A Cut (of Beef) Above the Rest: Kathryn’s serves up steakhouse favorites for more than 20 years

Portico Jackson
December 2013

It’s rare that a restaurant stands the test of time for almost a quarter of a century.  Founded in 1989, Kathryn’s Steakhouse has seen generations of hungry metro-area patrons pass through its doors.  Every time they come back, they know they’ll get the same quality food and the same level of service.

Kathryn’s was founded in 1979 under the name Brandi’s Steakhouse.  In 1989, the restaurant moved to its current location and reopened under the name Kathryn’s, after the founder’s daughter. Current owner Kerry Brashear worked under the original owner during the early days of his carrer in the food industry. However, at the young age of 26, Brashear found himself the owner of his own restaurant when he purchased Kathryn’s in 1991.

Brashear attributes several factors to his continued success.  Most importantly, is the food.  Many of the original steakhouse recipes and cooking techniques first developed by longtime chef George Philips back in 1979 are still served today. Phillips passed away in 2000, and the restaurant’s Redfish by George is named in his honor. Kathryn’s is one of the few restaurants in the area to serve prime rib, along with filets, New York strips, and rib eyes.

It was Brashear’s decision to add seafood to the menu.  In addition to redfish, the selection includes shrimp, scallops, halibut, and yellowfin tuna, which won best entrée at Taste of Mississippi in 2012 and 1st place at Blues by Starlight for the last two years. The restaurant’s kitchen was recently remodeled, doubling its size and allowing Brashear to add even more variety to the menu.

Second, Brashear keeps the menu affordable from food to the wine list.  The restaurant has specials every night of the week, including the $15 prime rib entrée on Sunday, which has become a big hit with the after church crowd.

“I want someone to be able to afford to come in, have a good meal, a glass of wine, and have a good time,” Brashear explains. “You get a better value for your money when you eat here.”

Third, the restaurant features live entertainment seven nights a week. Brashear tries to appeal to everyone, so he has featured everything from one-piece solo acts to five-piece bands. He also renovated his bar area to incorporate several flat panel televisions and created a bar and grill menu for patrons who want to grab a bite to eat while watching the game.

Among some of Kathryn’s more popular steakhouse dishes include their green gradoo spinach casserole, Chef Phillips original bleu cheese dressing, broiled tomatoes with cheese, and potatoes au gratin.  As for popular entrees, Brashear says it’s a tie between the filet and the award-winning yellowfin tuna.

Because they have been such a mainstay in the community, Brashear has taken strides to support several local charities.  They frequently participate in events such as Taste of Mississippi, benefiting Stewpot Community Services, and Battle of the Bartenders, which supports The Mississippi Burn Foundation.

“I like to be involved in the community and support charities that keep the money here in our own backyard,” he says.

Over the last two decades, Brashear has watched as his restaurant has grown from steakhouse into the popular bar and grill it has become today. While other eateries come and go, he is confident that Kathryn’s will still be around for the next generation of foodies.

“Our food is better than most, and that is why we have stayed in business for 22 years,” he adds.  “We have something for everybody, whether its steaks, burgers, soup or salad.  People like our staff, so we have a lot of regulars.  We are kind of like the local hangout for this area. Once people come, they are likely to come back because they had a good meal and a good time.”

Candy Cane Indulgence

TowTown and Gown December 2013n & Gown
December 2013
Cover and Recipes

Recipes included chocolate and peppermint cheesecake cupcakes, peppermint meringue cookies, and gingerbread candy cane latte.

Sample recipe below. Click here for the e-dition of this magazine.

 
 

Gingerbread Candy Cane Latte
Gingerbread Candy Cane Simple Syrup:
• 1 1/2 cups water
• 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
• 1 candy cane, broken into pieces
• 2 tablespoons molasses
• 1 inch fresh gingerroot, thinly sliced ( or 1 tablespoon ground ginger)
• 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
• 8 whole cloves
• 1/2 teaspoon allspice
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Latte:
• 8 ounces strong brewed coffee
• 1 cup milk
• Gingerbread candy cane simple syrup, to taste
• Whipped cream and crushed candy canes, optional

For the simple syrup:
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes or at least until the candy is melted. Strain liquid, discarding any solids.

For the latte:
In a small saucepan, heat milk just until heated through.
Froth milk with a frother or pour milk into blender. Vent the lid and frappe just until foamy.
Pour coffee into two mugs.
Stir 1/2 cup milk into each mug.
Add simple syrup to each mug to taste.

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Play with Your Food: David Leathers

eat.drink.MISSISSIPPI861292_589765237737570_1936952674_o
December / January 2013

If asked about his childhood, chef and Mississippi native David Leathers likes to joke, “I had a dad that believed in child labor.”  Beginning at eight years old, Leathers worked in the kitchen of his parent’s barbecue restaurant in Fulton, Miss.

“Even before I became interested in becoming a chef, cooking was always been a part of who I was,” he explains.  “It was our livelihood.”

Leathers attributes the work ethic his father instilled in him at a young age as a contributing factor for his success later in life.  At eighteen, Leathers left small town Mississippi to attend culinary school at the former Pennsylvania School of Culinary Arts in Pittsburg.  He admits the move was a bit of a culture shock, but he would later go on to graduate at the top of his class. During his studies, an instructor gave him a bit of advice that would impact his career path.

“This particular instructor told me to find a specialty that makes you different from all the other chefs,” Leathers says.  He was inspired to take up food carving based on a book he owned by famous food sculptor Xiang Wang.  When Leathers discovered that Wang taught classes at The Andy Mannhart Academy in Luzern, Switzerland, he enrolled himself and was on a plane to Europe.

Where Pennsylvania was a culture shock, the young chef quickly fell in love with Switzerland.

