By MATT CRANE
With a few simple ingredients, Jay Yates is showcasing the best of Starkville’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.
“Thyme has some really great kitchen products, and what they do and what we do are along the same lines,” he said. “It’s not so much a cooking class, but rather showing people how we use the great produce grown locally.”
Yates said the demonstration will focus on three main vegetables: pin eyed-purple hull peas, speckled butter beans and okra.
“The pink eyed-purple hull pea is the best pea going right now, and we’ll be making a custard from the pot liquor, which are the juices from the cooked peas,” he said. “It’s a more culinary preparation of a local ingredient that’s velvety smooth.”
Yates said he will make a hummus out of the speckled butter beans.
“We’re making it with Tahini which is ground-up sesame seeds,” he said. “You’ll have that hummus-like consistency and flavor, but it’ll still be the butter beans we grow right here in Oktibbeha County.”
Yates said using okra was something familiar to him, having grown up harvesting the vegetable.
“I cut my teeth on Cajun cooking, so we’ll be making a Creole okra étouffée,” he said. “We’re taking locally grown ingredients and preparing them in a non-traditional way.”
Along with the three main dishes, Yates said he will also serve up a pimento and cheese preparation made with locally grown jalapeños and roasted red peppers for dips and sandwiches.
“At the restaurant, we cook to take care of our guests, but this is cooking for fun,” he said. “It’s all about getting in there and having fun with it.”
Yates said buying and cooking local has been a passion of his for some time.
“This last year, we focused as much as possible on using locally grown produce,” he said. “There’s farmers right here growing great produce. It might a little more expensive, but the product is so worth it.”
Yates’ free cooking demonstration begins at 4 p.m. Saturday at Thyme.
For more information, call 662-323-5979.