when he began experimenting with dishes in his parents’ kitchen. He attempted to make a pot roast from Graham Kerr’s cookbook with great success and some help from his mother. When he was 18 he cooked at his friends’ social outings and loved how the kitchen became the center of attention. “It was the first indicator that food could be very instrumental in bringing people together.” His first professional cooking job was at Bravo! in Jackson in 2003, where he says that Dan Blumenthal, Louis LaRose and John Pixler gave him his first break. “They all deserve a medal for taking me into their kitchen when I had all of the passion in eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 47

the world, but was completely green and had zero ability.” While attending Millsaps College, where he later graduated in 2006, he met well-known chef Cat Cora and she spent about 30 minutes with him one-on-one, encouraging him and giving him direction on how to get started in the restaurant business. Later, when he worked under Dean Dupuis and Chip Ulbrich at South City Kitchen in Midtown Atlanta, Gardner says they helped shape him even more into a chef and manager. He learned how to source locally, manage a staff and tap into his creative side. “While there I became the first Atlanta chef to appear on Food Network’s “Chopped,” show, which gave me such a boost of confidence to receive compliments and validation from chefs I admire.” After that experience he was asked to be the opening sous chef for Fifth Group’s (parent company of South City Kitchen) modern Mexican concept, Alma Cocina. “The experience added a whole new dimension of flavors and techniques to my repertoire and it allowed me to experience the process of opening a high-profile restaurant.” While there he landed a segment on the Cooking Channel’s “How to Live to 100,” a show that highlights healthy eating. Recently, he has also filmed healthy cooking videos with the professional wrestler and health guru Diamond Dallas Page for his DDP yoga app. In his job at Common Quarter, he especially enjoys cooking vegetablefocused dishes and getting the opportunity to work with local farmers and growers who come to the restaurant’s back door with their harvest. “My favorite dishes are those where I can pay respect to the farmers by using their produce in as many possible methods as possible within the same dish.” A gardener named Richard Eller presented him with a broccoli that was


the size of a volleyball and Gardner was able to compose a dish of roasted florets, grilled stems and fried leaves of broccoli, dishes that were all tied together with brown butter ricotta, Castelvetrano olives, dried plums and lemon. “I love being able to take ingredients that may be unfamiliar to our guests and presenting them in a fun and approachable manner.” He likes to use interesting flavors such as Yuzukosho, XO sauce, bottarga and huazontle to accent ingredients that may be more common such as fish, pasta or oysters. Common Quarter is located in a primarily residential neighborhood, which Gardner says means it offers new American cuisine in an approachable atmosphere that’s ideal for family dinners after soccer practice or work. It’s also a place for birthday parties, date nights, rehearsal dinners and business dinners. “I think my food has a largely Italian sensibility, but I often pull from my Southern upbringing, my travels and my love for combining flavors that just have a natural affinity for each other.” When he returns to Natchez, Gardner takes friends and his wife, Wendy, to the Pig Out Inn for barbeque, saying that no restaurants in Atlanta come close to matching the intensity of the smokehouse flavor of his hometown favorite. He also returns to the Donut Shop or the Malt Shop for nostalgic fare that reminds him of his growing-up days there and the sense of community that these places have. As for his future plans, Gardner dreams of opening an Italian concept restaurant someday. He would offer fresh and extruded pastas made in house, as well as seafood, meats and a strong pastry program. “Basically,” he says, “I would want a type of place at which my wife and I enjoy eating the most.” edm

Lobster Spaghetti Serves 2 1/4 pound cooked spaghetti 1 large lobster, roughly 1-1/2 to 2 pounds 2 tablespoons canola oil 1 pint heavy cream 2 tablespoons sambal 1/4 cup San Marzano tomato puree or homemade marinara sauce 6 cloves garlic, minced 1 small shallot, finely minced 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 tablespoons fresh chives or scallions, very thinly sliced Salt, to taste Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Submerge the lobster in the boiling water and cook for two minutes. Shock in a bath of ice water to stop the cooking process. Once the lobster is cool enough to handle, remove from the ice and crack the shells to harvest all of the meat from the lobster. You can use a rolling pin to extract those small,

yet delicious bits of meat from the legs. Reserve the shells. Cut the tail and claw meat into bite-sized pieces and set aside. In a medium-sized sauce pan, heat the oil over mediumhigh heat. Add the lobster shells and cook until slightly aromatic, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in shallots and garlic, and cook until the garlic just begins to turn golden. Add the sambal and toast for one minute, then add the heavy cream. Season with salt to taste. Allow the mixture to simmer until cream has thickened. Strain out all lobster shells and hold warm. In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat until it starts to foam. Add chopped lobster meat and cooked spaghetti, tossing until lobster is warmed through, but not overcooked. Add tomato and a small amount of the spicy cream sauce. You can add as much as you like, but the idea is to just have enough to coat the pasta without any excess sauce in the bottom of the bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt as desired. Toss with chives or scallions and serve.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 49

{ from the bookshelf }

Delta Hot Tamales History, Stories & Recipes

Authored by Anne Martin | Published by American Palate


by kelsey wells

t’s a land of tall tales and folklore, tradition and agriculture, a place like no other. It is the Mississippi Delta, which stretches roughly from Memphis, Tennessee to Vicksburg. Rich in history and farming, its people are dedicated to their families and neighbors. Celebrations are numerous, faith runs deep, and the food traditions are as unique as the people and the land. At the center of this awe-inspiring corner of the world lies a staple food that has connected races and social classes for over a hundred years. This five to six-inch long wonder of the region is the Delta Hot Tamale. Anne Martin, a native of Greenville who now resides in Rosedale, grew up partaking of these Delta delicacies, and now shares the mysterious origins, chefs and traditions of this special food in Delta Hot Tamales: History, Stories & Recipes. After sharing her childhood memories of dining on hot tamales, Martin takes the reader on a journey through the debatable origins of the Delta hot tamale. She offers several theories of the origin of the dish, including returning war soldiers, Italian influences, Mexican migrant laborers and an African American dish called cush. She explains the differences between the Mexican version of this unique food called a tamal and the Southern Delta hot tamale. Regardless of its origin, this dish has become a staple and a defining characteristic of the Mississippi Delta. From its roots in the fields as an easy lunch for farm workers to having its own special plate created by the popular McCarty’s Pottery, the tamale remains humble and much unchanged. The meal is wrapped in a corn husk to be removed before consumption, and the few proud Delta tamale chefs seek to preserve its recipes and influence. Next, Martin introduces readers to those who continue to make Delta hot tamales available as their popularity grows and they attract visitors to the Mississippi Delta. They are found all over the Delta region, from Greenville to Clarksdale to Martin’s current home of Rosedale and even over the state line in Arkansas. Each chef ’s story is as unique as their recipe. Some serve tamales from a push cart, some in local cafés, and others from produce-style stands. They are people from different races and social classes, all drawn together by their love for this special food. The influence and roots of the hot tamale in Greenville have earned it the name of “Hot Tamale Capital of the World.” With a designation like that, it only follows that the town celebrate hot tamales, and they do so each year at the Delta Hot Tamale Festival. Martin is a co-founder of the event, 50 • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016

