Gala Welcome Dinner & Book Signing
Belmont Plantation, Est 1857
3498 Highway 1 South
Greenville, MS, 38701
Experience the beauty of Belmont’s stunning parlors and porches as well as the company of our stellar lineup of authors, artists, and chefs. Have them sign your books while you enjoy great music, terrific hors d’oeuvres, and specialty cocktails (as well as a full bar, of course).
Next, sit down to a three-course plated Delta Harvest dinner beneath a tent on Belmont’s gorgeous grounds.
This year, our amazing team of chefs is made up of multiple New Orleans restaurant stars, including: Donald Link of the Link Restaurant Group, Jason Goodenough of Carrollton Market, Kristen Essig of Coquette, Mason Hereford of Turkey and the Wolf, Rebecca Wilcomb and David Rouse of Herbsaint, and Billy Jones of Cochon. They will be joined by the Delta’s own Cole Ellis of Delta Meat Market fame and Hugh Balthrop of Sweet Magnolia Gelato. Settle in for a brief live auction, after-dinner dancing, and lots of Delta-style fun.
Learn more about the circa 1857 Belmont, one of the few antebellum houses remaining in Washington County here: Visit Belmont Plantation
2018 Celebrity Chef and Author Line-Up
John Alexander, a painter and native of Beaumont, TX, has made his home in Manhattan and Amagansett, NY since the late 1970s. He has exhibited extensively in the U.S. and around the world. In 2007, a major retrospective of his work opened at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. His drawings and paintings reside in the permanent collections of institutions including: the Dallas Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, as well as in many other distinguished public and private collections worldwide. His books include John Alexander: A Retrospective; One World, Two Artists: John Alexander and Walter Anderson; and Human/Nature, The Ridiculous and Sublime: Recent Works by John Alexander.
Hugh Balthrop is founder and creative director of Sweet Magnolia Gelato Co., based in Clarksdale, MS. A former art gallery owner in Washington, DC, he followed “the love of his life” to the Delta in 2000 and started making ice cream for family and friends. After attending a course in ice cream-making at Penn State and studying under a gelato master, he launched Sweet Magnolia, putting a Southern twist on traditional Italian techniques and using locally sourced ingredients, including Mississippi grass grazed milk and cream, honey, sorghum, pecans, eggs, blueberries, and pound cake. Sweet Magnolia Gelato is available in more than 100 retail locations across the South and bears the tagline “Created by us, inspired by y’all.”
Scott Barretta is the host of Highway 61 on Mississippi Public Broadcasting, a writer/researcher for the Mississippi Blues Trail, and an instructor of sociology at the University of Mississippi. The former editor of Living Blues magazine, he was a producer of the recent documentary film "Shake 'em On Down" about Mississippi Fred McDowell. His current work includes creating podcasts and lesson plans based on the 1941 Library of Congress/Fisk University study of African American life in the Delta. In 2016 he received the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.
William N. Beckwith is a Greenville native who, at the tender age of 14, became an apprentice in the studio of Leon Koury. Koury had studied with Malvina Hoffman in New York who in turn had studied with Auguste Rodin in Paris. In 1976 Beckwith earned an M.F.A. in sculpture from the University of Mississippi in Oxford, where he owned and operated Vulcan Studios & Foundry, Mississippi’s first commercial fine arts bronze foundry from 1976 to 1986. His work has been shown in numerous galleries and museums nationwide including the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Public commissions by include life-size or larger monuments of Elvis Presley, B.B. King, and William Faulkner. Beckwith’s portrait busts include those of Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Richard Wright, and Herman Melville. Beckwith currently lives with his wife and son in Taylor, Mississippi where he recently completed a 9,850 square foot studio.
Roy Blount, Jr. is an author and humorist, panelist on the 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, and Feet on the Street, Rambles Around New Orleans. His latest book, a collection of essays titled Save Room for Pie: Food Songs and Chewy Ruminations was published by Farrar Straus in 2016.
Hank Burdine, contributing writer Delta Magazine, 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. His latest book, Dust in the Road, Reflections of a Delta Boy, was published in September 2018.
William Dunlap, artist and writer, is a Mississippi native who now resides in McLean, VA and Coral Gables, FL. 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. His latest book, Short Mean Fiction, Words and Pictures, was published in April 2016.
Cole Ellis was born and raised in Cleveland, Mississippi, where he owns Delta Meat Market. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of Charleston, he worked at a series of Charleston’s top restaurants, including the Hominy Grill and Magnolia’s. Before returning home in 2013 to start his market, restaurant, and catering business, Ellis served as chef de cuisine at Nashville’s famed Hermitage Hotel for seven years.
