A Challenge to End Hunger

Feeding the Gulf Coast, formerly known as Bay Area Food Bank, will be hosting their first Mississippi Chef Challenge on Thursday, September 21, 2017 at the Biloxi Civic Center in Biloxi, MS from 6-9 p.m.

About a year ago, the organization changed its name to better suit its growth of helping to end hunger across 24 counties along the Gulf Coast. 

Their website explains that the event is held during September to raise awareness for Hunger Action Month- a nationwide hunger-relief campaign set forth by their corporate affiliate, Feeding America. 

The chef challenge will feature 11 chefs from local casinos and restaurants to prepare a dish in one of the four categories: appetizer, entree, soup and dessert. The guests will sample the dishes and vote on their favorite chef in each category along with an overall “People’s Choice” category. In addition, they will also have qualified judges select a “Judge’s Choice” winner. Complimentary beer and wine will be served, so guests must be 21 & over. 

There will also be a silent auction, live entertainment, a photo booth and lots more. 

“We are really embracing the opportunity for community engagement and organization awareness. We want to be able to share our mission, tell guests who we are and the work we do within the extended counties”, says Haley Buchanan of Feeding the Gulf Coast. 

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $75 per person. 

“This event will allow us to continue efforts with our programs such as Backpack Program and our partner food pantries-ultimately leading to bring in more food to the people on the Gulf Coast”, says Buchanan. 

For more information on Feeding the Gulf Coast and The Chef Challenge visit, feedingthegulfcoast.org.

 

 

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Look out, downtown Pascagoula. A new bar, The Jury Room, is coming soon.

18198980_1907950516149362_2709481092288564062_n-225x300 Look out, downtown Pascagoula. A new bar, The Jury Room, is coming soon.The Jury Room, Deliberations and Libations, is taking on the nightlife crowd of downtown Pascagoula and intends to also make a developmental impact in the area.

It will be open after hours as a distinctive bar — unique to Pascagoula — offering more than 100 bourbons and whiskies, along with reasonably priced beer, wine, and craft beers, owners say. Additionally, the Jury Room will have competitively priced drinks and happy hour specials, but will also offer high-end liquors.

Owners Ramsay Taylor of Moss Point and Parker Pugh of Pascagoula both have experience in the industry. Taylor has three ‘Tay’s Barbeque’ stores based in Pascagoula and ‘Drinx Wine and Liquor Warehouse’ in D’Iberville. Pugh owns the Dairy Queen in Pascagoula, along with three other locations in Mobile.

The two owners plan to advocate for the revitalization of downtown Pascagoula with the new bar, in hopes that it will bring business to local shops and eateries.  “It will not only offer somewhere else where people can go after work or meet up for a sports game, but it will also help keep people here in Pascagoula to shop and dine at the nearby stores and restaurants”, says Pugh.

The Jury Room plans to offer some unique features in the former Fretz building. It will have a fenced-in outdoor patio, along with available leasing space. The owners took the building, put a wall up down the center and gutted the kitchen-making it three separate spaces for lease.  The former kitchen will be a small apartment, the east side will serve as The Jury Room, and the west side will be available for an office/retail location.

Owners state the building “had more potential than the other locations”. “Many folks, including us, want to see the downtown area thrive and offer something different and all in a central area. Our plan just happens to fit perfectly”, says Pugh.

The name and logo have yet to go up on the building, but The Jury Room’s Facebook page already has more than 500 likes.

Plan to spend your football game days and after business hours at The Jury Room, opening mid-to late August.

 

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Edd’s Drive-In expands to Hurley

IMG_1591 Edd's Drive-In expands to Hurley

The residents of Hurley  now have a new dining option thanks to the expansion of a Pascagoula original.

For nearly 60 years, Edd’s Drive-In was a Pascagoula exclusive, offering delicious chocolate malts and chili cheese dogs since 1953.

“It was originally built as a Dairy Queen, but after several years Ed McElroy changed it to Edd’s Drive -In, in order to not be restricted on the menu,” said Walker Foster, one of Edd’s original owners.

So what made the owners decide to expand to Hurley?

“We felt a lot of people had moved from [Pascagoula] after Hurricane Katrina, and we felt that the people in Hurley would enjoy it,” Foster said. “It gives them another eating spot there, and it gave us an opportunity to branch out on our menu.”

Not only is the Edd’s location in Hurley offering the classics that have been found in Pascagoula all these years, but also some new items have been added to the menu, including catfish plates and chicken nuggets. The Hurley location is also the first to allow diners to sit down and enjoy their meal.

Check out the Jackson County classic for yourself at 3834 Market Street in Pascagoula or 19400 Hwy 63 in Hurley.