which is held annually on the third weekend in October. Along with a competition to see who cooks the best hot tamales, the festival offers a hot-tamale eating contest, a Miss Hot Tamale Competition, and much more. Of course, there’s plenty of its namesake food to keep visitors full and happy! Martin also shares the history of the Hot Tamale Trail and the influence that hot tamales have had on the arts. Tamale recipes are carefully guarded by the families who created them. While pork and beef are considered the traditional meats in making hot tamales, some chefs have ventured into using poultry and seafood, and even created vegetarian versions of the meal. Martin includes recipes for the traditional tamale, and even gives variations that incorporate tamales into other meals and appetizers. With a history as spicy as its flavor, the Delta hot tamale will remain a staple of local cuisine and continue to attract visitors with its unique goodness. Delta Hot Tamales is an informative and tasty trek into the Mississippi Delta and this staple food that has inspired generations to preserve its popularity. edm

Hot Tamale Surprise 1 can crescent rolls 6–8 hot tamales, unwrapped 4 green onions, chopped 1 (4-1/2 ounce) can sliced black olives, drained 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed 1 small to medium-sized tomato, diced 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, plus a little extra Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll crescent rolls. Place wide ends of crescent roll in the center of a pizza stone or heavy cooking sheet. Mash wide ends together, closing up any gaps.

Coarsely chop the hot tamales. Add onions, olives, black beans and tomato. Mix together and then stir in cheese. Place hot tamale mixture by the spoonful into the center of the crescent rolls. Do not pile too high. Lightly mash down the mixture if necessary. You may not use all of the mixture. Take pointed ends of the crescent rolls and bring them up and over the hot tamale mixture. The seams along the side may be open. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and lightly cover with foil. Return to oven and continue to bake for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 51

{ raise your glass }

Hello, Pumpkin! T

he arrival of fall brings cool temps, crisp air, and beautiful foliage. It also signals the beginning of pumpkin everything season. From pumpkin patches and jack-o-lanterns to pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice gourmet foods, this bright orange squash is the star of autumn. After visiting a pumpkin patch with her toddler, local food blogger Lisa Bynum of The Cooking Bride concocted a recipe for a delicious libation to help unwind at the end of a perfect fall day. Her Pumpkin Pie Eggnog would be an ideal beverage to serve at an adult Halloween party or at the family Thanksgiving gathering. By adding a warming taste of fall to traditional eggnog, there’s no need to wait until Christmas to enjoy a favorite holiday drink. edm For more of Lisa’s delicious recipes, visit

Pumpkin Pie Eggnog by Lisa LaFontaine Bynum

5 egg yolks 3/4 cup sugar 1 cup heavy cream 2 cups whole milk 1 cup good quality bourbon 1/4 cup spiced rum 1 cup pumpkin purée 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 52 • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cinnamon graham cracker, crushed, optional Add egg yolks and sugar into a blender. Process until combined, about 30 seconds to one minute. Add remaining ingredients. Replace lid and process until smooth. Pour over ice. Garnish with crushed graham cracker if desired. Store leftover eggnog in the refrigerator.


CRAVE Bistro/Cupcakery Cleveland


Southern Eatery Holly Springs The Hills

The Delta -

SkidShubuta more’s Gril The Pines

- TownMadison of Livingston -



Our wonderful state is divided into five travel regions - The Hills, The Delta, The Pines, Capital/River, and Coastal. It is our goal to give equal coverage to all regions of the state in every issue. The following sections are color coded by region for your convenience. We hope you will take the time and travel to all regions to take advantage of the diverse culinary styles present throughout our state. We do suggest that you call to verify operating hours before visiting any of these wonderful establishments.

TastyBiloxi Tails -


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The Hills

Flat Iron Steak Salad 54 • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016

The Hills

Southern Eatery

130 E College Ave., Holly Springs • 662.551.8350 •

story and photography by megan wolfe


’ll never forget the day I called and asked, ‘How are we doing today?’,” Tom Stewart reflected. “And Linda said, ‘I can’t talk! I’ll call you later.’ “It turned out, we had made over 35 to 40 meals that day. We literally went from one meal a day, to four, and up. That’s how it started,” said Tom. Tom and Linda Stewart of Southern Eatery & Stewart’s Catering had dabbled in cooking for years. They had both worked in restaurants in the past, and, because of their mutual love for “banging pots,” they outfitted their Holly Springs home with a commercial kitchen. The idea was to “cook big” from scratch for family, but, in 2010, their passion took on a new life when they started Stewart’s Catering. Beginning in moderation, the Stewarts worked their business from home. Using a list of 10 fax numbers for offices in town, they faxed out a limited menu each day, offering only one entree per day with three side options. To meet city regulations, all orders were always delivered. Month by month, the orders grew, and the menu expanded. They added extra delivery days, eventually hiring one employee, and then two. Through it all, they held to their from-scratch motto, and employees began arriving at their home at 8 a.m. to prep for the day’s rush. “I realized we needed to start making our homemade dressings in mason jars. Now, a mason jar of dressing wouldn’t last through lunch,” laughed Linda. The Stewarts knew they were outgrowing their home business. Over time, they bought and stored what they needed to open a restaurant. “The overhead (at home) was great, but it had gotten to the point where Sysco’s eighteen wheelers were delivering to our house,” said Tom. “We got this building and spent a year remodeling it,” he said. “Then, we took everything out of storage, and (the kitchen equipment) out of the house. Two and a half years later, here we are!” Southern Eatery, the restaurant, opened in April of 2014. The food is Southern, but not exactly. The Stewarts like to say they’re defined as Southern mainly

Linda and Tom Stewart

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The Hills

FROM TOP LEFT: Strawberry Pretzel Parfait, dining room of Southern Eatery, Chicken Bacon Ranch Panini, Chocolate Cake, Spinach Artichoke Dip in Boule Bread, Prime Rib with Sautéed Muishrooms

by the way they treat their customers. They simply love serving people, and they encourage them to settle in, slow down, and fully enjoy their meal. “Food is an experience,” said Tom. “I like creating and presenting food. I watch people’s faces to see how they react to their plates. I want them to be happy when they leave here, even when they’re having a bad day outside.” Southern Eatery offers a variety of Southern food and plenty of alternatives. Besides a hearty, homemade meatloaf with a side of collard greens, they cook up generous helpings of Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo, Prime Rib with Au Jus, and a to-die-for Spinach & Artichoke Dip in Boule bread. Some have said the portions are too generous, but the Stewarts believe big 56 • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016

plates are part of being Southern, too. They wouldn’t have it any other way. Specials are rotated daily, with weekends offering an all-new selection of cuisines, ranging from Italian, to Cajun, to American and Southern. If a customer needs help ordering, the Stewarts and their staff will happily make personal recommendations. As to the future of Southern Eatery, the Stewarts have recently extended their hours to be all-day, every day, taking a half-day only on Sundays. They continue to cater special events in and out of town, and host small parties at the restaurant. They’re excited to see what other opportunities await and always look forward to another day with their customers at Southern Eatery. edm

