As a child, I loved being in the kitchen. It was my safe space and my favorite part of my home. Seriously. I vividly remember sitting on the counter baking cookies or cooking dinner with my mom. We'd make the best brownies, double dark chocolate fudge of course, and she would always let me lick the spoon. My grandmother was the same way. There were many days and nights spent sitting on the counter absorbing every little thing they did. Teacakes and biscuits. Jams and jellies and home canned vegetables. Lots of love and even more laughs! Even my aunt and her seven sisters would allow me to join them every year right before Christmas. Let me tell you-their baking endeavors were a massive one day affair! They would all gather at her house to make candy. Divinity. Martha Washington Balls. Oreo Balls. Bark Candy. Nuts and Bolts. It was my favorite part about Christmas. Years passed and I still loved being in the kitchen. It was in those places where love was abundant, that my love for the kitchen began. Cooking was love-cooking was the heart of the home. We cook when we are happy and we cook when we are sad. The years passed and I was now old enough to go to the grocery store, make dinner, and clean up afterwards all before seven o'clock when Grey's Anatomy came on. Oh, how it made me feel all grown and happy! I worked as a cashier at the local Piggly Wiggly and spent most of my money on grocery items so I could experiment! Of course I drove the family crazy when I prepared things they couldn’t pronounce. I loved cooking but didn't think doing it for the rest of my life was an option. I'd always loved to write so when choosing colleges, I looked for one who would help me pursue Journalism. I chose East Mississippi Community College. I was there for two weeks before I received the news that shook me to the core. Nuna, my precious grandmother, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the next few years I alternated between living at home or on campus-whichever place my family needed me to be at the time. I changed majors a couple of times and just couldn't find my place. I was currently studying child psychology, I was a Resident Advisor, an Ambassador, and a member of SGA. I had friends and was doing great in school....until I wasn't. To say I struggled in my Child Psychology class would be a HUGE understatement. I came home for Christmas and saw my grades. I'd failed my final exam. I'd have to take the class over. I was crushed. What did I do? I turned to the kitchen. Mama found me when she got home sitting in the floor- flour in my hair crying hysterically. I felt like such a failure. She
looked me straight in the eyes and said as serious as she could, "what do YOU want to do for the rest of your life?" "What makes YOU happy, Taylor?" I promptly replied, very snotty and shakily as I recall, "I just want to cook-the kitchen is the only place I'm happy." And there it was. I started culinary school the next semester. I continued on at EMCC but changed campuses. In the summer, I transferred to Mississippi University for Women and started my lifelong dream (even though I didn't know it before then) of becoming a chef. I loved it. I made friends. I got a job in the culinary department and fell in love with a sisterhood that I owe a chunk of my life to. Those girls got me through. My culinary friends. If you only knew how thankful I was for you standing guard while I had a moment in the walk in. How many times you saved me by grabbing band aids when I'd cut my finger, again. How many times you made sure I had limes for my tea and a hug when Finals Dinner was getting the best of me. Then, Nuna was sick, again. She went in for a risky surgery and we almost lost her. I left the W again to care for Nuna full time. Round the clock care for her, making sure Pop and the boys were fed, making sure mama was sane, and keeping up a household the best mama and I could. Family was important-family is still important. I'd dropped out of school but got an unexpected phone call. Casey Waller (High), sister it's because of you I'm able to sit here and write this. Casey called and I congratulated her on her recent engagement. She then rocked my world. She wanted me to cater her wedding. ME? CATER A WEDDING? I'd done some brownies for a friend’s wedding the year before but didn't think much of it. It was just a favor. How on Earth was I supposed to pull this off? "Well I want BBQ Nachos, I know that much." She said. Let me assure you though, it was so much more. There were BBQ sliders, a nacho bar, baked brie, Mississippi caviar, assorted breads, cheeses, and cured meats. It was beautiful. The wedding and event went off without a hitch. I was tired. No, I was EXHAUSTED. But I was so thankful and happy. My family and friends came through and supported me. So, it began! We did weddings and events for family and friends from 25 to 300!! This hobby was quickly turning into a lifetime of fast paced happy (and a bit stressful) events. Fast forward again. I was working as a cook and was not happy. I wanted a place of my own. I tried buying a building to start my own restaurant but taking out a loan that big at my age absolutely terrified me. Talk about a panic attack. WHAT. WAIT. I'm only 24! We were planning and filling out loan paperwork when I stopped and looked Mama dead in the eye and said, "I can't do this yet." So, we stopped. I wasn't happy here though. Before I made this lifetime commitment I needed to go and do and explore. I flipped a coin. New York or Florida. Florida won. That night I was online applying for every job I could. I got one. I spent this past summer in Sandestin, working for a new restaurant. I was actually hired as a pastry chef. I learned so much from a lot of talented people. For that, I'm so very grateful. I missed home though. I swore I wouldn't, but I did. Despite my friends who'd become family there, I knew I needed to come back home. Here we are now. Full circle as I type this sitting at my kitchen table while I think of what has to be done for us to open because it's finally time for me to do this. Head first in the deep end with no floaties. This is what I was made to do. I'm finally happier than I have ever been. Right smack dab in the middle of Calhoun County.
Now that I've let you get to know me, let's get down to the menu. While in Florida I was spoiled on fresh, local seafood. I want to bring this concept to Blue South. While I am not able to get straight from the gulf seafood a hour after it was caught, I do want to get ingredients delivered as fresh as possible. I have spoken with my friends at Brown Family Dairy in Oxford, MS and will be partnering with them to serve fresh dairy and meat. This is just one partner. I would like to get as many local farmers as possible partnered so I can provide fresh products to my guests. We will primarily be a coffee shop and bakery all day long but will provide gourmet soups, salads, and sandwiches during lunch. We will also serve blue plate specials. These are not your normal specials though. We will serve specialty blue plates that come straight from our catering menu or off the top of my head. Some of the best dishes I have created over the years have been on a whim usually at midnight when I can't sleep. Some of these dishes include grit cakes with seasoned turnip greens and bacon cream sauce topped with pineapple shrimp, hot mustard chicken with roasted potatoes and broccoli, or a beef bourguignon over garlic roasted mashed potatoes. I would not only like to provide fresh products but as natural as possible as well. We plan on making our own secret housemade pickles, pickled onions, and pickled vegetables. House made pimento and cheese, chicken salad, clubs, ham and swiss, and turkey sandwiches will always be available to our not so adventurous group. For those willing to jump in the deep end can try our Thai wrap (roasted chicken, cucumber, carrot, romaine, Sriracha mayo and peanut sauce), our Rosie (thick ham, swiss, lettuce, tomato, and rosemary mayo), or our Alamo (turkey, bacon, avocado, swiss, lettuce, tomato, and chile mayo). You could try one of our 17+ rotating soups like the french onion, poor man pot-licker, or the corn and crab bisque. We will have fresh pastries and desserts made daily for those wanting to end their meal with something sweet. To those who have no time to cook we will have frozen casseroles prepared with love to be picked up at your convince. We plan on expanding this area as time progresses.
Risks and challenges
Let's be real. I'm 25. Most people are not willing to take a risk on someone my age. It's going to be tough. There will be nights where I go to my office to lay my head on my desk to take a nap because I know I have 60 people coming in the next day. I don't have time to go home. I've done this all before. I am determined that this business will be a success. I'm home with the best support system a girl could ask for.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (14 days)