Crossroads area “foodies” and cooking fans were treated to a day with one of the best-known cooks, authors and humorists in the country.
And she’s a Mississippi lady. In fact, she’s a Mississippi Debutante.
A native of the Mississippi Delta and now a resident of Oxford, Elizabeth Heiskell paid a visit to Gingers in historic downtown Corinth on Monday, sharing some of her favorite stories about growing up on a farm where tomatoes were not just grown, they were a delicacy.
Heiskell has been a regular food contributor to the Today Show as well as Southern Living Magazine and has been in the catering business for 22 years. She and husband Lyle have been married for 23 years and have three daughters; 23-year old Stott, 19-year old Mary Paxton, and 18-year old Lucia. The Heiskell’s own a nice spread in Oxford where they own and operate a veggie farm.
“I was raised in the Delta, but when Lyle came along, he swept me off my feet all the way to Oxford,” said the multi-talented celebrity. “I have been called a ‘Debutante Farmer’ but that is actually the name of a Bloody Mary mix I created several years ago. It’s literally called Debutante Farmer.”
“It’s really good,” said Gingers owner Ginger Stockton, who was thrilled to have Heiskell return once again this past week, this time with her fourth, and latest, cookbook “Come On Over”.
“She is so delightful and funny as she shares her life experiences. On top of that, she is a superb chef and author. We had about 50 people here today for the luncheon at The Conservatory and they all had a great time listening to and talking to her,” said Stockton.
Although the guest of honor, who signed her latest book for hundreds of fans following the luncheon, has been in Corinth before, Stockton said this trip was created kind of by chance.
“With the pandemic affecting book signings and visits the past year, it was hard to find a way to get her back,” said the local business owner about Heiskell’s return to Corinth. “Back during the snow a few months ago, I happened to see her on The Today Show promoting her new book and sharing recipes from it. I texted her that day and she immediately texted me back and we started talking and planning on her coming back and signing her new book.”
One of the driving factors behind the success of Heiskell’s cookbooks is the simplicity within the recipes themselves.
“One of the main things I try to do is fill my cookbooks with recipes that anyone can do in very little time,” said the author. “I realize people have very little free time these days. Every recipe in my cookbook is simple to make and requires minimal time to produce. And the best thing is they are all delicious – there’s something in there for everyone, no matter their tastes.”
Heiskell added, “But these cookbooks don’t just contain simple and tasty recipes, they also include stories from me about my childhood and how I learned to cook among other things. They’re just fun, entertaining stories that I feel people will enjoy reading. That’s the thing, too, is that with a lot of recipe books they get put on shelves and are seldom used. With my cookbooks, I created and designed them to be fun, interesting and something home cooks can leave out on their counters and refer to quickly.”
“Just call them entertainment pieces,” said the author, smiling.
The Oxford business owner, chef, caterer, author and amusing storyteller has published several cookbooks prior to her latest offering. Her first was “What Can I Bring” followed by the “Southern Living Party Cookbook” and “Somebody Stole The Cornbread From My Dressing”. She just entered her 22nd year as a caterer and remains available for a variety of functions.
“Catering is really the lifeblood of what I do,” she continued.
When asked if every recipe in her cookbooks were her creations alone, she said, “Many of them are. But over the years, there are some in there that were maybe from my mother and grandmother, while others are from friends who just happened to bring some recipe ideas with them when they visited.”
Fans of the Mississippi Debutante Farmer filled Gingers as they purchased her latest cookbook then waited for her to sign them – many with six or more books purchased.
One local follower who attended the event was Jackie Coombs, who offered her take on the veggie farm owner and cookbook author.
“I love her,” said Coombs. “She’s so funny and entertaining and tells the best true stories of her life growing up in the Delta.”
Signed copies of Heiskell’s latest book are available at Gingers, located on the corner of Fillmore and Cruise streets in historic downtown Corinth.