“It is a beautiful country,” he adds.  “I didn’t want to leave.”  He did face one unique challenge, however, that most students don’t usually deal with on their first day of class.  Wang only spoke two languages – Mandarin Chinese and Swiss-German.  While it may seem impossible to take instruction from someone who doesn’t speak your language, Leathers discovered that the language barrier wasn’t really a barrier after all.

“It didn’t matter that we didn’t speak the same language,” Leathers recalls, “It was more important that I was able to observe him and see his instruction rather than hear it.”  His experience would later inspire him to release three instructional DVD’s on the art of food carving.

David’s talents have garnered several TV appearances, most notably on TLC’s Extreme Food Sculptures.  During the show, Leathers constructed a life-sized sculpture of a woman in a masquerade mask to serve as the centerpiece for a charity ball in Louisiana.  The entire piece took 72 hours to construct.

Leathers eventually went on to launch his own brand of merchandise through his company Food Stylin.  The product line includes T-shirts and his own line of kid-safe knives.  Today, he frequently uses his talents to teach kids about healthy eating.  He makes frequent visits to elementary schools throughout the year and hopes to combat childhood obesity by finding ways to make eating fruits and vegetables fun.

“We have become a generation of convenience.  It’s not just about eating healthy food; it’s about eating real food.  Not everything comes out of a package.” he says.  “I had a little girl ask me once what my favorite vegetable was.  When I told her asparagus, her response was, ‘Ew, yuck.  Gross!’ I could tell from her response that this little girl had never actually tried asparagus.  I decided I wanted to visit every school in that community and let every kids try asparagus. Once they have the opportunity to try it, they can make their own decision.”

Leathers believes that by allowing kids to be involved in the meal process, it will open them up to trying new foods.  He hopes to be able to share his message with a wider audience through a children’s television show titled Play with Your Food currently in the works with PBS.

“It’s a tactic I use with my own five-year-old son,” he says.  “By giving kids ownership, they take pride in what they are eating.  The most important ingredient is making things fun.”

En pointe: Celebrating 50 years of ballet in Mississippi

MS Mag Nov Dec 2013Mississippi Magazine
November / December 2013

You sit in a darkened auditorium.  Music fills your ears as the curtains part.  Elegant ballet dancers swirl across the stage in beautifully designed costumes.  For a moment, you wonder if somehow you have been magically transported thousands of miles away to New York City.  As the performance ends and the auditorium lights once again fill the room, you realize the performance you just witnessed took place right in your own backyard, in Jackson, Miss.

In 1964, a group of local Jacksonians established the Jackson Ballet Guild to promote an appreciation of dance within the community and cultivate the talents of rising and aspiring local dancers.  Fast forward almost 50 years later, the Jackson Ballet Guild has since transformed into the professional dance school and company now known as Ballet Mississippi.

David Keary has served as artistic director for Ballet Mississippi since 1994.  He began his training as a ballet dancer with the Jackson Ballet under the direction of the guild’s very first artistic directors, Albia Kavan Cooper and her husband Rex Cooper.  Keary would later go on to complete his training at the School of American Ballet, one of the most famous classical ballet schools in the world and the official school of the New York City Ballet.

As the golden anniversary of the founding of Ballet Mississippi approaches, Keary and his staff have begun preparing for a celebration to commemorate the momentous milestone.  Although the official anniversary is not until 2014, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to host Stars of American Ballet presented itself as the perfect kickoff to next year’s festivities.

Stars of American Ballet is a New York-based touring group of top ranking principal and soloist dancers hailing from many of the most prestigious ballet companies in the United States.  The group travels across the country to cities where such a caliber of performance is not usually seen. Because the group’s schedule is rigorous and extensive, convincing them to make an unplanned stop is almost impossible.  However, that’s exactly what happened.

“I had been in contact with [Stars of American Ballet founder and director] Daniel Ulbricht off and on for several years,” explains Keary.  “One day he calls me out of the blue and tells me they will be traveling through Jackson on their way to Longview, Texas, from Mobile.  I told him we would make it happen.”

On November 3, Stars of American Ballet will showcase a series of performances, including four pas de deux by George Balanchine, co-founder of the New York City Ballet and its balletmaster for more than 35 years.  Known as the father of American ballet, Balanchine is one of the most renowned choreographers in the history of dance.

The troupe will also perform Jerome Robbins’s masterpiece Fancy Free set to the music of Leonard Bernstein.  Robbins is well-known for his work as a producer, director, and choreographer for everything from classical ballet to contemporary musical theater.  His most recognizable works include the choreography for the 1956 motion picture The King and I and 1961’s West Side Story, for which he received an Academy Award for Best Director.  However Robbins’s original ballet, Fancy Free, is considered to be his most prolific work.  The story centers around three sailors on leave in New York City during World War II.  Both Balanchine and Robbins received Kennedy Center Honors, an annual award that recognizes individuals for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts.

“Only a few dance companies in the world have the rights to perform these works,” explains Millie Clanton, associate executive director for Ballet Mississippi.  “Normally you would have to travel to New York City to be able to see such a performance.  This will be a top notch ballet performed right here in Jackson.”

In addition to providing Mississippians with the opportunity to view a world class ballet, the works being presented have special significance to Ballet Mississippi.  Albia Cooper studied at the School of American Ballet and was one of the first dancers to perform with Ballet Caravan and Ballet Society, companies both founded by Balanchine that would later become the New York City Ballet.  She was also close friends with Jerome Robbins.  In addition, Rex Cooper performed in the original 1944 performance of Fancy Free at the old Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

“I grew up hearing stories about George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins when I studied under Albia,” recalls Keary.  “This is a very exciting opportunity to iconic works that have shaped American ballet.”