The Hills

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 57

The Delta


The Delta

CRAVE Bistro/Cupcakery 103 S Davis Ave., Cleveland • 662.843.5222 • story and photography by coop cooper, A.K.A. THE SMALL TOWN CRITIC


n the side of Highway 61 just a couple of blocks east of downtown Cleveland sits an old convenience store/gas station/bus stop that now houses Crave Bistro, a lunch spot with a very peculiar specialty... Cupcakes. Charlotte Skelton, co-owner of Crave, started with A la Carte Alley, also in the Delta town of Cleveland, in the 1990s. She opened Crave in November of 2009 with fellow owner Stan Gaines who owned the building. Although the station was not the original location Skelton and Gaines had hoped for the restaurant, the gas station was central to the traffic flowing through town and thus an attractive opportunity to entice more customers. “We remodeled the building and we wanted it just to be something just a little bit modern but also inviting,” says Skelton. After fifteen years of owning and running A la Carte Alley, Skelton felt burned out of the restaurant business and sold it. Six months later she became the catering director for Delta State University for two years. “Then I decided I didn’t really know what hard work was until I catered for the university. I thought, ‘Oh that was really easy to have a lunch-only restaurant compared to all the functions that go on there,’” laughs Skelton. Skelton took a two year break after that job and met up with her old friend Gaines, who asked her if she was ready to get back into the restaurant business. That’s when Skelton realized how much she missed it. Gaines asked Skelton what she did not like about the restaurant business when she had it before. “I said I did not like the paperwork, payroll and paying the bills. He said, ‘I like that part of it. You handle all of the creative part and the menu part. I’m not going to tell you what to make, you just do it how

you want to do it. I’ll keep the place open by paying the bills’. It worked out really well,” says Skelton. According to Skelton, the idea of the restaurant happened before the cupcakes came into the picture, but that the cupcakes eventually became the signature part of the business. “I knew cupcakes had been very popular in the larger cities for years. I wanted to simplify things. I just wanted to do cupcakes. We didn’t want to have cake, pies, cobbler, all the traditional things that we had at our other restaurant. So it was really the restaurant first,” says Skelton. “But people hear about the cupcakes. They come in and say, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you had anything else, I thought all you did was cupcakes!’” At first, Skelton baked 24 to 48 cupcakes per day until the demand increased. Within two years, she trained other employees to help and then hired a dedicated baker. Crave now bakes between 120 to 150 cupcakes per morning and then the ovens are vacated by 10:00am to make way for the lunch staff. Skelton credits her son, Marc Walden, Crave’s original chef, for some of the more creative offerings on the menu. “A lot of the most popular items are his. We have two types of chicken salad here. We have the old-school, traditional

Celta Caesar Salad eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 59

The Delta

Club 61 Sandwich

Charlotte Skelton, Owner of CRAVE Bistro/Cupcakery


one, which is my recipe, and then the Crave Chicken Salad has peaches and spiced pecans in it. That was his recipe. So we said, ‘both of them are good, let’s just have a choice,’” says Skelton. Skelton is not the only person currently at Crave Bistro with creativity. Server and Hattiesburg native Kayla Holman is also credited with the interior decoration and the beautiful handwritten chalk signs. “When we first opened, I didn’t have anybody so I had to do it, but then when I found out she was so talented with it, I’ll say ‘We need to change the display’ and then we talk about what we’re going to do and she does it,” says Skelton. Skelton describes Crave as “A lunch only bistro and cupcakery specializing in gourmet sandwiches, soups and fresh, healthy salads.” The Crave menu includes appetizers such as Edamame with Ponzu Dipping Sauce, Hummus with Flatbread Crackers & Sesame Wonton Crisps, Crispy Artichokes with Housemade Buttermilk Ranch, Flatbread with Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, Roasted Red Peppers, Herbs & Fontina Cheese. The Soup of the Day features combos that can pair a cup or bowl with a small salad or half sandwich. The small salads can be matched with a half sandwich as well. Crave offers a wide array of salads like the Delta Caesar with Fried Grit Croutons, BLT Salad, Sweet Baby Spinach, The Crave Signature, Greek Isles, ‘Simply Salad’, Asian Fried Chicken, Delta Style Chicken Salad, Crave Roasted Chicken

The Delta

Asian Fried Chicken Salad

Salad with Peaches & Spiced Pecans, Fresh Fruit & Chicken Salad, Tapas Tuna Salad, Chicken and Avocado Caprese and an additional choice of three of their most popular salads all one one plate. Sandwiches include House Roasted Beef, House Roasted Turkey & Cheddar, Muffuletta, Reuben, Tapas Tuna Melt, Hot Ham & Brie, The Zen (hummus, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, cucumbers, roasted portobellos, and feta cheese on flatbread), The Delta Way (your choice of chicken/ tuna salads/pimento cheese with peaches, spiced pecans on a croissant, or sweet multi-grain bun), and the Club 61 (ham, turkey, bacon, baby Swiss, sharp cheddar, leaf lettuce, tomato, and mayo on a sweet multi-grain bun). All sandwiches are served with a choice of chips, pasta salad, bacon potato salad, or fresh fruit. Customers can choose from these side items: Fresh Fruit Salad, Bacon Potato Salad, Pasta Salad, Potato Chips, Side Salad, French Rounds (by the dozen), Sesame Wonton Crisps, and Extra Sauce or Salad Dressing. Crave also has all of the amenities of a coffee bar with espresso, lattes, mochas, macchiatos, cappuccinos, and other beverages. Two regular cupcake flavors are baked every day: Strawberry Fields and Happy Happy Birthday. Three additional flavors are rotated in every day which may include original creations such as Lemon Blast, Oreo Cloud, Chocolate Peanut Buttercup, Vanilla Loves Chocolate, Lemon Drop Pound Cake, Earthquake, Delta @ Midnight, Red Velvet, Twisting the Night Away, Banana Pudding and Wedding Cake. When the Grammy Museum opened in Cleveland, Crave offered music-themed cupcakes to mark the occasion. “That was really fun because at first everything was Beatlesinspired. We had a ‘Hey Jude’ which had a tie-dyed look. We had an ‘Abbey Road’ which was chocolate with graham crackers at the bottom, like a road. We had ‘Chocolate Yellow Submarine’. It was a yellow cake that had a chocolate g’nosh. We poked holes in it so that the chocolate went down into the cake. ‘Strawberry Fields’ we’ve always had. Then we’ve always

