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Who stole the cornbread? Mississippi's Debutante Farmer makes a visit to Columbus

 

From left, Columbus native Sarah Virden Gillis, Chef Elizabeth Heiskell of Oxford and staff member Kimsey King pause for a photo at Graham’s Camp House in Columbus Feb. 10. Northwood Garden Club and Belle Fleur Garden Club hosted the chef who has been featured in Southern Living magazine. Gillis is event coordinator for Heiskell, who authored the cookbook “Somebody Stole the Cornbread from My Dressing.”

From left, Columbus native Sarah Virden Gillis, Chef Elizabeth Heiskell of Oxford and staff member Kimsey King pause for a photo at Graham’s Camp House in Columbus Feb. 10. Northwood Garden Club and Belle Fleur Garden Club hosted the chef who has been featured in Southern Living magazine. Gillis is event coordinator for Heiskell, who authored the cookbook “Somebody Stole the Cornbread from My Dressing.” Photo by: Mark Wilson/Dispatch Staff

 

Launch Photo Gallery

 

The Feb. 10 event featured a biscuit bar with Heiskell’s farm-made jams and jellies, as well as a Bloody Mary bar for about 150 guests.

The Feb. 10 event featured a biscuit bar with Heiskell’s farm-made jams and jellies, as well as a Bloody Mary bar for about 150 guests.
Photo by: Mark Wilson/Dispatch Staff

 

Chef Elizabeth Heiskell addresses garden club members and guests at a biscuit and Bloody Mary party in Columbus.

Chef Elizabeth Heiskell addresses garden club members and guests at a biscuit and Bloody Mary party in Columbus.
Photo by: Mark Wilson/Dispatch Staff

 

Chef Heiskell’s Debutante Farmer Bloody Mary Mix is made with tomatoes grown on the farm she and her husband operate in Oxford.

Chef Heiskell’s Debutante Farmer Bloody Mary Mix is made with tomatoes grown on the farm she and her husband operate in Oxford.
Photo by: Mark Wilson/Dispatch Staff

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

Chef Elizabeth Heiskell made a recent visit to Columbus, bringing along copies of her cookbook "Somebody Stole the Cornbread from My Dressing," her own signature jams, jellies, pimiento cheese, chicken salad and Bloody Mary mix -- and biscuits, lots and lots of biscuits. 

 

Two Columbus garden clubs, Northwood and Belle Fleur, combined efforts to bring Heiskell to the Golden Triangle. At a gathering of about 150 people at Graham's Camp House Feb. 10, the Oxford-based Debutante Farmer and her staff served up a biscuit bar complete with succulent ham, savory sausages, farm-whipped butter and jellies from Woodson Ridge Farms, which Heiskell and her husband, Luke, operate. 

 

The former Viking Cooking School lead culinary instructor entertained guests with stories of how her cookbook evolved. Described on the cover as "a hilarious comparison between the North and South through recipes and recollections," the compilation written with Susanne Reed (and published by Overmountain Press in 2010) answers the question of what to serve for everything from a tailgate to a bridal shower.  

 

"She was delightful and very funny. She's a great speaker; it was absolutely packed," said co-hostess June Boyd about the Delta-born Heiskell. "And we really appreciate the use of Graham's Camp House; Jimmy Graham is so generous to offer his space." 

 

 

 

Columbus ties 

 

A familiar face to many guests at the biscuit and Bloody Mary party was Columbus native Sarah Virden Gillis. The daughter of William F. and Martha Gillis is the event coordinator for Heiskell, who stays busy with not only her Debutante Farmer line and Woodson Ridge Farms, but with Elizabeth Heiskell Catering as well.  

 

"I fell in love with her whole concept of farm to table," said Gillis Tuesday by phone, in the middle of preparation for a catered Memphis wedding for hundreds of guests. Gillis noted that many of Heiskell's products are made with produce grown at Woodson Ridge -- from the tomatoes in the Bloody Mary mix to the chef's pickled okra. The farm's mission is to provide high quality seasonal produce to chefs, restaurants and families making the effort to use healthier foods and help the environment.  

 

On being part of an event in her own hometown, Gillis said, "I had a blast. I had no idea I was going to see as many people as I did. It was wonderful to come home and show something going on in the state that Columbus may not have been aware of." 

 

Nancy Landrum was among the biscuit bar guests. 

 

"Elizabeth Heiskell held our attention for about an hour. She was hilarious; we all just had the best time laughing," said Landrum. "All the food was fabulous. Her pimiento cheese is the best ever." 

 

The combination of good food and fellowship turned a cold day into a warm experience for everyone involved. 

 

"It was a great gathering of two clubs and their guests," said Boyd.

 

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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