Immediately following the 4 p.m. performance at Thalia Mara Hall, a special gala reception – Sunday with the Stars – will be held at the Mississippi Museum of Art.  Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the dancers and raise a toast to Ballet Mississippi, kicking off its 50th anniversary celebration.

Adds Keary, “The spring will bring all sorts of wonderful opportunities to shine a spotlight on ballet in Mississippi, not only for our 50th anniversary but also the upcoming International Ballet Competition [in June].  We will be honoring Albia and Rex, in addition to Thalia Mara [Ballet Mississippi’s first artistic director].   All three of these individuals are a part of our legacy and the backbone of everything Ballet Mississippi has been.”

Eerie Eateries

EDM Oct Nov 2013eat.drink.MISSISSIPPI
October/ November 2013

If you haven’t already made plans for this Halloween, consider forgoing the costume party and make dinner reservations instead.  It’s common knowledge that Mississippi has its share of haunted houses, so it should come as no surprise that we have a few haunted restaurants as well.  Whether the legends surrounding these establishments are true or not, that’s for you to decide.  Just remember when ordering “spirits” from the bar, it may come with a little something extra.

Weidmann’s Restaurant
Meridian, MS

Weidmann’s Restaurant is one of Meridian’s most well-known restaurants.  It opened in 1870 when the population of this city of over 40,000 people numbered less than 4,000.  After 143 years in operation, it is the oldest continuously operating business in Meridian.

It would be impossible to speculate how many people have come and gone through the doors of Weidmann’s during its long and enduring history.  Henry Weidmann, grandson of the original owner, ran the establishment from 1927 until his death in 1956.  He was known as a kind-hearted entrepreneur, extending business hours to accommodate railroad workers and even opening up the restaurant on Christmas Day to serve servicemen during World War II.

It was Henry’s kindness that surrounds one of the restaurant’s legends.  During the Great Depression, a young couple traveling through the state looking for work stopped into Weidmann’s for a meal.  Henry picked up the tab, telling the couple it was an engagement gift.  The couple promised to return on their first wedding anniversary, never to be seen again.  No one knows exactly what happened to them, but restaurant staff claims to see the ghostly shadows of a young couple sitting at one of the tables.  Doors have also been known to fly open, loud bangs are occasionally heard when nothing in the room is overturned, and footsteps can be heard walking around upstairs when no one is there.

Aunt Jenny’s Catfish
Ocean Springs, MS

Travel down Washington Avenue in Ocean Springs, and you’ll spot an antebellum home dating back to 1852.  Surrounded by stately 500-year-old live oaks, the house has served as the home of Aunt Jenny’s catfish for more than 30 years.  However in a past life, the 160 year-old house served as a sanitarium, marketing its nearby mineral springs as having healing powers.

The establishment’s most noteworthy ghost is that of a gentleman with dark hair wearing dark slacks and a white shirt sitting at the bar in the Julep Lounge.  People who have seen the man claim he is drinking beer from a can, even thought the lounge does not serve beer in a can.  Patrons have also reportedly tried to buy a drink for the stranger, only to come back and discover he has vanished into thin air.

Other ghostly sightings include a face in the second story window and a young girl playing with a ball.  Lights flicker, faucets turn on by themselves, doors fly open, and footsteps can be heard coming from the second floor.

Cedar Grove Mansion Inn and Restaurant
Vicksburg, MS

While Cedar Grove Mansion Inn and Restaurant was built out of love, the house has seen its share of tragedy.  Completed in 1852, the Greek Revival style mansion was built by planter and businessman John Alexander Klein for his young bride Elizabeth.  The couple had a happy marriage and took pride in the upkeep of their home.

During the Civil War, the home was used as a hospital for Union soldiers.  Obviously, some soldiers likely died in the house from their injuries and perhaps their spirits remained.  Later, the Klein’s 17-year-old son accidentally shot and killed himself on the back stairway.  A daughter also died in one of the upstairs bedrooms, while two infants died in the nursery.

Staff members and guests have both reported seeing the apparition of a young girl playing and soldiers dressed in Civil War-era uniforms have been spotted wandering the grounds.  The ghosts of both John and Elizabeth reportedly enjoy checking on their guests and the smell of smoke from John’s pipe can occasionally be detected in the Gentleman’s Parlor.

King’s Tavern
Natchez, MS

Built sometime in the mid-to-late 1700’s, the King’s Tavern is the oldest building in Natchez.  The tavern was originally opened by Richard King, the tavern’s namesake.  The King’s Tavern closed back in early 2012, but was recently bought by chef and Natchez native Regina Charboneau and her husband Doug  The restaurant reopened in September 2013.

The King’s Tavern is probably Mississippi’s most infamous haunted restaurant.  Ask anyone who from Natchez and they can probably tell you about Madeline.  According to legend, Madeline was a young maid who worked in the tavern and was supposedly also having an affair with Richard King.  When King’s wife Esther discovered the nature of their relationship, the jilted wife reportedly had Madeline killed.  The legend goes on to claim that many years later in the 1930’s, the remains of a young woman and two still unidentified men were discovered buried in the wall behind the fireplace.  The only actual confirmed death in the house, however, is that of Elizabeth Postlethwaite, who died in 1860 and whose family owned the building for over 140 years.

Staff and visitors to the tavern have seen full-bodied apparitions of a female walking throughout the tavern.  Footsteps appear across freshly mopped floors.  Jars come flying off the shelves, faucets turn on by themselves, doors open and close when no one is there, and chairs rock and move by themselves.

State Fair Fare

EDM Oct Nov 2013

eat.drink.MISSISSIPPI
October / November 2013

After enduring the sweltering heat that comes with the summer months in Mississippi, and often lingering well into September, the slightest hint that autumn might be on its way usually creates a buzz of enthusiasm.  Fall in Mississippi means colored leaves, football games, and the arrival of the Mississippi State Fair.