Chicken and Avocado Caprese Salad

had fun flavors like ‘Devil in a White Dress’ which is a devil’s food cake that has a honey-infused cream cheese on the inside and the outside. The spin off to that was ‘Lucille in a Red Dress’ which had a chocolate, red guitar on the top, just like B.B. King’s guitar, and had a red velvet and vanilla, marbled cake with cream cheese frosting... We got a lot of good publicity from that,” said Skelton. Because of new attractions like the Grammy Museum and growth within the town, Skelton sees Cleveland’s culinary horizon broadening. “I think it’s a great thing. We are changing with the times. There are more things to do here now. I think the Chamber is doing a great job here and Tourism is doing a great job with all the outdoor concerts and different things going on,” says Skelton. “And we are kind of off the beaten path for a lot of that because we are not downtown which I kind of miss. I miss not being downtown in a way, but in a way it’s good because we get all the traffic and people who would not normally pass through downtown.” edm

Oreo Cloud Cupcake eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 61

The Pines

Skidmore’s Grill 155 E Eucutta St., Shubuta • 601.687.9393 •

story by brittany brown | photography by shea goff


kidmore’s Grill in Shubuta radiates a unique energy with its hospitality, family vibe, and delicious food. Upon entering the restaurant, I was greeted with a stunning smile and welcoming handshake from Mrs. Samantha Skidmore. Quickly trailing behind her was energetic 18-monthold Samuel. Mr. Joseph Skidmore was in the back finishing up the last of the dishes while their four-year-old Emma kept him company. The entire gang of four joined me as they shared the story of their successful family business. Joseph, who hails from Jones County, comes from a family of butchers and grocers. As a young boy, he worked in his grandparents’ grocery store. Working alongside family gave the young Joseph an opportunity to become an expert butcher. When asked how he became a restaurant owner, Joseph replied, “We all went from cutting meat to cooking. I don’t know 62 • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016

how. It just happened.” Joseph works all the magic at the grill, searing fresh-cut ribeyes, old-fashioned hamburgers, and other customer favorites. Betty Willis, affectionately known as Mrs. Bet, lends a helping hand to Joseph, cooking dishes for breakfast, lunch, and sides for dinner. What makes Skidmore’s Grill unique is that each steak is cut and prepared to order. “We don’t have frozen, packaged, pre-cut steaks here. I actually cut the steaks individually, and the customers get to see it,” Joseph explained proudly, “We don’t cook behind a wall. We cook right up front on the grill.” Known for its delicious steaks, the grill can be found teeming with customers eager to sink their teeth into one of their delicious marbled ribeyes on any given Saturday evening. Skidmore’s Grill hasn’t always been this busy. Joseph and Samantha opened the restaurant in October of 2010, and

The Pines

Shrimp Po Boy Ribeye Steak

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 63

The Pines business started off slowly, as one would expect in a town with a population of 441. “For a while, it was just one loyal customer a day,” Samantha reveals. It was their persistence, great food, and family atmosphere that lifted Skidmore’s on its feet. “We worked every day for three years straight. No vacation,” Joseph shared. Their dedication to the family business didn’t stop there. Samantha gave birth to baby girl Emma on a Saturday, and Emma was at work with mama that Thursday. As word of their restaurant spread, more and more people started showing up from all over. People now come from Waynesboro, Quitman, and other surrounding areas to get a taste of greatness. Since its opening, business has more than tripled. Joseph and Samantha shared what keeps people coming from all over to small-town Shubuta: “We have a

RIGHT: Samantha and Joseph Skidmore BELOW: Skidmore’s burger BOTTOM RIGHT: Satisfied diners at Skidmore’s Grill


different atmosphere. Here, it’s a family vibe,” Joseph and Samantha agreed. “We are little. Mistakes happen, but people just respect us. They see that we’re working.” When asked why they opened a restaurant in Shubuta, Samantha didn’t hesitate to reply, “Shubuta is home. I was raised here, and we have family here. I couldn’t imagine it being any other way.” Customers ask if they’re expanding, but they are happy where they are. “This is all we want. If we get too much, we won’t get to enjoy it,” Joseph shares. “This is what I love about it. It’s small enough where I can be myself, be a mother, and be a wife all while working,” Samantha added. Stop by Skidmore’s Grill to witness this harmonious family atmosphere and get a taste of the grill’s one-of-a-kind steaks. edm


The Town of Livingston 129 Mannsdale Rd., Madison • story by susan marquez | photography by christina foto

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 65



hen developer David Landrum first saw the piece of property on the corner of Highway 463 and Highway 22 in Madison County, he knew it was something special. It had a raised square covered in a stand of old cypress trees. A worn road around the square, he later learned, was for horse wagons that brought folks to do business in the county courthouse that was situated on the square. Landrum didn’t know it at the time, but he was standing on a piece of history. It was the long-gone town of Livingston, which was once the county seat of Madison. Landrum learned that from 1829 to 1833, there were several residents and

businesses, as the town was adjacent to the railroad tracks. By the 1940s, the tracks had moved, the businesses eventually shut down, and the town was no more. Today, the magnificent Town of Livingston sits where those two highways meet, and while everything is brand new, it’s like stepping back in time. The 500-acre development features period buildings that look like something straight from the 1830s. Landrum said that the town is a nine-square grid of blocks, with the buildings all sitting along roads that run exactly where they did long ago. Thus far, the development features two full-service restaurants, a mercantile store, a candy shop, a wine store, a cooking school, and even a working farm that helps supply produce to the restaurants. “We are still growing,” Landrum said. “We will be announcing another restaurant soon, and we have the goal of opening a microbrewery.” There are frequently events at Livingston, including the popular farmers market. “We’ll be doing three fall markets, October 18, 25 and November 3, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.,” Landrum said. There will also be an outdoor concert on November 11 and a Christmas in the Country event on December 3. “We are also planning a big barbeque cook-off event sometime this fall that will be a sanctioned Memphis Barbeque Network event.” The Gathering The first restaurant to open in The Town of Livingston, The Gathering is a Southern-style restaurant with a contemporary flair. Chef Paul Adair describes the restaurant as a Southern restaurant “inspired by the seasons and local artisans.” Before the restaurant was built, Jackson Chef Jesse Houston consulted with Bowen Eason, the restaurant’s owner, to develop the menu. “I’ve stuck pretty much with that same menu,” said Adair, “although I’ve tweaked it along the way. That’s the thing with a new restaurant, it takes a couple of years to find out what works and what doesn’t.” Obviously, what they’re doing works, as the restaurant is filled for each meal. Breakfast is served Tuesday through Sunday and includes staples like bacon, eggs, biscuits, and grits, but it’s the grits and grillades that has become a popular dish. The restaurant offers plate lunches that are ordered at the counter and delivered to the tables by an attentive wait staff. “We push the envelope for dinner,” said Adair. Thursday evenings the kitchen staff has fun with different ingredients and techniques to produce a variety of small plates that are ideal for sharing. “We still serve dishes with a Southern flair,” said Adair, “but you’ll also see Spanish, Korean, and Mexican influences.” The Sunday family-style suppers have been very popular on Sunday evenings, complete with a live bluegrass band. Adair is proud of the fact that he sources much of his produce from local growers including The Farmacy, Salad Days, and Two Dog Farms. “We are talking to other local farmers as well.” An outdoor patio extends the dining room when the weather cooperates, offering a beautiful view of the sunset in the evenings.