Kristen Essig was born and raised in Florida and began her culinary career in Charleston. For the last 17 years she has made her home in New Orleans, starting out with Emeril Lagasse at Emeril’s and spending four years at the late and much lamented Peristyle, where she worked with beloved Chef Anne Kearney. She has worked as a private chef and as market manager at the Crescent City Farmers Market, where she cultivated strong relationships with local farmers and producers. Essig is currently co-chef and partner at Coquette. She and her co-chef and partner (in the restaurant and in life) Michael Stoltzfus were 2018 James Beard Award finalists in the Best Chef in the South category.
Huger Foote is a photographer with deep Delta roots who was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. He has held numerous solo exhibitions in London, New York, Paris, and other cities, including his hometown, and his photographs hang in many public and private collections. A collection of his work My Friend from Memphis was published in 2000 and features text by William Eggleston and film director Bernardo Bertolucci. His latest monograph, Now Here Then was released in October 2015. He resides is upstate New York.
Sara Foster graduated from New York Restaurant School and worked for some of New York’s most respected restaurants and caterers before joining Martha Stewart as a chef for her catering company. In 1984, she started a catering business of her own in Greenwich, Connecticut. In 1990 Sara and her husband Peter moved to Durham, NC and opened Foster’s Market, a much-loved gourmet food market and café with a second location in Chapel Hill. Her cookbooks include: The Foster’s Market Cookbook: Favorite Recipes for Morning, Noon, and Night; Fresh Every Day: More Great Recipes from Foster’s Market; Casual Cooking: Simple Fresh Recipes for the Way We Eat Today; and Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen.
Jason Goodenough was born in Atlanta but spent his childhood between Manhattan and London. After graduating from Millsaps College in Jackson, MS, he earned a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. Chef Goodenough has since worked with legendary Philadelphia chef Georges Perrier and Iron Chef Morimoto and did a stint as a private chef in South Dakota while also working in leading New Orleans restaurant kitchens. In 2014 he opened the critically acclaimed Carrollton Market in Uptown New Orleans. In 2017, he was named Chef of the Year by New Orleans magazine.
Jessica Harris is a retired professor of English at Queens College in New York and the founder of the Institute for the Study of Culinary Cultures at Dillard Universtiy 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 and a member of the Board of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans. She also has been inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s prestigious Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. Her books include Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons: Africa’s Gifts to New World Cooking and High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America. Her latest book, My Soul Looks Back: A Memoir, was published in May 2017 and recalls a lost era—the vibrant New York City of her youth, where her social circle included Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, and other members of the Black intelligentsia.
Mason Hereford is the owner of the wildly popular Turkey and the Wolf, the New Orleans sandwich shop that was chosen best new restaurant of 2017 by Bon Appetit magazine. Prior to opening his own restaurant, he was chef-de-cuisine at the critically acclaimed Coquette, also in New Orleans, for six years. In late 2018, his second restaurant, Molly’s Rise and Shine will open on Magazine Street. Hereford was born and raised in Charlottesville, VA and moved to New Orleans in 2008.
Didi Hoffman grew up in South Florida and has enjoyed a successful career in marketing and design. In 2018, she published Beautiful Bodies, The Adventures of Malvina Hoffman, an epic tale of the visionary sculptor Malvina Hoffman, who was the great aunt of the author’s husband, Charles L. Hoffman III. The book, heralded as “valuable” by Kirkus reviews, chronicles Malvina Hoffman as she broke every glass ceiling in the early 20th century, studied with Auguste Rodin, and collaborated in business with the great ballerina Anna Pavlova, a close friend. She was awarded the largest commission in the history of bronze art and earned a front-page obituary in The New York Times when she died in 1966.
John Huey is former editor-in-chief of Time Inc., a position in which he was responsible for all of the company’s digital, print and video content, including the magazines Time, People, Sports Illustrated, Essence, and Southern Living. He now contributes to both Southern Living and Garden & Gun, for which he produces a popular podcast called Whole Hog. He and his wife Kate reside Charleston, SC and the mountains of North Carolina.
Billy Jones is Chef de Cuisine at Cochon in New Orleans, LA, the James Beard Award-winning restaurant that is part of the Link Restaurant Group. He was also the 2016 winner of the Delta Hot Tamale Festival in the Celebrity Chef category.
Donald Link is the Executive Chef and Chief Executive Officer of the Link Restaurant Group, which includes Herbsaint, Cochon, Cochon Butcher, Peche, and La Boulangerie. He has won multiple James Beard Awards, including Best Chef in the South, and his first cookbook Real Cajun won for Best Cookbook. He and partner Stephen Stryjewski founded the Link Stryjewski Foundation to help nourish and educate at risk youth in New Orleans. In 2015, Link published his second cookbook, Down South: Bourbon, Pork, Gulf Shrimp & Second Helpings of Everything.