Now in its 154th year, “The Fair” as it’s affectionately nicknamed, begins the first Wednesday in October and runs for twelve days.  Anticipation builds in the weeks leading up to opening day as convoys of trucks hauling parts and pieces for rides with thrilling names such as The Zipper, Ring of Fire, and MegaDrop are spotted driving along the interstate headed to Jackson.  Adults and kids alike start dreaming about their favorite rides, or if you are hungry, favorite fair foods.

Fair food falls into a category all its own.  Combinations that would never be considered acceptable outside the fairgrounds – such as deep-fried Oreo cookies or a hamburger patty sandwiched between two glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts – are welcomed with open arms, or mouths rather, under the flashing lights of the midway.  Mississippi’s fair boasts a mile-long midway offering just about any treat you could possible think of.  If you are a regular, you are probably all too familiar with a few of these local favorites.  If not, we suggest you stop by their booth and give them a try on your next visit.

Penn’s

Penn’s red and yellow logo with its smiling catfish in a white sailor cap have been a familiar site across much of Mississippi for more than 45 years.  Roger Penn’s fried catfish and chicken nugget establishment began as a drive-thru in Canton in 1967.  Since then, Mr. Penn has seen his little restaurant spread to 10 corporate locations in the Jackson-metro area and nine franchises all over the state.

Every year, Penn’s bring some of its popular menu items down to the midway, such as fried catfish, crawfish tails, popcorn shrimp, and fried green tomatoes.  But hands down, their biggest seller is the chicken-on-a-stick.  Chunks of white meat chicken are skewered with dill pickle slices and onions, dipped in Penn’s secret-recipe batter, and fried until golden brown.  People wait in line for hours and after one bite, you’ll know why.

Malone’s Taffy

Malone’s Taffy is loved by fair goers all across the South and parts of the Midwest.  But the company that produces those fluffy, chewy morsels wrapped in waxed paper are based out of Byram, Miss.  Founded by the Malone brothers almost 100 years ago, the original brothers sold the business decades ago.  However, the candy company that still bears their name has been passed down through four generations.  It was Mike Mooney, Sr., who brought Malone’s Taffy to the Mississippi State Fair.  Mooney moved his family from Southern Illinois to Jackson in the early 1970’s and set up shop.

Mike Mooney, Jr., took over the family business in 2004 and now oversees the daily taffy-making operations.  From June to October, Mooney is hitting the state fair circuit, traveling through the Midwest as far north as Wisconsin before heading back home to serve up fresh, homemade taffy to the folks back in Mississippi.

The Biscuit Booth

There is probably no food vendor more loved than the State Fair Biscuit Booth.  Lines go on for miles as hungry patrons stand in line for a pillow-soft homemade biscuit filled with warm syrup.  The best part?  The biscuits are completely free.

The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce oversees the Biscuit Booth every year.  They are able to give the biscuits away at no cost through donations and a team of dedicated volunteers.  Kroger donates nearly 7,000 bags of flour, while Borden supplies them with over 500 gallons of buttermilk.  The shifts of volunteers – some of whom have been working the biscuit booth for years – work day and night and on weekends to make sure their supply doesn’t run out.  It’s a sweet memory that has been passed down through the generations, and one you sure don’t want to miss.

Room at the Inn: Mississippi B&B’s offer guests unique travel experience and unrivaled hospitality

MS Mag Sept Oct 2013Mississippi Magazine
September / October 2013

When hustle and bustle of life becomes overwhelming, there is no better escape than a quaint bed and breakfast.  B&B’s offer a variety of exclusive amenities that you aren’t likely to find at other accommodations, such as personalized service, unique surroundings, and the ability experience a destination on a more intimate level.  Because of Mississippi’s unrivaled hospitality, we invite you to get to know a few B&B’s that are sure to provide and experience that will meet every expectation.

The Fairview Inn
Jackson

In order to experience the true flavor of Mississippi’s largest city and all it has to offer, The Fairview Inn in the historic Belhaven neighborhood of Jackson is the perfect setting.  Built in 1908, this Colonial Revival mansion is Jackson’s only AAA four-diamond small luxury hotel.

Peter Sharp and his wife Tamar purchased the Fairview in 2006.  According to Sharp, hospitality “runs in his blood.”  He began his career at age 14 and has worked in hotels and resorts all over the world.  When the couple decided to purchase a bed and breakfast of their own, they looked at 14 different inns across the Southeast before agreeing that the Fairview was the right fit.

“[The Fairview] looked like it had the most potential,” explained Sharp.  “I saw an opportunity for success.”

The Fairview was already a fully operational B&B by the time the Sharps came on board, boasting eighteen guest rooms.  Two months later, they opened Sophia’s Restaurant, a French-inspired fine dining restaurant with an intimate, romantic dining room in a garden-like setting.  Recently, they transformed the house’s original library into The Library Lounge, where guests can enjoy unique cocktails, micro-brewery draught and bottled beer, fine wines, and healthy appetizers.

“We have all the amenities of a hotel, but with the feeling of a bed and breakfast,” Sharp adds.  “You will not get a cookie cutter experience here.  We offer a very personalized environment.”

Guests can relax in one of the inn’s luxury rooms or suites, each decorated according to a different theme and accented with period antiques and collectables.  The expansive outdoor deck and gazebo, which overlooks The Fairview’s gardens, is the perfect spot to read a book or enjoy a glass of wine.  However, for those that require some serious pampering, nomiSpa is right on the grounds and provides relaxing massages, facials, and manicures and pedicures.