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Diners offered challenge in Culinary Passport

Screen-Shot-2017-06-05-at-6.26.32-PM Diners offered challenge in Culinary Passport

Ocean Springs offers a variety of restaurants, and now diners have the opportunity to be rewarded for eating out thanks to the Ocean Springs Culinary Passport. 

The concept is simple: pick up a passport at the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. Spend $10 on food and drink at a participating Ocean Springs eatery (marked with a window decal) to get your passport stamped. After collecting 10 stamps from 10 different participating establishments, drop off or mail the passport to the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce to receive a free gift and be entered for a prize.

“This is the first time to provide a culinary passport in Ocean Springs,” said Cynthia Sutton, executive director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. “I have been part of other passport programs from the Heritage Trust stamp to the National Park service passport stamp, so it helped to give me the idea for something similar to showcase and continually promote and publicize our local restaurants and nightlife venues in Ocean Springs.”

The current passports are valid for an entire year, allowing anyone to participate in the program, from a family is stopping in for a vacation and need to know where to eat to an Ocean Springs resident who has trouble deciding what to have for dinner.

“It is a great way to get more exposure and publicity for their individual businesses,” Sutton said. “If locals and travelers know they are going to be rewarded, then it incentivizes folks to eat with us in Ocean Springs. Also, it is a fun tool to get out and challenge yourself to complete the project.”

Participants are also able to share their dining experiences on social media through #osculinarypassport, allowing the perfect opportunity to discover the diverse range of culinary experiences Ocean Springs has to offer.

For more information about participating restaurants, visit the Culinary Passport website.

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Ocean Springs holds annual Red, White & Blueberry Festival

June is the beginning of blueberry season, so there is no better way to spend the first Saturday in June than to enjoy the annual Red, White & Blueberry Festival in downtown Ocean Springs.

“We have it every June here in downtown, and what it is, we partner with the Ocean Springs Fresh Market,” said Cynthia Sutton, executive director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. “They beef up the vendors. We have blueberry growers, we have blueberry lemonade out here. We have all kinds of other good stuff. Then, courtesy of the Chamber, we give away free vanilla ice cream topped with blueberries from the vendors and strawberries. In addition to all of that, we have some cooking demonstrations out and here and some talks from the master gardeners, so it’s a fun day.”

Mixed amongst the usual Fresh Market vendors selling local produce, baked goods, and homemade crafts were tents specializing in blueberry treats, from fresh fruit to blueberry lemonade, a drink that was a welcome refreshment to the afternoon humidity caused by the morning showers. While it did rain during the festival, that did not seem to scare away any customers.

“The rain hasn’t kept anybody away,” Sutton said. “It has been amazing. I can’t tell you how many cups of ice cream we’ve given out so far, but the line has gone halfway through the fresh market, so it’s been a great turn out.”

During the festival, a shower did make an appearance, but that did not drive customers away. Knowing South Mississippi weather, some attendees took shelter from the rain under the train depot awning, choosing to wait 10 minutes for the sun to come back out. Some visitors simply pulled out their umbrellas, and others just walked through the rain completely unfazed and determined to get some good deals on some local goods. A few children even took the opportunity to splash in some puddles.

Other blueberry offerings included jams, blueberry baked goods and even a blueberry-pepper jelly, unique yet deliciously sweet and spicy offering from The Grumpy Man out of Purvis.

Visitors of all ages, from retirees looking for a fun weekend event and ways to supplement their home gardens to new parents needing a chance to get out of the house and also expose their young children to healthy eating at an early age, took the opportunity for experience this annual event as welcome to the summer season and get them exploring downtown Ocean Springs.

For anyone that might have missed the Red, White & Blueberry Festival, the Fresh Market will continue in Ocean Springs every Saturday, and with blueberry season still in its infancy, there is sure to be no shortage of blueberry offerings in the weeks to come.

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Moss Point holds inaugural farmers market

The River City has a new option for local produce. Saturday, June 3 saw the grand opening of the Riverfront Farmers Market. 

Located downtown along the Escatawpa River, residents and vendors spent a wet Saturday morning shopping for fruits, vegetables, plants, baked goods and homemade soaps

“Moss Point is a wonderful little city that’s got a lot going for it, but there are some things the city wants changed,” said Felicia Yearwood, the city’s grant writer. “People were really excited about the idea of a farmers market to support our local industry, our local farmers, make sure they are successful selling their produce here. It is also giving us an opportunity to have fresh local food that’s grown here in Mississippi. It isn’t shipped in from California or flown in from Brazil. It just recently came out of the ground yesterday. It’s fresh and good for you and at a good price, so people really do appreciate it.”

