Are you Ready to Rumble? Eat Jackson’s Bread Pudding Throwdown Serves up a Delicious Dose of Competition

eat. drink. Mississippi
March / April 2012
Article and photos

Sparkling lights strung across the balcony of Old Capitol Inn’s Gala Ballroom cast a warm glow over some of Jackson’s top chefs and over 350 dessert lovers from the Jackson-metro area for the city’s first ever Eat Jackson Bread Budding Throwdown on January 20.

Large silver chafing dishes lined long rows of tables in the center of the room and as guests hurriedly tied on their bread pudding official judge aprons and grabbed a plate, the lids came off to reveal the warm, sweet, gooey contents hidden underneath.

Fifteen restaurants participated in the event, showcasing sixteen different varieties of bread pudding ranging from classic to creative.  Each judge was given an official ballot.  The name of the game – visit each station, try the bread pudding, then cast your vote for Best Overall, Most Creative, Most Like Grandma’s, and Best Table Decoration.

Parlor Market went home with two awards – Best Table Decoration and Most Creative.  Their “Lighter than Air Bread Pudding,” was served on individual spoons to ensure each guest got a perfect bite of brioche, dried cherry anglaise and candied pecans.  Chef Tom Ramsey of Underground 119 was named runner up.  His “Homer” Bread Pudding was inspired by the favorite food of cartoon character Home Simpson and featured grape jelly donuts, beer, and bacon.

Primos Café was awarded Most Like Grandma’s.  Their simple, yet comforting recipe has been evoking fond memories of Grandma for years.  Runner up was another Jackson-area landmark – Two Sister’s Kitchen.

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The big winner of the night was the White Chocolate and Cranberry Bread Pudding by Chef Andy Cook at Parker House.  The recipe was first developed by Ken Dixon, former general manager, and Kenny Sutton, former pastry chef, for the restaurant.  Chef Cook tweaked the recipe after joining Parker House in 2005, but says it’s basically the same creation.

“Over the years we have been hearing people tell us our bread pudding the best in town, but this is a town filled with a lot of incredible bread puddings,” said Chef Cook.  “When Eat Jackson mentioned the bread pudding throw down I was very excited about our chances.  We had a blast participating and anytime you get so many restaurants together for an event like this it’s like a family reunion.”

In between judging, guests enjoyed a top-shelf bourbon tasting by Katz Winery in addition to gourmet coffee courtesy of Beanfruit Coffee.

A portion of every ticket purchase went to the Craig Noone “Rock it Out” Memorial Scholarship, a fund established by the Mississippi Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (MRAEF) in honor of the late owner and head chef of Parlor Market.  The scholarship is awarded to a Mississippi culinary student to help with the cost of school.  Attendees were also able to make additional donations during the event.

Added Cook, “Even though it was a competition, it was a great time win or lose.  We were participating for a great cause and for the joy of interacting with people and bringing them joy through our passion for feeding people.”