Taste of Ocean Springs highlights best of city cuisine

Jackson County is home to many amazing local restaurants. Not only does the area obviously offer some incredible seafood, but there are so many different kinds of cuisines available just within the city limits of Ocean Springs. Downtown Ocean Springs is home to restaurants that offer steaks, seafood, pizza, barbecue, Mediterranean dishes, Southern favorites and so many more. Thanks to events like Taste of Ocean Springs, community members are able to sample all of that food in one place in one night. 

Featuring 20 different restaurants and 10 different wine brokers, the 9th Annual Taste of Ocean Springs Food and Wine Festival was sold out with everyone excited for this unique event. 

IMG_0344 Taste of Ocean Springs highlights best of city cuisine
IMG_0344 Taste of Ocean Springs highlights best of city cuisine

“We sold 500 tickets this year, so we have an amazing crowd and in addition to that we have a lot of fun stuff this year,” explained Cynthia Sutton, Executive Director with the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. “We’re featuring a master potter Anita Hughes, so we have her vases on all the tables. We partnered with Mercedes-Benz, and we’re showing some of their cars here. We’re doing some fun giveaways with our partners like Golden Nugget, so it’s just a lot of great things happening here.”

However, with all of the wonderful additions to the event, everyone gathered at the L & N Depot for the star of the night: the food. The evening breeze carried the enticing aromas through downtown. The crowd looked like something out of My Fair Lady with the dress code asking attendees to dress in red, white or black, adding to the elegant atmosphere of the outdoor festival. 

So many different dishes were available at Taste of Ocean Springs that anyone could have found a dish to enjoy. French Kiss Pastries offered a decadent Tuxedo Cake with chocolate and espresso. Greenhouse on the Porter had a light chocolate chip biscuit. Chefs from the Mary C. Cafe at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural center offered Chipotle Sweet Potato Biscuits with Beer and Bacon Jam. McElroy’s had shrimp and grits as well as seafood gumbo samples. Vestige allowed attendees to sample a grilled pork loin. Different pizzas were offered from Tom’s Extreme Pizzeria as well as Marco’s Pizza for anyone that wanted felt the need for some comfort food.

Anyone looking for something to wash all of this amazing food down did not have to look far, because it felt like every other booth offered a unique cocktail. Mango sangria made with tequila, Mississippi Mules based with honey suckle vodka distilled in the Magnolia State and so many more concoctions were available for sampling.

Not only did this event allow community members to sample different dishes from Ocean Springs restaurants, but it also served to benefit the local economy of downtown Ocean Springs.

“It brings a big economic impact to the Gulf Coast and Jackson County,” Cynthia explained. “We have people come from all over that will stay in our boutique hotels and spend the night just to be able to attend this event. Restaurants will get new customers out of this event, and it showcases the best that Jackson County has to offer.”

As for what’s in store next for Ocean Springs, Free Food Fridays is continuing through the month of May, and Ocean Springs Restaurant Week will begin May 13 to further celebrate the dining culture of Ocean Springs. 

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Yacht club chef returns to Food Network

One of the great things about the Mississippi Gulf Coast is the amazing food the region offers.

It isn’t just because of the local seafood or the proximity to New Orleans. All of those assets would mean nothing if not in the hands of talented chefs such as Food Network-featured Stacie “Cheffy” Vande Wetering.

cheffy-ggg Yacht club chef returns to Food NetworkWetering has been featured on Beat Bobby Flay and is now returning to Guy’s Grocery Games as part of a Winner’s Tournament after winning on the first episode she competed in, which was a whirlwind of an experience.

“I remember getting a call on a random Wednesday afternoon in October asking if I would be interested in auditioning for Guy’s Grocery Games. I did a Skype interview that Friday and then had 48 hours to submit a three-minute video of myself to determine if my personality would be right for the show. It was a long process of lots of phone calls and being asked the same questions over and over again.”

Wetering flew out the week before Thanksgiving and ended up appearing on a special episode of the series.

“It turns out I’m working with another chef during this competition who I’ve literally never met before. You’ve got two people crammed into this cooking station that is really only meant for one, and he’s a foot and a half taller than me on top of that.”

Guy’s Grocery Games is a show, hosted by Guy Fieri, that sends four chefs shopping for ingredients in a grocery store set to then make a dish for the challenge. However, things are not as straightforward as they seem because the challenge also lies in the different parameters set for the shopping and cooking, such as a budget or an unexpected added ingredient all while under a time limit for the shopping and cooking.

“I just remember it all being a whirlwind,” Wetering recalled. “Those clocks are for real and that was the fastest 30 minutes I have ever experienced in my life. You just go into automatic pilot. Even though we had just met, [my partner and I] worked together like we had been working together for 20 years.”

Wetering and her partner won the competition for that episode, and now she is returning to the Flavortown Market.

“I got a phone call asking if I would be interested and available to compete in a winners’ tournament and I said of course. While I can’t say much about it now, I will say I ended up competing against my partner from the first episode I was on. We keep in touch, but we didn’t know we were both invited back until we were flying out.”

Competing on Food Network programming is just the latest accomplishment Wetering has made in her culinary career.