The farmers market was made possible thanks to a partnership between the Moss Point Parks and Recreation Department and the Healthy Hometown Committee.

“The Healthy Hometown Committee has been very active in promoting healthy eating in terms of improving the quality of items that we have in our city vending machines, encouraging people to grow their own gardens for their families,” Yearwood explained. “We’re looking into possibly having a community garden in the future.”

Committee member Peter Blank was very excited to describe some of the projects the group has been involved in.

“This committee is involved in getting more bike paths and sidewalks for the city,” he explained. “This farmers market is a way to get the community more environmentally conscious and more health conscious, promoting local food and healthy eating, supporting local farmers and cooking at home, which is good for your health.”

Even the though the clouds hung heavy Saturday morning, the weather did not deter visitors from this new farmers market.

“When we started out at 7 o’clock this morning, it was raining and people still came out,” Yearwood said. “We had people shopping with their umbrellas, and as the sun came out we’ve had more people show up. We’ve had people coming steadily through the whole morning.”

By 9:30 a.m., Blank said there were close to 100 visitors to the farmers market.

For anyone who may have missed the grand opening, the good news is farmers market is planned to be a permanent feature to Saturday mornings in Moss Point.

“The time is set right now from 7-11 a.m., but that can change depending on the feedback we get from our vendors and customers,” Yearwood said, “but definitely every Saturday of the year, rain or shine.”

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Local shop a must-visit for Donut Day

IMG_3795 Local shop a must-visit for Donut Day

The first Friday in June is annually observed as National Donut Day, and for residents of Jackson County, there is no better place for donuts than Tato-Nut Donut Shop.

Situated in a small yellow building on the corner of Government Street and Kotzum Avenue in downtown Ocean Springs is a business that has been open so long and become so iconic, it has practically reached landmark status. Today, Tato-Nut is lead by owners David and Theresa Mohler.

“My husband’s father [Robert] opened a donut shop back in 1960 called Spud Nut, ” Theresa recalled. “In the early 1970s that dissipated, so they kind of changed the recipe they had been working with and soon after opened Tato-Nut.”

Theresa has been involved with the business since 1988, and involved does not just simply mean as a co-owner.

“We are involved in every aspected of the business,” Theresa explained. “We mix every batch of dough, make all of the glaze and make all of the chocolate the goes on the donuts. We arrive every morning around 2 a.m. to get everything ready to open.”

While it may be a Jackson County original, Tato-Nut is becoming known far and wide throughout the Southeast, and even internationally.

“When we travel, like to Mobile, people know about Tato-Nut,” Theresa said. “We’ll be in Florida or we’ll be in some other place and people have heard of the shop. We actually went up to Ole Miss not too long ago to move our daughter in and people up there even knew about us. I think social media is kind of helping to spread the word. We’ll have people who are in the military that were stationed on the Gulf Coast for awhile and they got to visit and then they will be stationed in Japan and they still keep up with us on social media. We’ll put something and they will comment saying they wish they could get some donuts. People from out of town will come have a visit to our shop on their to-do list for their trip here.”

Being such a staple of the community is something the Mohlers do not take lightly.

“It’s a huge honor. It’s why we get up in the morning,” Theresa said. “We have become part of people’s traditions and, in a way, part of their families. It is a huge honor, but it is also a huge obligation to make sure we maintain that quality, so it is a double-edged sword.”

IMG_3795 Local shop a must-visit for Donut Day

The Mohlers also make sure to give back to the community that has shown them so much appreciation through donations to the Ronald McDonald House as well as donating the day’s leftovers to the local soup kitchen The Lord is My Help, located just blocks away from the shop.

So what is behind the success of Tato-Nut? Some might say it’s the unique recipe for these particular donuts, but Theresa Mohler has a different idea.

“We do add potatoes to our donuts, but I like to say that they taste the love,” she said. “You taste that we had a hand in everything that goes out of our front door.”

In honor of National Donut Day, Tato-Nut will offer a free coffee with any purchase on June 2, 2017.

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Vancleave home to blueberry field open to public

IMG_1549 Vancleave home to blueberry field open to public

Memorial Day weekend marks the end of school, the beginning of summer, and the kickoff for blueberry season in Jackson County.

Anyone who loves blueberries, whether using them in a favorite dessert or just eating a handful of berries as a snack, should not miss the opportunity to pick their very own blueberries, which anyone can do right here in Jackson County, thanks to Vancleave’s own Blueberry Heaven.

