Get ready to indulge in culinary delights as 12 of Jackson, Mississippi’s finest chefs showcase their skills at the first-ever JXN Food & Wine Festival on March 2, 2024.
Hosted by The Local Palate in collaboration with the City With Soul and Visit Mississippi, the festival will take place at the Mississippi Museum of Art. With a mix of exceptional local talent and renowned national chefs, this festival promises to leave your taste buds wanting more.
Get to Know the Talent
Hunter Evans, Elvie’s
A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Hunter Evans discovered a love for cooking while working in the kitchens helmed by acclaimed chef John Currence while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. Evans continued his training at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. While enrolled at the CIA, Evans staged at some of NYC’s top restaurants, including Le Bernardin, Cafe Boulud, and Daniel. After graduation, Evans went on to work for Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality before returning to Mississippi to fulfill his dream of opening a restaurant in his hometown. Hunter has formed strong relationships with Mississippi farmers and purveyors and showcases regional ingredients at his new restaurant, Elvie’s. Inspired by his travels through Europe and memories with his grandmother in New Orleans, Elvie’s offers a modern take on classic French cuisine through the lens of Southern culinary traditions and ingredients. Since opening Elvie’s, Evans has received lots of recognition as well as being named as one of Plate Magazine’s chefs to watch.
Chaz Lindsay, Pulito Osteria
Jackson native, chef Chaz Lindsay is the executive chef and owner of one of the city’s hottest new restaurants, Pulito Osteria. While Lindsay’s culinary career began humbly working in a local pizza shack as a teenager, it was there he set his sights on honing his knife skills and attending the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Upon graduating in 2011, Lindsay worked in some of the most acclaimed kitchens in New York, including Craft, Colicchio and Sons, and Eleven Madison Park. Looking for his next adventure and a deeper appreciation of Italian cuisine, Lindsay traveled abroad to cook in a restaurant just outside of Rome. Pulito Osteria is a full circle moment for Lindsay, serving as executive chef and owner and bringing together his family roots in Jackson while offering diners a fresh take on Italian-inspired dishes in a warm, welcoming setting.
Eddie Wright, Eddie Wright BBQ
Veteran owned and operated, Eddie Wright is one of Central Mississippi’s newest and highly visible pitmasters on the circuit. He competes in barbecue competitions, and extends that same passion into a mobile food truck to bring amazing barbecue to the masses. What started out as a backyard hobby and a way to cope with PTSD has turned into recognition and a full arsenal of barbecue greatness that is able to be brought to anywhere in the state.
Geno Lee, Big Apple Inn
Big Apple Inn traces its roots back to 1939, when Mexican immigrant Juan Mora sold tamales out of a cart on Jackson’s historic Farish Street, a location which at the time was a bustling center of Black commerce and culture. Eventually, Mora would open his own restaurant, Big Apple Inn, on the same street. Today, the restaurant is owned and operated by Mora’s great-grandson, Geno Lee, who carries on the family tradition. Lee serves up delicious and affordable tamales, spicy ground-pork sausage sandwiches called “red hots,” and, most famously, tenderized and seasoned pig-ear sandwiches. While the restaurant is known for its humble menu, Big Apple Inn has a historical importance. The restaurant was a frequent meeting spot for central figures in the American Civil Rights Movement and, in more recent years, has attracted visits from celebrities including B.B. King, Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern, and Barack Obama.
Fabien Biraud, Estelle
Executive chef Fabien Biraud brings a set of culinary skills that he’s sharpened over 20 years in restaurants across the U.S. and France. His path to Estelle and The Westin Jackson began in France, where he studied and worked at various locations. Biraud then took his kitchen talents to restaurants all over Georgia, including JOËL, BLT Steak, and Home Restaurant, before the hotel world called. Biraud has dedicated the last 13 years to the hospitality industry, including roles at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, Bachelor Gulch, Le Meridien Atlanta, W Buckhead, Hyatt Regency, and Loews Hotel Atlanta. In addition, he spent two years task forcing as a chef at hotels in Washington, DC, and Roswell, Georgia. As he continues his career in the South, Biraud brings his expertise to Estelle at The Westin Jackson.
More Participating Chefs from Jackson
Joseph Sambou, Sambou’s African Kitchen
Enrika Williams, Fauna Foodworks
Grant Hutcheson, Pig & Pint
Pierre Pryer Sr., Iron Horse Grill
Cristina Lazzari, La Brioche Patisserie and Spark Confectionary
Damien Cavicchi, Hal & Mal’s
LaMarcus Robinson, Oops All Vegan
Learn More about JXN Food & Wine
All ticket holders will enjoy tastings from more than 20 local and regional chefs along with samples of wine, beer, spirits, and nonalcoholic offerings, a demo stage with Top Chefs, and live music.
Doors open for general admission at 6:30 p.m. VIP ticket holders are invited to arrive at 6 p.m. for early access, including an exclusive VIP area with hors d’oeuvres and a complimentary bar, dedicated restrooms, and a celebrity chef meet-and-greet.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Mississippi Restaurant Association Education Foundation. This initiative supports aspiring students pursuing higher education in restaurant management and culinary arts.
Visit jxnfoodandwine.com for more details.
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by TLP Editors
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by TLP Editors