Says Sharp, “We are in the business of romance.  When you check-in, you feel like you are going back in time, but we have all the modern amenities.”

The Z Bed & Breakfast
Oxford

The Z Bed & Breakfast, known as “The Z” for short, is named after owners Annie and Brittany Zeleskey.  The sisters purchased the house after moving to Oxford from Texas to attend The University of Mississippi.  Opening a bed and breakfast was something the pair always dreamed of doing, but thought they would have to wait until later in life to fulfill their dream.  However, as graduation neared for Brittany and Annie prepared to begin her senior year, the sisters contemplated whether they should turn their dream in a reality.

“We were nearing the end of college and we had no commitments,” said Brittany Zeleskey.  “We though, let’s do this and see what happens.”

The Zelesky’s completely renovated the 54-year-old, 1900-square-foot cottage.  It features three bedrooms, each with a private bathroom; full kitchen; wood floors; and beautiful modern décor.  Upon check in, guests can expect to receive homemade goodies and sweet tea.  If the weather is nice, relax in one of two front porch swings or cozy up to a warm fire in the backyard fire pit.  The home is within walking distance of historic downtown Oxford and less than a mile from the Ole Miss campus; however, if you want to travel a little further, the inn also includes two bicycles in its list of available amenities.

The Zelesky’s also provide a full homemade breakfast as well as wine and cheese in the evenings.  While they accept reservations with as little as 24 hour notice, they do point out that football season and summer orientation are their busiest times.

“Owning a bed and breakfast has been really awesome.  We have such great guests and we love to meet people and hear their stories,” Brittany adds.  “The house is very comforting, which allows people to feel relaxed.  We try to do everything we can to accommodate our guests’ needs.”

Oak Crest Mansion Inn
Pass Christian

From the moment Chase and Erin Moseley laid eyes on the 1920’s mansion that would later become their bed and breakfast, the grand old house slowly weaved its way into their lives and their hearts.  A native of Meridian, Chase Moseley always had a fondness for the Mississippi Gulf Coast and dreamed of owning a home on or near the Gulf of Mexico.  The couple toured the house and the adjoining property, which had been on the market for several years, but decided the mansion would be more of an undertaking than they were will to invest at the time.

A few years passed, and in the fall of 2007 the Moseley’s began to hear rumors that the mansion was going to be torn down to make room for residential development.

“I decided it was time I either saved the house by buying it myself, or never drive down Menge Avenue again,” Mosely said.

The Moseley’s immediately began a series of much needed renovations and repairs.  The main house officially opened the following summer with five luxury suites, each with its own private bath, gas fireplace, and period furnishings. Each suite is named after a famous Mississippian, such as William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Nicholas Christian L’Adnier – the town’s namesake.  Later, the two-bedroom carriage house was opened followed by three suites in the Maison Portage.  The 12-acre property also features well-manicured gardens, a gazebo, pergola, two fountains, quaint chapel, and a 25 ft. x 55 ft. swimming pool — the oldest in-ground swimming pool in Mississippi.

“We like to say that Oak Crest is where history meets luxury.  Because the house had such a long standing history in the community, we tried to maintain the original architecture of the home while integrating it with modern amenties,” explains Mosely.

He adds, “You really get a sense of getting away when you come here.  It’s very quiet and very scenic.  However, we are only five minutes from the beach, 10 minutes from the casinos, and 24 minutes from New Orleans.”

Court Square Inn
Holly Springs

The Court Square Inn in Holly Springs is another example of how a historic building has gained new life.  The Italianate building dates back to 1865 and began as a small town pharmacy.  It would later earn the distinction of being Holly Spring’s first soda fountain.

When Tim and Lisa Liddy bought the building in 2004, it was being used as storage by the current owners.  The Liddy’s purchased the property without really having any concrete plans as to what they were going to do with it.

“My husband is a big history buff and an active member of the Holly Springs Historic Preservation Commission,” Lisa Liddy explains.  “He decided it was time to put his money where his mouth was, or in this case, his heart.”

It was Liddy’s brother-in-law that suggested the couple turn the building to a bed and breakfast.

“He had owned a bed and breakfast in New Orleans that closed after Hurricane Katrina,” said Liddy.  “He still had all the furnishings from his inn and told us we could have it if we wanted it.”

After three years of renovations, the Court Square Inn opened its doors in January 2007.  The inn features three luxury, apartment-style rooms.  Each has its own private bath and kitchen with views of the Marshall County Courthouse and Holly Springs town square.  The building also features a second-story balcony where Liddy says guests enjoy relaxing on a warm evening or sipping a glass of wine.  One and two bedroom units are available, making it perfect for a girl’s weekend or romantic getaway.

Holly Springs is also just a short drive from Oxford and the University of Mississippi, making it very popular during football season.

“We have a lot of return customers,” Liddy adds.  “People like the privacy, the New Orleans vibe of the inn, and the service they receive when they come here.”

Inn on Whitworth
Brookhaven

When John Lynch and his family moved to Brookhaven in 1995, he had a strong desire to become an active member of his new community.  A history enthusiast, Lynch became interested in preserving Brookhaven’s historic town square.

In early 2011, he purchased a two-story, 12,000-square-foot building in downtown Brookhaven.  Originally constructed in 1895 as the Cohn Brothers Mercantile Store, the building had seen numerous other businesses come and go throughout its 116-year history.

Renovations began almost immediately, including construction on the façade to bring the building back to what it originally looked like back in 1895.  Lynch opted to keep some of the features of the building that made it unique, such as the antique heart of pine floors, 19th century skylight in the lobby, and the huge century-old walk-in vault reminiscent of the building’s days as a mercantile store.  After eight months of construction, the Inn on Whitworth opened in November 2011, with seven luxury first-floor guest rooms.