Beverly Lowry was born in Memphis and grew up in Greenville, Mississippi. She is the author of six novels, including Daddy’s Girl and The Track of Real Desires, and four nonfiction books, including Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life. Her latest book, Who Killed These Girls: The Unsolved Murders That Rocked a Texas Town was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2016. She lives in Austin, Texas
Julia Reed, a native Greenvillian, is a columnist for Garden & Gun. She is the author of six books including Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena, But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria, and Julia Reed’s South, Spirited Entertaining and High Style Fun All Year Round. Her latest book South Toward Home, Adventures and Misadventures in my Native Land was published by St. Martin’s in July 2018.
Dr. Alphonso Sanders is the Chair of Fine Arts and Director of the BB King Recording Studio at Mississippi Valley State University. He received degrees in music from Mississippi Valley State University, Valdosta State University, and the University of Mississippi. Dr. Sanders has performed at festivals ranging from the Netherlands North Sea Jazz Festival and the Montreux Switzerland Jazz Festival to many of the Delta Blues Festivals. Artists with whom he has played include Cassandra Wilson, Bobby Rush, The Four Tops, and David “Honey Boy” Edwards. As a Fulbright Scholar, he studied abroad in China exploring Chinese music and visual arts. He is the recipient of the 2010 MAC Folk Arts Fellowship and the 2011 Mississippi Humanities Award and was selected by the Delta Blues Society as the 2013 Blues Musician of the Year. His noted recording projects are “Mississippi Influences” and “Twice as Nice.” He is the founder and host of First Thursday’s Jazz/Blues Night at the BB King Museum in Indianola, MS and serves as host of BB King Day, preserving the legacy of the blues.
Kim Sunée was born in South Korea, adopted, and raised in New Orleans. She is the author of the national bestseller, Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home, which has been translated into Korean, Chinese, and Hebrew, and A Mouthful of Stars. Her most recent book, Everyday Korean: Fresh, Modern Recipes for Home Cooks was written with Seung Hee Lee and published in the fall of 2017. Sunée ate and lived in Europe–mostly in France–for ten years before working as a food editor at Southern Living magazine and Cottage Living magazine. She has appeared as a guest judge on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America and has collaborated on several cookbooks, including The Tuscan Sun Cookbook by Frances and Ed Mayes, and the Tupelo Honey Cafe by Elizabeth Sims and Chef Brian Sonoskus. She lives in Anchorage, Alaska and is a food columnist for the Alaska Dispatch.
Libby Rae Watson, a native of Pascagoula, MS, began playing music as a young child, when she discovered a Country Blues songbook that sparked her interest in the blues. While in college, she made road trips to the Mississippi Delta in search of master blues players who were still living. In 1978, she helped coordinate the talent for the first annual Delta Blues Festival in Greenville, bringing in such legends as Big Joe Williams, Son Thomas, Eugene Powell, Furry Lewis, and Sam Chatmon. She became close friends with Chatmon, the surviving Mississippi Sheik, who mentored her. During the 1990s, she produced two CDs of original music with her band The Liberaetors. She has played at countless festivals including the King Biscuit Festival, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and the Sam Chatmon Festival. She continues to tour as a solo and group performer.
Malcolm White, a native of Stone County, Mississippi, is the executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, a position he previously held from 2005 to 2012, after which he became director of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division. While leading the Tourism Division, White developed and implemented plans to create economic growth and opportunities through tourism and the creative economy and promoted the state as a travel destination and film location. Prior to his tenure at MAC, he worked in the hospitality industry, running the hugely popular restaurant Hal and Mal’s, and founding special events and festivals throughout the state. White has been a member of and served on the committees of numerous civic organizations. He is involved with South Arts, the Mississippi Blues and Country Music Trails, and Downtown Jackson Partners, and is past chairman of the Mississippi Blues Commission. In 2015, he published Little Stories: A Collection of Mississippi Photos. His most recent book is The Artful Evolution of Hal & Mal’s, an illustrated reminiscence of the restaurant’s history and characters published in spring 2018.
Rebecca Wilcomb is the chef de cuisine at Herbsaint restaurant in New Orleans and the 2016 James Beard Award Winner for Best Chef South. She was also the 2015 winner of the Delta Hot Tamale Festival in the Celebrity Chef category. In spring 2019, in partnership with the Link Restaurant Group, she will open an Italian restaurant called Gianna in the Warehouse District.
Be sure and check back in on the line-up as we will be adding more exciting participants in the coming weeks!