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The Julia Effect….Literary and Culinary Mashup 2014

What I love most about small towns is when people leave and still have a strong connection to the people, the culture, and the history of the town. Julia Reed is the definition of a small town advocate despite her life outside the Delta. Julia and I have a long family friend history; she is deeply entwined with the Smythe family, and does loyal duty as godmother to my niece, Mary. Through our family connection Julia and I have developed a great working relationship over the past several years.


As author to many fabulous and funny books about entertaining in the South, Julia always returns to the Delta for her infamous book parties.  Lagniappe launched her last book, But Momma Always Put Vodka in The Sangria. We held our own against other big city bookstores, selling over 300 copies in one night due to our amazing small town support.


We teamed together on the Delta Hot Tamale Fest last year and created the Literary and Culinary Mash Up event. It’s exactly what the name says….A mashup of great chefs and authors with links to the Delta or the South.  Julia tapped her friends and contacts bringing James Beard award winning chefs  and noted authors to the table, adding to the already fun, up-and-coming Hot Tamale Festival.


Last year the event kick-off party took place at the beautifully restored, Burrus House in Benoit, or as it is more commonly know, The Baby Doll House, named after the 1950’s film Baby Doll.  Surrounded by cotton fields on all four sides, this was the perfect setting to welcome New Yorkers, chefs, and authors from around the country, and locals for a dinner party and multi author book signing. With live entertainment and an off the cuff auction, the party was a huge success, raising money for downtown Greenville and raising awareness of the rich Delta culture.









Friday, a panel discussion was held at E.E. Bass where our guests touched on various foodie topics and their success beyond their roots.  That evening Lagniappe hosted a great art gallery opening where the works of Bill Dunlap, Linda Burgess, Maggie Dunlap, Rick Anderson, and Joan Griswold graced our walls.  We also had a big book signing with Garden and Gun’s editor, David DiBendetto. We were first to release their book, The Southerner’s Handbook, a Guide to Living the Good Life. The combination of art and authors is truly one of my favorite things, and a cocktail party never hurts either!


This year the Literary and Culinary Mashup is even bigger and better. We have award winning chefs preparing a mouth-watering menu for our guests who attend the Thursday night event at the Baby Doll House.


Here is the slate of interesting people heading South on October 16th-18th. Tickets go on sale July 16th and they won’t last long. Purchase Immediately…… A special thanks to Julia Reed for being a driving force behind this event and for being a HUGE advocate in revitalizing Greenville.



Douglas A. Blackmon, a native of Leland, Mississippi, is the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, and co-executive producer of the acclaimed PBS documentary of the same name. His is also a contributing editor at The Washington Post and chair and host of Forum, a public affairs program produced by the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and aired on more than 100 PBS affiliates across the U.S.


Roy Blount, writer and humorist, panelist on hit National Public Radio show “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” and columnist for Garden & Gun magazine. Blount’s books include Crackers, Roy Blount’s Book of Southern Humor, Alphabet Juice, and Feet on the Street, Rambles Around New Orleans.


Hank Burdine, contributing writer Delta Magazine. Burdine is a native Mississippi Deltan, noted sportsman, co-author of Panther Tract: Wild Boar Hunting in the Mississippi Delta, and contributor to The Delta: Landscapes, Legends, and Legacies of Mississippi’s Most Storied Region.


Regina Charboneau, a seventh-generation native of Natchez, is the proprietor of Twin Oaks, the historic bed and breakfast in her hometown, and culinary director of the American Queen riverboat. She and her husband most recently acquired the King’s Tavern, Natchez’s oldest building, in which they run a restaurant and a small-batch rum distillery. Her books include Regina’s Table at Twin Oaks and The Mississippi Current Cookbook: A Culinary Journey Down America’s Greatest River.


John Currence, chef/owner, City Grocery Group, including City Grocery, Boure, Big Bad Breakfast, and Snackbar. He is a James Beard award winner for Best Chef in the South (City Grocery) and author of Pickles, Pigs, and Whiskey.