Livingston Mercantile Store The place to go for provisions, food and fuel -- what small town is complete without a mercantile store? And when was the last time someone pumped your gas for you? Just pull up in front of Livingston Mercantile and they’ll pump your gas and wash your windows. Inside, you can get hot biscuits and coffee each morning, as well as basic provisions such as milk, eggs and bread. “We are going to add ground beef soon,” said Paul Adair. “Folks have been asking for it.” On occasion there will be fresh tomatoes and other local produce, as well as candy and soda pop, chips and other snacks. There is also a good selection of craft beers, including two seasonal draft beers that are available in growlers. At one time there was a gift and gardening area, but the demand for private banquets and parties at The Gathering caused a change in focus. “We’ve now added a banquet space on one side of the mercantile store so that we won’t have to interrupt business in The Gathering.” But don’t worry – you can still buy live crickets and worms if you’re heading out to the pond. eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 67


County Seat Chef Jeremy Emfinger’s vision for his farm-to-table restaurant in Livingston is a place where folks can enjoy a delicious meal that uses the freshest meat and produce from as close to the restaurant as possible. The restaurant décor is simple elegance, with one online reviewer saying “the ladies room was so beautiful I could have taken a million selfies in it.” High backed booths line the front windows, which allow for an intimate dining experience. The main dining room also has tables that allow a view into the open kitchen. A long communal table extends nearly the length of the comfy bar area, and in the back is a private dining room that can be closed off for more privacy. The large deck area has tables as well and on weekends there is live entertainment. Emfinger ages and cures meats in the restaurant, and they’re in a glass-front cabinet for all to see. Innovative techniques are used to prepare ordinary dishes, elevating them to extraordinary status. A popular lunch item is the MLT, a sandwich made with cappricolla, sopressata, prosciutto, heirloom tomato, greens, and smoked corn aioli. Other popular lunch favorites are the Tacos al Pastor, Tuna Melt, and a coffeerubbed smoked brisket po’boy. Vegetables are given a special flair, as evidenced by the root beer braised garden greens, peas and onions in a sherry hinted cream and root vegetable mash. There is also an innovative kids’ menu. Dinner includes delicious flatbreads and sandwiches, along with more hearty entrees including a cassoulet of duck confit, rabbit porchetta and butcher’s cut steaks. County Seat’s bar offers a large selection of craft cocktails, often with a garnish of fresh herbs or flowers. 68 • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016


Livingston Cellars Mitchell Earrey, the manager of Livingston Cellars, knows a lot about wine. As a sommelier, he’s made the commitment to learn all he can in order to share his love of wine with his customers. The shop opened in July 2015. “Livingston seemed like the perfect place to open a wine shop. There was a big hole in the market as far as wine goes, and with 3200 homes in the area, we are now the closest package store. The residential population just continues to go up month by month.” While the store carries a good selection of spirits, the true focus of the shop is on wine. “We have good bottles of wine for $9 or you can spend upwards of $200 for a bottle,” said Earrey. “We don’t carry any jug wines or mass produced wines. We want folks to have a superior wine drinking experience.” The store hosts four wine tastings a year. “We take a seasonal approach, featuring varietals or bottles that are appropriate to the season.” Earrey said that over 200 people came to the summer wine tasting. In addition to wines and spirits, Livingston Cellars also carries an excellent selection of mixers. “We carry the highest quality mixers we can find, most of which are made in small batches in the South.” eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 69

Capital/River Livingston Sweet Shoppe What’s happier than a kid in a candy store? Anyone in a candy store! A look on the faces of the customers in the Livingston Sweet Shoppe says it all. It’s a happy place. Painted a bright turquoise, the store is situated on a corner, just across from County Seat. Shelves run down the middle of the store with glass jars filled with over 200 kinds of candy, each sold by the pound. Baby boomers get a kick out of nostalgic candies like wax lips and NECCO wafers. For those who want something more savory, there is fresh popcorn made daily. Seasons can make the popcorn savory or sweet, although the most popular flavor is dill pickle. Hand-dipped ice cream is the perfect ending to a meal at The Gathering or County Seat, and a great way to cool off during the weekly summer farmers markets at Livingston. It’s also a good excuse to drive out to Livingston with the kids.

Whitten Murphy of Madison recently enjoyed a visit to Livingston Sweet Shoppe.


Capital/River Farmer’s Table Cooking School If you’re inspired by the delicious food you’ve eaten at the restaurants in Livingston or while traveling to other cities or countries, you may want to take a cooking class to learn how to recreate those meals at home. The Farmer’s Table Cooking School offers several classes each week, taught in large part by Chef Matthew Sheeter, a graduate of the prestigious Johnson & Wales culinary school in Charleston, South Carolina. The Farmer’s Table Cooking School isn’t just a place to learn how to cook. It’s also a place to have fun, and people do have fun at the beautiful facility, from girls’ night out to rehearsal dinners and even wedding receptions. “We also do corporate events, such as pharmaceutical companies coming and doing their presentation, followed by a cooking demonstration, then everyone eats,” said Sheeter. There’s also a well-stocked kitchen store with many handmade items, such as made-in-Mississippi cutting boards, locally handmade Damascus steel knives, as well as Kitchen Aid mixers and other small appliances, Lodge cast iron, and De Buyer quality cookware. “We also sell Pit Barrel Cookers, which is an excellent smoker,” Sheeter said. Many area children are getting a head start in their kitchen skills at the Farmer’s Table Cooking School. “Our kids’ classes over the summer have been really popular,” stated Sheeter. “Look for more of those to come in the future.”