“It’s a very unique space,” says Lynch.  “It’s not your typical inn located in a Southern home.  It’s a really cool space in a really cool historic building.”

Despite its historic roots, the interior of the Inn on Whitworth more closely resembles a modern boutique hotel.  Each room features thirteen foot ceilings and unique artwork by Mississippi artists Dr. Kim Sessums and Ed Williford, along with spacious modern bathrooms with glass walk-in showers, and either queen or double beds.  Sleek, modern furniture and light neutral colors give each space a calm and polished look.  Nestled in a secluded area, the inn’s “jacuzzi” room is the perfect romantic retreat.

“When guests stay here, they really get a flavor for downtown Brookhaven and that really contributes to the aesthetics of the inn,” said Innkeeper Sallie Williford.  “Guests find the decor very serene.  They can also expect very personable service.  We do everything we can to accommodate everyone’s needs and requests.”

The Old Place Bed and Breakfast
Amory

If escaping the fast lane is what you are looking for, the Old Place Bed and Breakfast on the outskirts of Amory may be just what you are looking.  The bungalow-style farmhouse was built in 1925 by the grandparents of owner Jimmy Glenn.  Glenn’s grandparents raised their family in the three bedroom house and as the children grew up and moved out, their childhood home eventually became known affectionately as “The old place.”

In 1999, Jimmy and his wife Theresa inherited “the old place.”  By then the aging house had been abandoned for over 30 years.  The couple vowed to restore it; however, they faced many challenges.  The house had no central heat and air, no indoor plumbing, the original roughhewn log walls had no insulation, and the house still had the original electrical work that was installed sometime in the 1930’s.

At some point during the renovation, a family friend suggested turning the house into a bed and breakfast.  When it came time to name their new inn, there was no question what it should be called.  In 2000, after a year of construction, The Old Place opened for business.

The home, which sits on 43 acres, still features the original wood burning fireplaces in all the bedrooms and living room, original pine floors, original glass window panes, and original handmade bricks.  Guests can enjoy a good book in the comfortable wicker furniture on the porch or partake in some “pet therapy.”  There are plenty of animals living on the property, including sheep, donkeys, geese, horses, and two Great Pyrenees.

“We are located within the city limits of Amory, but you would never know it.  We have a lot of space,” says Theresa Glenn, who manages the inn full-time.  “I love meeting our guests and they really seem to appreciate what we have here.”

Barnyard Bash

MS Mag Sept Oct 2013Mississippi Magazine
September / October 2013

Imagine waking up on the morning of your third birthday and discovering that your home has been magically transformed into Old McDonald’s farm.  For many preschoolers, this sounds like an absolute dream come true.  But for birthday boy Peyton Smith, this barnyard birthday bash was a reality.

Shanna Lumpkin of Shanna Lumpkin Events has had the honor of planning all of little Peyton’s birthday parties.  “Peyton’s mother originally brought me in to help plan a 40th birthday party for her husband, Allen,” Lumpkin explains.  “She mentioned that her son’s first birthday was coming up and asked if I could help plan something for that as well.  I have planned every party since then.”

Every parent of a preschooler knows that kids can become obsessed with certain items – like planes, trains, automobiles, or in Peyton’s case – pigs. 

“Peyton is a very sweet, fun-loving and energetic little boy who loves animals,” said Geri Beth Smith, Peyton’s mother.  “Shanna asked me what kind of things Peyton was interested in and the theme evolved from there.”

“We thought a barnyard theme would be so much fun,” adds Lumpkin. She enlisted the help of caterer Wendy Putt of Fresh Cut Catering & Floral and friend Gail Mateer to transform the Smith’s Bridgewater home in Ridgeland into a farmstead both adults and children would enjoy.

Party goers were instantly transported into another world as they arrived that cool but sunny Saturday morning.  Thanks to Taylor’s Pony Parties, LLC, the Smith’s driveway was transformed into a petting zoo complete with pony rides for the kids.  Inside the petting zoo, children could interact one-on-one with real live barnyard animals including chickens, rabbits, goats, and of course, pigs.

Because no farm is complete without a big red barn, Lumpkin and Mateer constructed a huge wooden barn façade to serve as the focal point for the party.  The barn also doubled as the perfect backdrop for family photos.

“The barn provided a really neat tactile experience and gave us all kinds of activity opportunities for the kids,” said Lumpkin.

Putt’s menu – served buffet-style – incorporated creative spins on classic party food ideas that tied in perfectly with the theme of the party.  For the little field hands, the menu included kid-friendly foods such as pigs in a blanket, pretzel haystacks, cow print Rice Krispie treats, and mini apple pies.  Caramel corn was formed and wrapped in green tissue paper to create “popcorn on the cob,” while deviled eggs were shaped to look like baby chicks hatching from a shell.

The adult’s table included more grown-up fare.  The tablescape was accented with red and white gingham and burlap accents and featured fresh minted fruit salad served in halved out oranges, pasta salad with feta cheese, black olives, and pimentos, corn and couchon on toasted bread rounds, and bacon soufflé served with toasted bread rounds.  Cute but rustic looking mini chalkboards served as descriptive place cards for each dish.

Everyone knows that second only to the birthday boy himself, the birthday cake is the star of the show.  Lumpkin enlisted the help of Maria de La Barre of The Cake Diva to design the three-tiered strawberry cake complete with “a-moo-sing” barnyard details. The cake was offset by a blue ribbon candy bar that included whimsical cupcakes – also by The Cake Diva – an assortment of candies, and sweet little pony-shaped cookies.  Mini paper bags and scoops were close-by so guests could create their very own goodie-bag of assorted confections.

