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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Pascagoula offers summer swimming lessons

Screen-Shot-2017-03-30-at-10.19.23-AM Pascagoula offers summer swimming lessons

The City of Pascagoula Parks and Recreation department is offering swimming lessons  in the months of June and July.

Anyone ages 3 and up are open to register for classes offered in three different sessions from June 13-23, July 5-14 and July 18-28.

Classes are 45 minutes long and will be held at the Andrew Johnson Pool. Times for children’s classes are at 8 a.m., 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.. Adult classes will be at 5 p.m. only during the first and third sessions.

Cost for the classes is $35 for residents and $45 for non-residents, but scholarships are available. To register, visit the city’s website.

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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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MGCCC announces summer camps for Jackson Co. campus

Parents looking summer camps for their children have more options thanks to the Jackson County campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

The Outdoor Adventure Camp will be held through June 5-9 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day.

The camp is for children ages 13-15, and all participants must be comfortable in and on the water, including being competent swimmers.

Activities will include kayaking, swimming, canoeing, hiking, nature walks and a ropes challenge course.

The Robotics Camp will hold two session for varying skill levels.

Those with basic robotics skills from ages 10-15 will have a session on June 19-23, and those with intermediate skills ages 12-17 will have a session June 26-30. Each session will be held  from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day

This interactive camp will include building robots and stomp rockets as well as a competition among the campers using their robotic creations.

The Chemistry Camp will offer two sessions, one from July 10-14 and the second from July 17-21. Both sessions will last from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day.

Campers ages 11-14 will be able to create slime, glue, plexiglass crystals and much more. They will compete in a quiz bowl style competition and experience a trip to First Chemical.

Campers interested in Learning to Swim will have three opportunities with three sessions from June 5-16, June 19-30 and July 1-21. Classes will be at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. for each session.

Children ages 3 to 12 will experience a fun and instructive course overseen by lifeguards and certified instructors. Classes will meet for 50 minutes each day and are limited to 30 students each.

Visit the website for details about prices and registration, or contact Terri Sasser at terri.sasser@mgccc.edu or at 228-497-7633.

 

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Downtown sees Ocean Springs art festival

Sunshine peaked through the leaves of the live oak trees along Washington Avenue as vendors lifted their tents and organized their merchandise. The spring wind blew the smell of kettle corn and sounds of Caution Swing Bridge through Robinson Street. It was the weekend of the Spring Arts Festival.

In its 24th year, the festival is all about celebrating spring by offering an array of paintings, pottery, jewelry, plants, clothing and much more.  This free event also featured live music, artist demonstrations and educational sessions.

People of all ages stopped by tents to browse the works of regional artists, unique clothing pieces and handmade jewelry. 

Of course spring means flowers blooming, so there were plenty of vendors also offering an array of seedlings such as fruits, herbs and other plants.

While the rain did cut the first day of the festival short, the weather stayed sunny long enough for plenty of people to enjoy the event and browse the vendors.

The sunshine even made the perfect environment for some homemade ice cream, one of the numerous food options available at the festival. 

Everyone coming out on the last weekend of March made for the perfect departure for the cold days of winter and warm welcome to the beautiful days of a Mississippi spring.

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Audubon Center offering summer camps

The Pascagoula River Audubon Center is offering fun, nature-based summer camp programming for a variety of age groups.

Elementary, middle school, and mini-camps run from 9 a.m. until noon at the center. Our high school junior naturalist program runs 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day, and is field-trip based. Dates for the camps are listed below.

 

 

  • Mini-Camp for children entering kindergarten or first grade
    • Session 1: July 18-20
    • Session 2: July 25-27
  • Elementary Camp for children entering second through fifth grades
    • Session 1: June 5-June 9
    • Session 2: June 12-June 16
  • Middle School Camp for students entering sixth through eighth grades
    • June 19-23
  • High School Junior Naturalist Program students entering ninth grade through twelfth grade
    • June 26-30

 

Elementary and middle school camps costs $100/week per child for non-members and $90/week/child for members. Each week of camp includes a boat trip with McCoy’s River and Boat Tours.

Our high school junior naturalist program is $135/child for members and $150 for non-members.