“A man by the name of Mr. Turner and his wife Martha planted this field about 20 years ago,” said Sissy Inabinette. “They planted the field when he was in his 60s, over 6,000 bushes. As he grew older, he decided to sell it. My brother [Lewis Faulk] ended up with it, and I ended up working it. Lewis and Mr. Turner were visiting one day and all this was in bloom and my brother said, ‘Oh my goodness, this must be what heaven looks like.’ So they ended up naming it Blueberry Heaven.”

Today, Blueberry Heaven has 6,500 mature blueberry bushes that all produce fruit for public picking. For $10, anyone who visits Blueberry Heaven can pick their own berries straight from the berries. For $20, a visitor can get a gallon of pre-picked berries.

“You never really know what a blueberry tastes like until you can pick it off the bush and eat it,” Inabinette said. “We don’t spray any pesticides, and in the super market a gallon of blueberries could cost you around $48. We encourage people to go have lunch or dinner then come and have dessert here on us.”

IMG_1549 Vancleave home to blueberry field open to public

Blueberry Heaven offers four varieties of blueberries, allowing visitors a longer time frame to pick their own fruit.

“Normally, there is a short window to pick blueberries, which lasts from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July,” Inabinette explained. “We have Bluetifs, some Premiers, some Climax and some Brightwells. The good thing about having four varieties is you’ll have one variety that starts at the end of May, and then another one that starts at the first of June. Then there is a late variety that comes in at the end of June, so there will be berries that will be here well into July. We encourage people to come pick in July, if they can handle the heat, and enjoy the late variety as well.”

IMG_1549 Vancleave home to blueberry field open to public

With thousands of blueberry bushes available to her, Inabinette has had plenty of chances to experiment with different blueberry recipes.

“I’ve made lots of jelly, lots of jam, lots of pies and now I’m trying a little bit of blueberry wine,” she said. “One recipe I like to share is really simple. You take a can of crushed pineapple and put it in your casserole dish. You add four cups of blueberries on top of it. You take a yellow cake mix and a stick of butter and mix it together. You crumble that on top of the fruit and put some walnuts on it. Bake it for about 35-40 minutes, and it is so delicious.”

Inabinette encourages anyone who enjoys blueberries, or anyone looking for something fun to do outdoors, to take a visit to Blueberry Heaven.

“Come and be amazed. It’s an awesome place to come and bring your children or bring your mom and dad,” she said. “It’s one of the best kept secrets of Jackson County.”

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Taste of Ocean Springs winners announced

The Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce has announced the winners for the 9th annual Taste of Ocean Springs.

Every year, attendees to Taste of Ocean Springs vote for their favorite entry from the participating restaurants and wine brokers in the categories of Best Drink, Best Entree, and Best Dessert.

This year, Vestige on Best Entree for their Grilled Pork Loin topped with Chicken Cracklin.

French Kiss Pastries won Best Dessert for their Tuxedo Cake.

Coastal Pacific Wine & Spirits won Best Drink as well.

Congratulations again to this year’s winners.

18527466_1294689970644141_2042134344502733991_o Taste of Ocean Springs winners announced
18527466_1294689970644141_2042134344502733991_o Taste of Ocean Springs winners announced
18527466_1294689970644141_2042134344502733991_o Taste of Ocean Springs winners announced
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Gautier holds first farmer’s market

market-1 Gautier holds first farmer's market
market-1 Gautier holds first farmer's market

Gautier residents have a new place to shop for their summer produce. May 13 saw Gautier’s first farmer’s market of the season.

Located in George Martin City Park from 8 a.m. until noon, visitors were offered selections from numerous local vendors. 

“We had Havens Down Home Creamery selling milk, eggs, cheese, and grass-fed beef,” said April Havens, Grants and Projects Administrator for the City of Gautier. “We had Gautier Gold Honey, Butts’ Bees Honey, and Island Sweets by Kay and Tay selling cakes, pies, pretzels, and popcorn. There we also local growers of vegetables of fruits selling things like snap beans, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, cucumbers, okra, fruit trees, shrubs, flowering plants and so many more.”

Farmer’s market are such a valuable resource due to the unique products they offer.

“It’s important for residents to support their local growers, who provide healthy and wholesome items at a good price,’ Havens explained. “It supports our local economy, encourages our entrepreneurs, and provides delicious options for our dinner tables. Markets such as these make fresh good easily accessible to our community.”

While this is the city’s first farmer’s market, Havens hopes it becomes a staple in the community.

“We plan to hold one the second Saturday of every month from May through October, though additional weekends may be added based on the overwhelming response from the first event,” Havens said.

The next market will be held June 10.

 

market-1 Gautier holds first farmer's market
market-1 Gautier holds first farmer's market
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