Obviously, after the festivities came to an end, The Smiths didn’t want to send their special guests home empty-handed.  Mateer hand-painted metal buckets to hang on the back of each guest’s chair.  The buckets held small personalized matchboxes that opened to reveal a set of assorted crayons molded into the shape of farm animals, tractors, and a barn.  Younger guests also received adorable broomstick ponies.

“The party definitely exceeded my expectations.  Within a few hours afterwards, I was receiving emails and text messages from guests letting me know what a wonderful time they had and asking to be put on the invitation list for next year,” said Smith.  “Everyone did a fabulous job pulling this off.  The food was over the top.  Everyone loved it.”

Shanna Lumpkin’s Top 10 Birthday Party Planning Tips:

  1. Plan for more than are invited.  Always ask for RSVP, but plan for more than will actually reply. For everything from food to favors, plan for about 10% more than actually invited.
  2. Ask parents about food allergies.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry! There are so many food allergies and no one can plan for them all without knowing. Most parents will let you know, yet it’s still a good idea to check!
  3. Serve the sweets (including the cake) during the last half hour of the party.
  4. When deciding how many children to invite, a good rule of thumb is to invite one more kid than the age of your child. If it their 4th birthday, invite 5 kids, 10th birthday invite 11, etc.  Once the child is school age and you are inviting schoolmates, it can be difficult to follow this rule. But if you can, it is a nice way to manage the guest list.
  5. Plan multiple celebrations.  If you have a large family, it’s a nice idea to have multiple, yet simple, celebrations. Rather than having 50 guests at one time, it might work better to have a smaller birthday party and then lunch/dinner with the grandparents or aunts and cousins.
  6. Ask for help.  If planning a party is something you excel at… perfect! Plan away! But if planning is not where you find your joy, by all means… hire a planner!
  7. Set an end time. Especially as kids get older, parents will begin to drop their kids off and it is important for them to know what time to return.
  8. Let guests know what you will serve.  If you plan to serve cake and snacks (a perfectly acceptable menu!) than let guests know. It’s a nice idea to incorporate that onto the invitation. There is no need to plan a full on meal. The time will also help to indicate your food choice. If you plan a 2-4pm party – in between lunch and dinner – a meal would not be expected.
  9. Plan a fun, but low maintenance, activity.  It makes the party much for enjoyable for the kids (and the parents too!) when the kids can entertain themselves. A fun craft activity that an older sibling or family member can oversee is great for older kids.  Something fun and low maintenance is ideal for younger kids, such as a baby pool full of colorful balls or balloons can do the trick!
  10. Consider alternating the big parties.  As a party planner you would think this goes against everything I believe in, but consider spacing out the “blowouts” and making the other years more simple and intimate. Not only will this help with your pocket book- but it will also help to make the larger parties more special and memorable for the birthday boy or girl.

In the Bloglight: Seeded at the Table

EDM Cover Aug Sep 2013eat.drink.MISSISSIPPI
August / September 2013
Cover photo and article

Like a lot of new brides just starting out in life, Nikki Gladd – author of the blog Seeded at the Table – began learning to cook out of necessity. Her husband Ben was in graduate school working towards a Ph.D. in New Testament and money was tight. Nikki began cooking budget-friendly meals as a way to avoid having to eat out and save money.

“I was never taught how to cook while growing up, so I had a lot to learn!” Nikki says. “The more I cooked, the more I learned. The more I learned, the more I enjoyed it!”

Soon after, other newlywed friends and family members began asking Nikki for her recipes. A native of Michigan, Nikki and her husband have also lived in the suburbs of Chicago and in Southern California. Because friends and family were spread out all over the country, Nikki launched her first blog – Pennies on a Platter – in 2007 as a way to share recipes that she tried and recommended.

In 2012, Ben, Nikki, and their young son Judah left Southern California and moved to Mississippi where Ben began a teaching job at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson. It was during this time that Nikki began formulating an idea to rebrand her blog so that she could share more about her faith, family adventures, travel experiences, and product reviews. Seeded at the Table launched in early 2013.

“The phrase ‘Seated at the Table’ is one that means much more to me when it comes to my relationship with Jesus Christ, and changing the ‘Seated’ to ‘Seeded’ added a nurturing/growing notion to it,” Nikki explains. “My desire is to encourage families and friends to find joy and community by being nurtured at the table – sometimes an actual physical table, sometimes a symbolic table.”

Nikki admits that living all over the country has developed an appreciation for regional foods and cooking styles. She enjoys Midwestern favorites like hot dogs, brats, and Chicago-style pizza. While in California, she grew to love multi-cultural foods such as fish tacos and fresh salads. Since moving to Mississippi, she has jumped right into Southern cooking, honing her techniques for making cheese grits, biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, and beignets.

Since her rebrand, Nikki’s readers have responded positively to the change. She never imagined that when she launched her first blog over six years ago that her life would change in so many ways. Nikki has been able to turn her hobby as a food blogger into a career, allowing her earn an income while being a stay-at-home mom Judah and newborn son Simon, who arrived in May. The highlight of her career came in February when she was granted to opportunity to interview First Lady Michelle Obama one-on-one during Obama’s visit to Clinton as part of the Let’s Move! campaign to prevent childhood obesity.

When asked to describe her experience interviewing the First Lady, Nikki reveals, “In one word: ‘unreal.’ She was the sweetest lady and made me feel like number one. She’s a super intelligent woman, but also very down to earth.”

Because Nikki and her family recently bought a house in Madison, she plans to add DIY home improvement and decorating projects to her lineup in addition to travel and family posts and of course, more recipes. One of her favorite recipes on the blog is White Cheese Dip.

“This recipe is a match of the queso dip we all crave at our favorite Mexican restaurants,” she says. “Using just a few ingredients and the microwave, it can be served in anyone’s home in just minutes!”