The shorter mini-camps run Tuesday-Thursday and cost $50/camp/child non-members and $45/camp/child for members. We do not take the youngest campers on the Boat Tour. 

Visit the Audubon Center’s website for more details and to download the registration forms.

 

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Spring Nesting Season Has Begun

bluebird-nest-5-eggs Spring Nesting Season Has Begun Eastern Bluebirds commonly lay 4-6 turquoise eggs

 

According to the North American Bluebird Society, a non-profit that oversees bluebird conservation and education, the Eastern Bluebird nesting season begins on March 1st. Try telling that to our local Jackson County bluebirds, however, that started constructing their nests in early February.

By March 1st, many nest boxes not only were full of the pine needle and grass nests that are typical of Eastern Bluebirds, but the first clutch of 4-6 turquoise blue eggs were already laid.  

Bluebird eggs, like many songbirds, hatch after about two weeks of incubation. Bluebird parents both take an active role in raising the young ones, feeding them large quantities of insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. The young birds rapidly grow from featherless and helpless to noisy feathered “teenagers” begging for food. Within three weeks of hatching, these babies will be fully fledged and ready to fend for themselves. 

Once the fledglings leave the nest- some willingly and some encouraged by the parent birds- the adult male helps to feed them while the adult female starts the process of laying a new clutch of eggs. In our warm coastal climate, songbirds like bluebirds can raise four or more clutches in a season. 

Encouraging nesting birds in your yard is as simple as putting up a nest box appropriate to the species you hope to see and protecting it from predators. Bluebird boxes may also attract Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, House and Carolina Wrens, and more. Patterns to make a nest box can be found online for a variety of species. It is important to protect your nest boxes from predators- everything from raccoons to snakes to neighborhood cats like to eat bird eggs and young. 

It’s also critically important that we don’t disturb, touch, or collect nesting birds. Songbirds, as well as all of their nests, eggs, and feathers; are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

If you observe a baby bird that has fallen from its nest, continue to monitor it without touching it. In many cases, it is learning to fly and simply misjudged the landing. The parents are typically watching it and feeding it regularly. If the fledgling is in danger from predators, traffic, or something else, you may scoop it up and put it on a nearby branch out of the way, but where the parents can still observe the baby and feed it. 

Help our songbird populations have a successful nesting season by putting up nest boxes, keeping them clean and free of predators, and observing the babies from a safe distance. 

 

 

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Volunteers walk to fight heart disease

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Volunteers gathered from all across Jackson County at Pascagoula beach Saturday morning to join the fight against heart disease.

The 2017 Jackson County MS Heart Walk took place at the Pascagoula Beach Park on March 18. With heart disease causing roughly one in four deaths in the U.S., money raised from the heart walk is able to go to life-saving research.

One participant with the Chevron team has heart disease affect him personally in his lifetime.

“In 2007, I lost my mother to heart disease,” said Chris Cochran, a maintenance team leader. “My father has heart disease, and I was diagnosed with heart disease and had four heart stents.”

However, Cochran hasn’t let the odds discourage him.

“The heart walk is important to me to show even if you have heart disease, you can be very active,” he said. 

Saturday’s Heart Walk was able to raise over $98,000 for the American Heart Association.

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Maritime museum holds ribbon cutting

ribbon-cutting Maritime museum holds ribbon cutting

The Mississippi Maritime Museum’s phase one is now open after a ribbon cutting held Thursday, March 16.

Housed in the band hall of the old Pascagoula High School property, phase one involves an activity center to make maritime history and interactive experience for the whole family.

The goal of the museum is to tell the story of the state’s 300-year maritime history, preserving the past and educating future generations.

ribbon-cutting Maritime museum holds ribbon cutting

“This is not a Pascagoula museum,” said Mayor Jim Blevins “This isn’t a Jackson County museum. This isn’t even a Mississippi museum. This is a museum for all the ship builders across the nation.”

One unique aspect of the ribbon cutting was a christening of the museum, honoring the maritime roots. 

ribbon-cutting Maritime museum holds ribbon cutting

The next phase of the museum is projected to be complete in 2020, and will include the actual museum housed in the old math and science building of the high school.

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