County Seat 601.906.6864 • Farmer’s Table Cooking School 601.506.6821 • Livingston Cellars 601.879.3671 • Livingston Mercantile & The Gathering 601.667.4282 • Livingston Sweet Shoppe 601.874.0072 eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 71


Cajun Bloody Mary


Tasty Tails


820 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Ste. D, Biloxi • 228.435.4140 •

by brian lamar


eafood and sports are two major passions of the people of South Mississippi and for the past two years Tasty Tails has done their best to meet both of those demands. With large-screen TVs visible from every seat, owners Tai Nguyen and Addis Villareal do their best to draw in the crowds throughout various sports seasons. The superior quality seafood is their trick to keep them coming. The most popular fare for appetizers are the fried or sautéed crab claws. Another frequently requested albeit uncommon item on the starter menu are the Cajun-seasoned turkey necks, which are chocked full of bold flavors with a

slight hint of heat on the backend and are so tender the meat can be simply pulled off the neck bone with a fork. Tasty Tails strives to always have fresh, local seafood on the menu by only ordering from distributors nearby. Addis, one of the owners believes in buying local. “I am a mom and I am particular about what I will let my kids eat. I feel the same way about my customers. They are here because they trust us to give them the best ingredients possible and they can go anywhere, but they chose to come here and we take that seriously. Taking care of our customers with service and superior quality food is my main priority,” said Villareal. Boiled Shrimp with Garlic Butter Sauce

photo by j.j. carney

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 73



Snow Crab with Tasty Tail’s Sauce


photo by j.j. carney


Tasty Tails can be divided into two seasons. Shrimp is the first one and crawfish is the second one. Villareal pits her crawfish against any other seafood restaurant even out of season. If a diner is having a hankering for crawfish in the wrong part of the year, Tasty Tails may satisfy their craving. “We will offer crawfish year round. We have a special way we season and cook them that ensures that most would never know the difference, but of course we always prefer fresh, live ones,” said Villareal. The crawfish, even out of season are tender with a manageable heat. They finish buttery and garlicky, but not overpowering, but you will need an after dinner mint. The seasoning soak for their crawfish has grown such popularity that the owners are now working to begin bottling and distributing it. “Customers began putting it on rice, wings, pasta and anything else they could think of,” said Villareal. Although they are not adorned with a tail, there are several delicious options for oysters. The flagship oyster offering on the menu is the Oyster Fusion. The oyster fusion immediately sets off the taste buds with a tangy ponzu-based sauces and some savory “secret” ingredients. The oyster nachos are kinda self-explanatory, but unique enough to try out of curiosity. They are excellent and worth the gamble. An oyster is placed on a wonton style cracker drizzled with spicy mayo and pico de gallo. Next door, the owners opened the Tasty Lounge so the party can continue into the wee hours of the morning with an over-the-top Cajun Bloody Mary that is adorned with a butterflied broiled shrimp and a crawfish. edm

Oyster Fusion eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 75

{ featured event }

Get a Little Taste of Heaven at the

Vardaman Sweet Potato Festival

story by katie hutson west photos courtesy of calhoun county journal - bruce, miss. 76 • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016


roclaimed the Sweet Potato Capital of the World, the little town of Vardaman celebrates harvest time with a big festival honoring its prized potatoes. Sweet Potatoes have been a major part of the Calhoun County city for over 100 years. With more than 22,000 acres of rich soil providing the perfect bed, the Mississippi climate and hardworking farmers take care of the rest. There are several different kinds of sweet potatoes and Vardaman grows mainly the Beauregard variety. Its exterior boasts a pale, smooth outer skin that’s chock-full of nutrients, whereas the inside is soft, moist, and delicious. Because of its creamy texture, these Mississippi gems make a great ingredient in cooking – anything from sweet to savory. They’re so good they can even be enjoyed raw. With so much attention and energy focused on their crops, it was only natural that the town celebrate the harvest with a festival. The first one was 43 years ago and, my, how it has grown. “I’ve watched the festival grow from 50 vendors to over 200,” says Maxine Blue, chair of the festival for the past 15 years. The Vardaman Sweet Potato Festival attracts visitors and vendors from all over. “People come here from everywhere…10,000 to 20,000 people come to this little town of only 1,200,” Blue says of the popular event. The festival takes place on Main St. (just off Sweet Potato Ave.) and always kicks off the first Saturday in November. “The 1st day is always the biggest day,” says Blue of the weeklong event. Day one is packed with activities and events for the whole family. There’s a 5K Run/Walk, games and rides, local and national vendors selling their original works, and plenty of food trucks. There are multiple stages with live music and the occasional political speaker. Of course, the biggest events are the ones centered on the sweet potato. There’s a sweet potato tasting booth where folks can sample as many as 10 delicious sweet potato dishes prepared and donated by local sweet potato farm families. One fun event for the kids is the Sweet Potato Critter Contest (participants compete for who has the best critter carved out of a Vardaman sweet potato). Other contests include photography and writing, with the subject matter being the sweet potato, of course. Also, be sure to check out the massive display of all the equipment needed to farm sweet potatoes. When it comes to great food, Mississippi festivals know how to do it, and the same goes for Vardaman. A longtime participant in the festival, Vardaman’s volunteer fire

department cooks up something great every year. “I’m not sure what we’re going to have this year…but I know it’s going to be good,” says Fire Chief Michael Whitten. “And all the money we make goes back into the department for things like new equipment.” The sports boosters is another organization that gets involved in their town’s big event. They host a barbeque each year on the festival’s first day, with all the proceeds benefiting the community’s sports leagues. “The festival is so great for the town,” says Blue. “All the money goes back into it.” While sweet potatoes fill the weekends, pageantry dominates the weekdays before things start winding down on the following Saturday. The daily pageants see a beauty and prince from each age group crowned Sweet Potato Queen and King. The weeklong harvest celebration ends with the Sweet Potato Banquet. At the banquet, the winners of all the week’s contests are announced, including the coveted “Best Sweet Potato Dish.” There’s also an award for best washed and graded bushel of sweet potatoes. Tickets for the banquet can be purchased in advance or at the door. The town puts a lot of time and hard work into their annual festival. Each detail is planned to perfection all throughout the year, including the publishing of the Vardaman Sweet Potato Festival Committee’s Cooking with Sweet Potatoes cookbook. You’ll definitely want to grab a copy while at the festival, as it offers scrumptious recipes like Sweet Potato Sausage Balls and Sweet Potato Bon-Bon Candy. edm Vardaman Sweet Potato Festival November 5-12, 2016 662.682.7559

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 77

October/November 2016

Food Festivals & Events September 30 - October 1

Roast N Boast BBQ Festival & Competition - Columbus -

The Roast N Boast BBQ Festival and BBQ Competition is a non-profit event benefiting children with cancer. Over $13,000 in prizes are awarded in several categories. Sample and vote for World Class BBQ at the people’s choice tent, enjoy live bands Friday night, food vendors, golf tournament and auction. Visit www.roastnboast. com or call 662-549-5054 for more information.

October 1-2

Mississippi Peanut Festival - Collins -

Mitchell Farms hosts the annual Mississippi Peanut Festival on their farm in Collins. The festival will include Arts & Crafts Exhibitors, Antiques, Unique Children’s Clothes, Jewelry, Yard Art, and Lots of Food. The peanut festival kicks off the farm’s Pumpkin Patch Fun Fall Festivities. Call 601-606-0762 for details of scheduled events or visit www.

