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Let’s Eat, Mississippi: The Blue Biscuit Feeds the Body and Soul

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune.

  • Regulars at The Blue Biscuit know that Saturday and Sunday nights mean live music, sometimes going well after midnight.

When Trish Berry got wind that a museum to honor B.B. King was going to be built in Indianola, so she turned to friends to help her think of ways she could do something to complement it. Her friends all told her to get in the kitchen and cook. 

Cooking is something Trish has done her whole life.

“I grew up in the kitchen,” she says. “I learned by standing alongside Addie Lewis in my family’s kitchen. Addie was our housekeeper, nanny, and friend, and she was a fabulous cook. She let me cook with her when she made wonderful cakes from scratch and much more. She also taught me how to make biscuits.”

Trish watched Julia Child and Justin Wilson on the Public Broadcasting System.

“I got Julia Child’s first cookbook, The French Chef Cookbook, and we cooked our way through it, giving the recipes a Mississippi twist.” 

She was so passionate about cooking that Trish attended culinary school at the Memphis Culinary Academy.

“I felt good that I already knew a lot of what they were teaching.”

After graduating, Trish focused on learning all she could about the restaurant business.

“We traveled a lot, and I managed to talk my way into the kitchens of many excellent restaurants.” 

When Morgan Freeman opened his fine dining restaurant, Madidi, in Clarksdale, Trish went to work for him.

“Lee Craven was the executive chef, and we were often called to cook for James Beard dinners. I had the opportunity to meet some great chefs, including Rick Tramonto and Susan Spicer. It was a wonderful time and I learned so much.”

Trish and her husband, Stan, moved to Indianola, where he works as a pharmacist.

“Stan is from Jackson, Tennessee and I’m from Vicksburg. We met while he was in pharmacy school at Ole Miss. He really wanted to work in a small-town pharmacy, so we visited a lot of small towns. When there was an opening in Indianola, he took it and we have loved living here.” 

The couple live on Main Street, and behind them, across the bayou, was an empty lot on Second Street.

“My Clarksdale friends came over and we talked about what I could do. Being from Vicksburg, I understood the impact tourism can have on a place. I also knew about entertaining.”

One of those friends was Harlon Malone, who started the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale.

“We found an old yellow house and had it moved down from Jonestown,” says Trish. “The idea was to serve plate lunches for people who came in on bus tours to see the B.B. King Museum. And that worked out fine for a while, then we made a mistake.” 

Trish says she decided to open the restaurant, which she called The Blue Biscuit (it sounds kind of casual and inviting, right?), on a weekend.

“I looked up and the place was packed. At that point, there was no turning back.” 

The Blue Biscuit has grown organically, “by the seat of my pants,” laughs Trish.

“I wouldn’t call it a business plan by any stretch – we just tried things to see how they might work.”

First, it was open only for lunch; then it opened in the evenings.

“We started with simple food, music, and we got our beer license. Soon we had people coming from all over the Delta.” 

Trish says her background isn’t in barbeque or fried catfish – in other words, visitors can expect something more at The Blue Biscuit. With starters like a fried green tomato and seafood tower and house made barbeque on nachos, it’s apparent that this is not typical bar food. Pasta, fresh seafood, and creative hamburgers leave space for the 72-hour pulled pork and yes, fried Delta catfish. 

The most amazing thing I’ve seen at The Blue Biscuit is the Monster Bloody Mary, brimming with a plethora of garnishes ranging from bacon, chicken strips, and shrimp to a hamburger slider, onion rings, pickled okra and olives. Needless to say, it’s practically a meal in itself! 

Sometimes Trish holds special dinners at The Blue Biscuit, which allow her to spread her culinary wings a bit and serve dishes that aren’t on the menu.

“People seem to love them. We always have great musical entertainment. It’s a real Delta thing – food, fellowship, and perhaps a cocktail or two.” 

Regulars at The Blue Biscuit know that Saturday and Sunday nights mean live music, sometimes going well after midnight.

“We sometimes have music on Sundays, too,” Trish says. 

As she talks about her love for Indianola, Trish reminds me that Craig Claiborne, a long time food editor and restaurant critic for The New York Times, as well as author of numerous cookbooks, was raised just a few blocks from the restaurant.

“There is a marker by the house where he grew up.” 

It wouldn’t surprise me if one day a marker is placed at The Blue Biscuit. 

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Read original article by clicking here.

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