White Cheese Dip

Ingredients:
1 1/4 (1.25) lb block White American Cheese (Land O’Lakes brand preferred), cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup diced green chiles
2 pickled jalapenos, chopped
1 ounce pickled jalapeno juice
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup cold water
Pinch of cumin (optional)

Directions:
Toss all ingredients into a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, stopping to stir after every minute. The mixture might seem watery during the first few stirs, but should come together as a nice runny dip after all the cheese is melted.
Serve immediately as a dip with tortilla chips or as a sauce over your favorite Mexican dish.

*Recipe Note: White American cheese is found at most deli counters in your local grocery store.

*Reheat Instructions: Store any leftover cheese dip in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until creamy and hot.

A Legacy through Art: Lauren Rogers Museum of Art

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Mississippi Magazine
July / August 2013

The city of Laurel, like many towns nestled among the towering trees of Mississippi’s Pine Belt, can trace its roots back to the timber industry.  Founded in 1882, Laurel was officially put on the map after the Eastman, Gardiner & Company, of Lyons, Iowa, purchased approximately 26,000 acres of timber land and established a large sawmill near what would become downtown Laurel.  The tiny town flourished and the Eastman and Gardiner families invested heavily in the town’s infrastructure, building roads, houses for the mill workers, and establishing state-of-the art schools.

In 1921, twenty-three-year-old Lauren Eastman Rogers, recent college graduate and future heir to the Eastman-Gardiner empire, returned home to Laurel assume the reigns from his grandfather and marry the love of his life.  However, before the young man would have the opportunity to realize his potential, he passed away as a result of complications from appendicitis.  The entire town went into mourning, but the founding families were determined to leave a legacy in honor of the bright and talented young man.  Two years later, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art opened its doors.

Today the museum, housed in a beautifully constructed Georgian Greek Revival building in the center of Laurel’s historic district, has the distinction of being Mississippi’s oldest art museum.  It houses five permanent exhibits showcasing a wide variety of artistic mediums, including one of the finest collections of 19th and 20th century European and American art in the South.  Many of these works were donated by the Eastman and Rogers families during the early years of the museum.  The collection has grown considerably and now includes important additions in the areas of figurative sculpture, African American artists, and Mississippi artists.

The permanent exhibit also includes an extensive collection of Native American baskets.  Catherine Marshall Gardiner, great aunt to Lauren Rogers, became a prolific collector of baskets shortly after moving to Laurel.  Marshall had amassed nearly 500 pieces when she donated her collection to the museum.  Other art exhibits include a collection of 150 Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints in addition to an extensive display of British Georgian Silver produced by some of best-known silversmiths between 1714 and 1830.

“People are usually so surprised to find a museum of this caliber with a nationally-recognized art collection in a small town,” said George Bassi, director of the museum.  “Our collections are so varied.  You aren’t going to come here and see just one type of art form.”

Throughout the year, the museum board makes an effort to bring in traveling exhibits that will appeal not only to varying interests and age groups, but provide visitors the opportunity to be exposed to something they possibly have never seen before.  In the past, the museum has brought in exhibits on pop culture, space exploration, Rembrandt, and photographs by Linda McCartney.  Current exhibits include a showing of ceramics by world famous artist Pablo Picasso and a collection of fine art prints on rock & roll.

“Between our excellent permanent collection and our traveling exhibits, we really do have something to suit everyone’s taste,” said Holly Green, the museum’s director of marketing.

In May, the museum commemorated its 90th anniversary with the completion of a 5,400-square-foot expansion.  Mike Foil of Foil Wyatt Architects & Planners, PLLC, in Jackson designed the space.  A native of Laurel, Foil made numerous visits to the museum growing up.  His connection to the area – in addition to his experience in designing the first museum expansion back in 1983 – made him the perfect candidate to head up this important project.

Rather than creating something to match the current museum façade, Foil instead opted to go with a completely modern look and feel.

“I didn’t want to design something that would compete with the original structure,” Foil revealed.  “Instead, I designed something that would complement the existing texture of the original brick and limestone.”

The outside wall gently curves towards the original structure where it is met by an expanse of glass that connects the new wing to the old one.  The entire structure is wrapped in gleaming copper panels that will become an art form in and of themselves as their patina changes due to exposure from outside elements.  Inside, the addition houses three new galleries, a new climate controlled storage vault for housing the museum’s nationally recognized exhibits, and an expanded loading dock.

Visitors enter into the new galleries via a central staircase laid in black marble.  Known as the Stairwell Gallery, the space is used to display the museum’s collection of contemporary art, including its most recent purchase – an Aventurine Green Chandelier with Copper Leaf designed by Seattle artist Dale Chihuly.  Chihuly, who is considered by many to be the leading authority in the art of hand-blown glass art, founded of the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, WA, the world’s most comprehensive center for glass art education.

Chihuly’s work also has a previous connection to the museum.  A collection of his glass baskets was shown in 2001.  The chandelier was purchased from an art gallery in New Orleans and currently hangs directly over the central staircase.

“We wanted to purchase a signature piece of art to commemorate the 90th anniversary,” explained Green.  “We were drawn to the fact that the piece is by a living artist who is world-renowned and whose work been shown here before.”

Now that the new addition is complete, plans are underway to bring in bigger and better exhibits and expand into more visual and performing arts programs.

“Our museum is critical to the state from an educational standpoint,” adds Bassi.  He points out that in the 90 years the museum has been in operation, it has never charged an admission.  “The families wanted to make sure that everyone would have access to the arts.”

Green agrees, “This museum is special to both the state and the South.  Education is first and foremost.   Most people think you have to go to New York to see artwork of this caliber.  However, we have a standard of excellence that we always strive to achieve.”