October 1

Day in the Country - Madison -

Day in the Country is a community festival held on the grounds of Chapel of the Cross each first Saturday in October. It draws more than 10,000 visitors annually with families enjoying food, music, artisans, crafts, tours of the Chapel, Barbecue Cook-Off, the famous 63-Egg Cake and children’s games and rides. This year’s Day in the Country will be held on October 1st. For more information, visit or call 601-8562593.

October 7

17th Annual Chili Fest - Tupelo -

The Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association (DTMSA) will host the 17th annual Chili Fest on Friday, October7th. The one-day festival will consist of lunch and dinner, music and a chili cook-off. Contact DTMSA at 662-8416598 or go to for event details.

To have your food festival or culinary event included in future issues, please contact us at All submissions are subject to editor's approval.


October 7-8

Downtown BBQ Showdown - Hattiesburg -

The 4th Annual Downtown BBQ Showdown will be held on Friday and Saturday, October 7 & 8 at Walthall Park in Hattiesburg. The event is sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS) and draws BBQ Teams from all over the Southeast to participate. This year, the event will benefit the the Field House for the Homeless in Hattiesburg. As part of the 250KCBS Meals Mission, Field House for the Homeless will be provided with Boston butts prepared by participating teams. Get a taste of delicious BBQ along with a kids zone and live music. For more information, visit www. or call 601-270-5424.

October 7-8

Octoberfest - Cleveland -

This year marks the 34th Octoberfest held in downtown Cleveland. This MBN sanctioned barbecue competition also includes two days of live music, over 100 arts and craft vendors, Southern cuisine, children’s area, and much more. For more information, call 662.843.2712, or visit

October 13-15

Delta Hot Tamale Festival - Greenville -

The Delta Hot Tamale Festival is celebrating its fourth year with more events, more music and more of those famous Delta Hot Tamales! The Delta Hot Tamale is perhaps the biggest culinary contribution to come from this area. Visitors from around the world will gather with local residents in Greenville to enjoy this delicious food. This three day celebration includes everything from the Frank Carlton Hot Tamale Cooking Contest, the

crowning of Miss Hot Tamale, a hot tamale Eating Contest, book signings by a number of well-known writers, a celebrity chefs’ Hot Tamale Cook-off, hot tamale storytelling, a parade, arts and crafts, food symposium, three stages featuring a variety of home-grown Delta musicians, and plenty of hot tamales to whet your appetite. Bring your lawn chairs and the entire family to Stein Mart Square in Downtown Greenville for a one-of-akind experience. For more information visit www.

November 5-12

Vardaman Sweet Potato Festival - Vardaman -

Vardaman is known for its production of sweet potatoes. The city celebrates this nutritious and delicious vegetable with its annual Sweet Potato Festival. Held in downtown November 5-12, this festival features arts/crafts, 5K run/walk, antique tractor judging, sweet potato tasting booth, sweet potato pie eating contest, barbecued chicken dinner, sweet potato queen/king contest, sweet potato recipe contest, and more. For more information, call 662-682-7559 or visit www.

November 17

Taste of Tupelo - Tupelo -

This business expo features over 100 businesses providing demonstrations, complimentary samples, and information. In addition to local restaurants, caterers, and bakeries, the Taste of Tupelo will feature exhibitors from various industries including healthcare, banking, manufacturing, retail, educational institutions, and more! This event is presented by the Community Development Foundation along with Barnes Crossing Auto Group and is open to adults ages 21 & over.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 79

Recipe Index

Advertisers Index

Aunt Minnie’s Chicken Pie, 42

Christina Foto, 4

Braised Beef Ribs, 19

Etta B Pottery, 6

Cannellini Bean, Sausage, and Kale Soup, 25

Hattiesburg Downtown BBQ Showdown, 3

Corn and Crab Chowder, 26

Mangia Bene, 13

Corn and Tomato Basil Soup, 25

Mississippi Children’s Museum, 11

Crème Fraîche, 15

Moo’s Barn and Grill, 13

Fiesta Soup, 21

Old Waverly Farm, 13

Gulf Royal Red Shrimp, 30

Peter Anderson Festival, 15

Hot Tamale Surprise, 51

Primos Cafe, 15

Jamon Serrano Wrapped Gulf Brown Shrimp, 30

Riverwalk Casino and Hotel, 9

Lobster Spaghetti, 49

Sanderson Farms, Back Cover

Muffin Cakes, 33

Simmons Catfish, 11

New Orleans BBQ Gulf White Shrimp with Polenta, 30

The Kitchen Table, 6

Pound Cake, 33

The Manship, 4

Pumpkin Cheesecake, 14

Thurman’s Landscaping, 81

Pumpkin Pie Eggnog, 52

Tupelo, 2

STORE INFORMATION from pages 16-17

Cathead Vodka 601.667.3038

Sur la Table 800.243.0852

Etta B Pottery

tag Home Decor 509.996.2009

Kirkland’s Columbus, Corinth, D’Iberville, Flowood, Greenville, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Meridian, Southaven, Tupelo Nordic Ware 877.466.7342

Follow us on Instagram to see some of the tasty, local bites we’ve discovered! 80 • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016

The Kitchen Table 3720 Hardy St. Ste. 3 Hattiesburg, MS 39402 601.261.2224

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI

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Till We Eat Again


Jay Reed, a graduate of Ole Miss, lives in Starkville where he is a pharmacist by day and a freelance food writer by day off. He is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance and writes "Eats One Ate," a weekly column in the Starkville Daily News.


