In the Field

A Taste of Jackson in Atlanta

By: The Local Palate

Jackson, Mississippi, is home to a rich culinary history—and future. Three of the city’s culinary leaders recently represented Jackson at the 2021 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, September 10 through 11.

Through their tasting tents and on-stage cooking demonstrations, chefs Enrika Williams and Brian Myrick and pitmaster Eddie Wright showcased the foods and flavors from the City With Soul.

Here’s a glimpse of the trio, their take on Jackson’s food scene, and their experience in Atlanta:

Chef Enrika Williams (Fauna Foodworks)

Chef Enrika Williams is the Mississippi born-and-raised chef/owner of Fauna Foodworks, an abstract, reimagined culinary food lab that produces thoughtful, ingredient-driven, bohemian-chic cuisine in Jackson, Mississippi.

Chef Williams is creatively, socially, and radically vested and expressive in changing the conversations and expanding the culinary landscape through opportunities to advise, consult, host dinner series, popups, and curated menus for museums, publications, and virtual content. She is also the co-creator of Magnolia Sunset Markets, a curated project in Jackson.

Photo courtesy of Imani Khayyam

How do you describe Jackson’s cuisine?

Nuanced, yet profound. Many of our culinary traditions, style, and techniques (as well as the myriad of cultures influencing the culinary scene) can overlap and show up in many instances of great food. Everything from premium gas station eats to the classic fare of legacy soul food restaurants, as well as the finer dining establishments, still have a very clear and defined sense of ownership and pride in being from Jackson. It can be difficult to articulate but is easy to appreciate.

How did you feel about the opportunity to take part in Atlanta Food & Wine?

I was incredibly excited to return to Atlanta in the capacity as a featured chef at the AF&W festival. I attended culinary school in Atlanta and worked in the hospitality industry there for ten years. It felt good to come full circle to a place where I cut my culinary teeth.

What did you serve at the tasting tents and onstage for the event?

In both places, I prepared an heirloom tomato and watermelon gazpacho with a lump crab relish, micro herbs, a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt, and smoked olive oil.

Chef Brian Myrick (Johnny T’s Bistro & Blues)

Brian Myrick grew up in Chicago. When he was younger, he traveled to his mother’s home state of Mississippi for holidays and other occasions, a time he remembers for the “feasts” he would experience here. Myrick says, “I had never tasted anything that was truly prepared with love until I got to Mississippi.”

When Myrick decided to move to the Magnolia state, he knew his purpose was to learn how to prepare food like he grew up eating here. Myrick says, “That’s the best decision I’ve made in my life.”

Myrick is passionate about his art and feels like he’s “never worked a day in my life” because he enjoys culinary pursuits so much.

Previously, Myrick worked at Char Restaurant and Anjou in the Jackson area and has worked alongside chef Christian Amelot and chef Brian Cartenuto.

Photo courtesy of Paul Wolf

How do you describe Jackson’s cuisine?
I think some of the best food comes from the south, particularly Jackson. I think it’s more of a “modern Southern” cuisine.

How did you feel about the opportunity to take part in Atlanta Food & Wine?
I was very excited about taking part in the festival. I wanted to get a chance to showcase a taste of Mississippi to thousands of people and give them a taste of what’s to come when they visit us here.

What did you serve at the tasting tents and onstage for the event?
Shrimp and grits.

Pitmaster Eddie Wright (Eddie Wright BBQ)

Eddie Wright is a military veteran who has used barbecue as a means to cope with life and PTSD. While on this journey, Wright has been able to secure accolades on the “backyard circuit” as BBQ team of the year and, more recently, was named a recipient of a grant from Kingsford Charcoal’s Preserve the Pit program. One of the hottest new names on the food truck scene, Wright is on pace to show everyone who comes to see him, that all smoke and no sauce, is a true way of life everyone should try.

Photo courtesy of Curt L. McAfee/242 Creative

How did you feel about the opportunity to take part in Atlanta Food & Wine?
I felt like this was one of the most amazing opportunities to spread my wings on a large platform. Mississippi barbecue is important to me, and I think it’s time the world got to know that on a more intimate scale.

What did you serve at the tasting tents for Atlanta Food & Wine?
We prepared a smoked tater tot casserole one day and the next, smoked lemon pepper rib tips.

What did you cook for the onstage cooking demo?
A smoked chicken and waffle sandwich.

How do you describe Jackson’s cuisine?
Jackson cuisine is loaded with love and flavor. Most call it “C and C” (calories and carbs)! But it’s our genuine way of passing our love to the plate and to consumers. Mississippi has, hands down, some of the best chefs, cooks and pitmasters in the world. We’re just one small side of a wide range of flavors you can get when you come here. Take the time and get to know us. Hit the barbecue trail or the blues trail. Genuine Mississippi is just undeniable when it’s put on display in an array of flavors. We welcome everyone to the table.

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