By MATT CRANE
With a few simple ingredients, Jay Yates is showcasing the best of Starkvilleâ€™s local produce.
The owner and chef of The Veranda will lead a free cooking demonstration Saturday at Thyme from 4-6 p.m. highlighting locally grown vegetables and presenting modern culinary twists on classic Southern produce.
Yates said holding the event at seemed like a natural connection.
â€śThyme has some really great kitchen products, and what they do and what we do are along the same lines,â€ť he said. â€śItâ€™s not so much a cooking class, but rather showing people how we use the great produce grown locally.â€ť
Yates said the demonstration will focus on three main vegetables: pin eyed-purple hull peas, speckled butter beans and okra.
â€śThe pink eyed-purple hull pea is the best pea going right now, and weâ€™ll be making a custard from the pot liquor, which are the juices from the cooked peas,â€ť he said. â€śItâ€™s a more culinary preparation of a local ingredient thatâ€™s velvety smooth.â€ť
Yates said he will make a hummus out of the speckled butter beans.
â€śWeâ€™re making it with Tahini which is ground-up sesame seeds,â€ť he said. â€śYouâ€™ll have that hummus-like consistency and flavor, but itâ€™ll still be the butter beans we grow right here in Oktibbeha County.â€ť
Yates said using okra was something familiar to him, having grown up harvesting the vegetable.
â€śI cut my teeth on Cajun cooking, so weâ€™ll be making a Creole okra Ă©touffĂ©e,â€ť he said. â€śWeâ€™re taking locally grown ingredients and preparing them in a non-traditional way.â€ť
Along with the three main dishes, Yates said he will also serve up a pimento and cheese preparation made with locally grown jalapeĂ±os and roasted red peppers for dips and sandwiches.
â€śAt the restaurant, we cook to take care of our guests, but this is cooking for fun,â€ť he said. â€śItâ€™s all about getting in there and having fun with it.â€ť
Yates said buying and cooking local has been a passion of his for some time.
â€śThis last year, we focused as much as possible on using locally grown produce,â€ť he said. â€śThereâ€™s farmers right here growing great produce. It might a little more expensive, but the product is so worth it.â€ť
Yatesâ€™ free cooking demonstration begins at 4 p.m. Saturday at Thyme.
For more information, call 662-323-5979.