William Dunlap, artist and writer. Dunlap’s work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Mississippi Museum of Art, and United States embassies throughout the world. Dunlap is also a noted curator, lecturer, and journalist who has contributed to many national magazines and books, including his own Dunlap, an overview of his work.


John T. Edge is the director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, where he documents, studies, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the American South. He is a contributing editor at Garden & Gun and a columnist for the Oxford American. A winner of the James Beard Foundation’s M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award, he has also been inducted into the foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. His books include A Gracious Plenty: Recipes and Recollections from the American South; Fried Chicken: An American Story; Donuts: An American Passion; and Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover’s Companion to the South. Edge is editor of the Foodways volume of the New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture and is general editor of the book series, Cornbread Nation: The Best of Southern Food Writing.


Jessica Harris is a professor of English at Queens College in New York and the founder of the Institute for the Study of Culinary Cultures at Dillard University in New Orleans, where she lives part time. A noted author and culinary historian, she is an expert on African and Caribbean cuisines. She is a founding member of the Southern Foodways Alliance, a member of the Board of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, and has been inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. Her numerous books include The Welcome Table: African-American Heritage Cooking, Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons: Africa’s Gifts to New World Cooking, High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America, and Rum Drinks: 50 Caribbean Cocktails, From Cuba Libre to Rum Daisy.


Eddie Hernandez, chef/co-owner Taqueria del Sol, an Atlanta-based chain of restaurants that blend the authentic flavors of Hernandez’s native Monterrey, Mexico with those of the American South. At the 2013 Delta Hot Tamale Festival, Hernandez took the prize for best tamale in the Celebrity Chef category.


Michael Hudman and Andrew Ticer, chefs/owners Hog and Hominy and Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen in Memphis, TN and authors of Southern Cooking, Italian Roots.


Donald Link, chef/owner, Link Restaurant Group, New Orleans. Link’s highly regarded restaurants include Herbsaint, Cochon, Butcher, and Peche. He is also the winner of two James Beard awards for Best Chef in the South (Herbsaint) and Best Cookbook (Real Cajun).


Jon Meacham is executive editor and executive vice president of Random House, a contributing editor to Time magazine, and a regular contributor on Meet the Press, Morning Joe, and Charlie Rose. In 2008, he received the Pulitzer Prize for American Lion, his bestselling biography of Andrew Jackson. He is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Franklin and Winston, American Gospel, and Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power.


Gayden Metcalfe, a native Mississippi Deltan, is the co-author of three books, including Being Dead is No Excuse, The Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral and Somebody is Going to Die if Lilly Beth Doesn’t Catch That Bouquet: The Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Wedding.


Ryan Prewitt, Memphis native, executive chef and part owner of Peche, the latest star in the Link Restaurant Group in New Orleans. Prewitt won the 2014 James Beard Award for Best Chef in the South and Peche won for Best New Restaurant in the country.


Susan Puckett, food journalist and blogger (“Notes from a Hungry Traveler”), author of Eat Drink Delta: A Hungry Traveler’s Journey Through the Soul of the South and co-author of Citizen Farmers: The Biodynamic Way to Grow Healthy Food, Build Thriving Communities, and Give Back to the Earth.


Julia Reed, native Mississippi Deltan, contributing editor and columnist for Garden & Gun magazine, and contributor to the Wall Street Journal for which she writes a food column. Reed is the author of five books including Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena; Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Southern Specialties; and But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria, Adventures in Eating, Drinking, and Making Merry.


 Jeremiah Tower was singled out by The New York Times as “America’s first celebrity chef.” Along with Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck, he is universally credited as being the architect of New American Cuisine, which radically changed the nation’s food landscape. He joined Waters’ Chez Panisse in 1974, changed the French menus to American ones using local ingredients, and put the restaurant on the map. His own restaurant Stars, in San Francisco, was at one time the top-grossing restaurant in the country. A two-time James Beard Award winner, he is currently a resident of Merida, Mexico. His books include Jeremiah Tower’s New American Classics; Jeremiah Tower Cooks: 250 Recipes from an American Master; America’s Best Chefs Cook with Jeremiah Tower; and California Dish: What I Saw (and Cooked) at the American Culinary Revolution.


Photos courtesy of John Montfort Jones,


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