School Lunch Memories



ot long ago in a kingdom known best as my neighborhood, I was listening to one of my favorite food-centric podcasts. (If I listen to these while I exercise, I choose to believe it elevates my metabolism.) In this particular episode, the podcaster was discussing school lunchroom memories.   In a previous podcast, the host requested that listeners call in their own school lunch stories. I got psyched up to call, only to discover the cutoff date had passed. Since I missed that moment of fame and glory, I decided to call those stories in to you.   Many of my friends moved in or out of town during our twelve years of public education. We were somewhat unique – we were not movers. I stayed in the same school system from day one of first grade through graduation night. And for all of those years, my mother remained a staunch believer in school lunches. In her mind, there was no reason to make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when I could get a hot, nutritious meal at school. Only on field trip days when bag lunches were required did I get the novelty of taking my own, and those were few and far between. Thus, my legacy was to eat pretty much everything our city school district had to offer between 1973 and 1985.   Unfortunately, through no direct fault of the school system, my strongest recollection is a bad one, and I’m talking full-body-shiver bad. Vividly imprinted in my taste memory is a carton of spoiled chocolate milk from the fourth grade cafeteria. When I realized the little half pint was sour, I complained to the nice lunch ladies and got a replacement, which was also ruined. By this time, I may have lost a little of my lunch. Despite the chocolate milk baggage I carry, I still dearly love the thick brown nectar. At home we were a Hershey’s syrup family (in the can, of course), with occasional forays into the world of Nestle Nesquik powder. When we went out for donuts, however, that was my chance to drink the real stuff. But to this day, because of that one experience at school, the first slug from the chocolate jug still carries a bit of trepidation. On a happier note, my favorite lunchroom food of all time has to be the peanut butter cornflake cookie. It couldn’t have had more than three ingredients: peanut butter, cornflakes, and Karo syrup. I’m sure I tried to trade for more or scavenge from the trays of crazy kids who didn’t like them, but I doubt I got very far with that. They were too wonderful. Now it’s 2016, and some genius came up with the idea of re-introducing the exact same cookie in convenience stores all across town. If thirty-one year old memories are to be trusted, they taste just the same.   Another school lunch favorite would have to be the shepherd’s pie. I know a lot more about “real” shepherd’s pie now, with lamb, vegetables, and such.  The school version was more basic – ground beef on the bottom, mashed potatoes on top, and a sprinkling of yellow cheese to cap it off.  Apparently they still make it that way, because my daughter claims to like it – when she’s in the mood, of course.  There is a soft spot in my belly for school pizza, too. I’ve eaten pizza in some crazy good places, all across the country and around the world. I’m not going to pretend that school pizza is actually better than Stromboli’s in Starkville, or the Pizza Hut in Aden, Yemen – even with their beef pepperoni.  But all things being equal, pizza day at school was a pretty good day.  The pizza was rectangular (to fit the tray, maybe?), and the cheesy product on top didn’t always melt. That didn’t bother me, though – any day with pizza was better than a day with English peas. I couldn’t believe my luck when that same pizza became available through some sort of school fund-raiser. School pizza at home? Whenever I wanted it?  Spoiled. Rotten. The First Lady has tried to upgrade the reputation of school lunches, bless her heart, but my daughter still prefers a Nutella sandwich from home to Cheesy Chicken Over Rice from the cafeteria. College life isn’t much better, if my son’s stories of “Hit or Miss Catfish Fridays” are accurate. Not me, though. Pass me a piece of lunch lady pizza and a cornflake cookie, and I’m good to go – but hold the chocolate milk.  edm

Missing an issue? eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI


Sweet Treats




page 68




December/January 2016

page 68

Mississippi FARM TABLES

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+ Bishop’s BBQ + Yazoo Pass + J. Broussard's + Miss D’s Diner + Deli Diner






+ Vicari Italian Grill + Rose’s Downtown Bakery & Tearoom + Sway’s Bistro + Stromboli’s Italian Eatery + Cast Iron Cafe


page 44

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI JUNE/JULY 2014

page 74


at the

page 36


FIGHTING FOR THE FAMILY FARM Ben Burkett Receives James Beard Foundation Award for Contributions to Agriculture

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eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI APRIL/MAY 2014

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Spring Luncheon

West Coast Meets

Gulf Coast

page 22


December/January 2015




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page 20


- The Not So Odd Couple -

February/March 2015


Give Me


page 41





Summer Treats

Fire & Feast

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Shrimping Trip


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April/May 2015

page 31

August/September 2015

October/November 2015

Roasted Brussels Sprouts



G overnor's Mansion OVER 25 DELICIOUS RECIPES


page 34








Kitchen Tools



Heritage Breed

Bringing Mississippi Roots to the Table



+ Ravine + 1933 + Henri's + Coffee Pot Cafe + The Sicilian II


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Day in the

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page 30


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Eudora Welty's White Fruitcake

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page 34

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FLAVORS of Fall + AC’s Steakhouse • Pub + Five O’clock on Deer Creek + Lou’s Full Serv + The Twisted Burger Company + The Blind Tiger

+ Ciao Chow + Crawdad’s + Restaurant 1818 + Thai by Thai + The Greenhouse on Porter eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 1

February/March 2016

Summer Salads



+ Orleans Bistro + Rust + The Palette Café + DeRego’s Bread + Corks & Cleaver Wine Bistro

April/May 2016



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Supper Club Sensible Switches FOR HEALTHY


page 25

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+ The Auction Block Steakhouse + The Blue Biscuit + 10 South Rooftop Grill & Bar + Taste & See + Keg & Barrel


Mother’s Day Brunch

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+ Oxford Canteen + Levon’s Bar and Grill + Culinary Cowboy + Longhorn’s Steakhouse + Ed’s Burger Joint

June/July 2016

August/September 2016

+ Blue Canoe + Cicero’s + Brummi’s Yummies + Chunky Shoals Fish Camp + 200 North Beach

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Cooking With

Martha Foose’s




Best Gas Station



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Easy Holiday Appetizers


page 44

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Lovefor theof Chocolate

page 26

page 34

the delicious legacy of

Heirloom Tomatoes page 32

August/September 2014

October/November 2014



Small Touches, Big Flavor

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S hrimp & Grits

Fall Fare

Linkie Marais

Collins Tuohy


Picnic Prime Time for a

Comeback Sauce

The Crawfish Boil

James Beard Dinner

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75 Years of Edam Cheese


Canada's Mississippi Queen

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Cooking with Venison



Southern Foodways Alliance

Lauren Farms

Mrs. Annie's Famous Strawberry Cake page 22

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Slugburger 101

Katelyn's Lemonade

Fit to Eat

Hunter's Harvest

page 62


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Josh Marks

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Giardina's Keeping Tradition Fresh & Elegant

page 28

June/July 2013

Olympian Chefs

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Award-Winning Barbecue



Dairy Farms

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page 18



A Southern Favorite

page 46




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Extra Table

Patrick House

Swapping Memories & Cookies page 28

Bread Pudding Throwdown

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Minny's Chocolate Pie from the movie The Help PAGE 12

• PAGE 18



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Eat fresh at your local farmers market

Tailgating tidbits

Mississippi Mud  page 26





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Back issues are available on our website at eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 83

We’d like to talk to you about chicken. Don’t be fooled by other chicken companies who use labels like “raised without antibiotics.” That’s just a marketing gimmick to get you to pay more money. Fact is, by federal law, all chickens must be clear of antibiotics before they leave the farm. At Sanderson Farms, we don’t go for gimmicks like that. We just raise fresh, delicious chicken.

No artificial ingredients and minimally processed.


Profile for Eat Drink Mississippi

October/November 2016  

Our October/November 2016 issue features soups for the season, Chef Cole Ellis, Mississippi-made Ms. Patticakes, “Delta Hot Tamales” cookboo...

October/November 2016  

Our October/November 2016 issue features soups for the season, Chef Cole Ellis, Mississippi-made Ms. Patticakes, “Delta Hot Tamales” cookboo...