Wetering has had a passion for cooking since early in her life, inspired by her father. She decided early in her college career that her ideal classroom was the kitchen and her instructor a professional chef.

“I’ve been cooking for almost 27 years now,” she said. “I started a formal two-year apprenticeship under a German chef in Orange Beach, Alabama, working from 1991-1993. I’m not knocking culinary schools, but I firmly believe I would not have gotten as far in my career as I did if not for my apprenticeship.”

Wetering’s culinary career has included working under five different Certified Master Chefs, the highest level of achievement from the American Culinary Federation.

“At any one time, there are only 55-65 Certified Master Chefs in the world,” Wetering said.

Wetering has experience with cuisine in the style of classic French, Italian, Asian, Central and Southern Mexican. She can do everything in her kitchen from managing the menu to washing the dishes.

“In cooking, you have to pay your dues,” Wetering said. “As a chef, you need to be able to do everything in your kitchen to have the respect of your staff. A lot of my career I’ve been choosey about who I work for. I knew what I wanted to learn and what I wanted to do.”

Wetering has worked in numerous restaurants throughout Atlanta as well as New York and various locations in Alabama. She now finds herself as General Manager and Executive Chef at the Singing River Yacht Club in Pascagoula.cheffy-ggg Yacht club chef returns to Food Network

“If you had asked me five years ago if I would be interested in moving to South Mississippi running a private yacht club, I would say you’re insane,” Wetering joked.

Wetering’s previous position was working as the Executive Chef at a tennis club in Fairhope, Alabama.

“I had a lot of freedom with my menu and a great crew,” she recounted. “But even if I’m happy in my position I’ll talk to anyone because you never know what might happen. I was asked to interview for this position at a club where the board felt it was time for a change. “

Change is exactly what Wetering brought with her.

“I’m all about a challenge. I’m a fixer. I’m type A. Over my career I would go into a kitchen, and whatever it was the kitchen may or may not have been functioning as best as it could. I would fix it and then I would need something else to challenge me. We’re still a work in progress, but in nearly two years, we now have a waiting list for members, which has never happened before. We have tripled profit and now this is where everyone wants to be. I still have a way to go and still so much I want to do with it. I’m not trying to make it fancy or high end, but a great family-friendly yacht club.”

While the Mississippi Gulf Coast is a change from Atlanta and New York, Cheffy is happy to call Pascagoula her home.

“We have no plans to go anywhere. We’re even buying a house. You just can’t beat where we leave.”

 

 

 

 

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Community votes for ‘Best of Pascagoula’

The City of Pascagoula called for votes, and the people answered. 

In February, the city launched the “Best of Pascagoula” program asking for nominations in 30 categories of things to see and do in Pascagoula. 

The goal of the program is to bring awareness to the city’s community assets.

The voting closed on March 24, and the winners have been announced.

  • Best Art Gallery: River Art Gallery
  • Best Community Event or Festival: Zonta
  • Best Landmark or Local Attraction: Bozo’s Seafood Market & Deli
  • Best Free Kid’s Activity: Movie Night Under the Stars
  • Best Park: Beach Park
  • Best Place to Fish/Crab/Flounder: Beach Park Fishing Pier
  • Best Place to Take Out of Town Guests: Bozo’s Seafood Market & Deli
  • Best Project you’d like to see happen in Pascagoula: More Restaurants
  • Best Reason to Live in Pascagoula: Coast Life
  • Best Thing Pascagoula Needs: Movie Theater
  • Best Trail: Beach Boulevard
  • Best View: Beach
  • Best Volunteer Opportunity: Coastal Cleanup
  • Best Breakfast: Sarah Sue’s
  • Best Family Dinner: Cornerstone
  • Best Lunch Place: Bozo’s Seafood Market & Deli
  • Best Buffet: Jerry Lee’s Grocery & Deli
  • Best Burger: Edd’s Drive In
  • Best Po-Boy: Bozo’s Seafood Market & Deli
  • Best Sweet Treat: Anderson’s Bakery
  • Best Seafood Place: Bozo’s Seafood Market & Deli
  • Best Pizza: New York Pizza
  • Best Tamales: La Fiesta Brava
  • Best Sandwich Shop: Lenny’s Sub Shop
  • Best Healthy Option: Nura Juice
  • Best Place to Hear Live Music: Jack’s By the Tracks
  • Best Cocktail or Drink: Jack’s By the Tracks
  • Best Beer Selection: Jack’s By the Tracks
  • Best Liquor Store: Liquors Unlimited
  • Best Place to Meet After Work: Jack’s By the Tracks

Awards will be presented to the winners at the City Council Meeting held April 4.

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Bozo’s honored as Family-Owned Business of the Year

12593726_1006038432804662_2960002078971616502_o Bozo's honored as Family-Owned Business of the Year

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A Jackson County landmark has been honored by the Small Business Administration as the 2017 Generational Family-Owned Business of the Year Award.

Boasting some of the finest fresh seafood and signature seasonings, Bozo’s Seafood Market and Deli has been a staple of Pascagoula for over 60 years. 

Many reviews rave the restaurant’s seafood selection, so check out the place to judge for yourself.

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