MDA celebrates culinary achievements

As the New Year begins, the Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division kicks off 2011 with a month-long celebration of food, restaurants, chefs, recipes, specialty items and plenty of flavor along a Culinary Trail that will satisfy anyone’s appetite to discover the authentic Mississippi.
“Mississippi is known for great down-home cooking as well as distinctive upscale cuisine,” said Mary Beth Wilkerson, director of MDA’s Tourism Division. “By designating January as Culinary Month, the entire state is joining efforts to highlight the state’s unique eateries, specialty foods and dining experiences.”
MDA’s Tourism Division launched the Mississippi Culinary Trail in March 2010. It features an online, interactive map with background information, stories and details about eateries, restaurants and other food-related sites in every region of the state. The Culinary Trail highlights those singular local attractions travelers want to find, but often don’t know where to search for them.

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Now that problem is solved, so visitors can eat local throughout Mississippi and enjoy the bounty of farm-fresh produce and fresh Gulf seafood as well as traditions like hot tamales, catfish, barbeque and other Mississippi favorites.
To view the details of the Culinary Trail and its interactive map, go to:  www.VisitMississippi.org/shopping_dining/culinary_trail.asp.
Restaurants
No matter where you are in Mississippi, authentic restaurants are nearby. Whether you are sampling fresh seafood from famous local spots like Mary Mahoney’s in Biloxi, Cajun cooking at the Crescent City Grill in Hattiesburg, fine dining at Nick’s in Jackson, world-famous steaks at Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, real Southern barbeque at Little Dooey’s in Starkville or irresistible fried catfish at Taylor Grocery near Oxford, there’s something delicious here for every tastebud!
Chefs and Recipes
Mississippi is the proud birthplace or home of many past and present celebrities: actors, athletes, artists and, yes, chefs, too. Chef and humorist Robert St. John is not only a restaurant owner, he writes food columns and cookbooks that are quickly becoming some of the most popular gifts around.
Chef John Currence of Oxford was awarded the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s award for Best Chef South in 2009. Other notable Mississippi chefs include Cat Cora, the only female “Iron Chef” in that franchise’s history, and Martha Hall Foose, another popular chef and storyteller. These and other well-known chefs, along with lots of soon-to-be-famous ones, can be found all across Mississippi.
Cooking Products and Specialty Food Items
Mississippi is home to Viking Range Corporation. What started as a small operation is now a household name in cooking appliances, accessories and cooking schools. Based in Greenwood, Viking continues to grow and flourish with its headquarters and cooking school there, as well as a new cooking school in Ridgeland near the capital city of Jackson.
Jubilations Cheesecakes, based in Columbus, offers nearly endless flavors of cheesecakes that you can order online or over the phone. The Mississippi Cheese Straw Factory in Yazoo City is another favorite for holidays or anytime guests are gathered to celebrate any occasion, big or small.
The Indianola Pecan House in the Delta celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with pecans fixed however you like them. And remember, that’s pronounced “puh-kan,” not “pee-kan.”
There’s no better way to taste the flavors of Mississippi than by getting to know Mississippi’s fresh Gulf seafood, restaurants, cooking products, specialty items and Culinary Trail. Bring your appetite and a sense of adventure to enjoy all that Mississippi has to offer.

For more information about things to do and see in Mississippi, go to VisitMississippi.org or dial 1.866.SEE MISS.

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