Release date: March 21, 2014
COLUMBUS – East Mississippi Community College’s Lion Hills served up five courses prepared by one of the best chefs in the country Thursday – thanks to a friendly connection.
Chef Chris Hastings, owner and executive chef of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, treated the Red Wing Garden Club of Columbus to five courses of fresh, seasonal dishes as a favor to family friend and EMCC Scooba Vice President Dr. Andrea Mayfield.
“Andrea and her husband George have been my dear friends for a long time. We’ve done fund-raisers at their home and she asked me if I’d be willing to come here tonight. And I told her I’d be more than happy. If it’s important to her, it’s important to me,” said Hastings.
And the timing couldn’t have been better as Lion Hills’s executive chef Liz Nickoles is currently in Russia doing instructional work in St. Petersburg. Hastings was asked to fill in during the Red Wing Garden Club’s annual Wine Pairing Dinner.
“It was a perfect fit because Chris is a nationally recognized chef with unbelievable credentials. The food was incredible and we couldn’t be happier to have him for an evening,” said Debby Gard, EMCC Vice President for the Lion Hills Center.
Hastings is the 2012 recipient of the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the South and the Robert Mondavi Culinary Award for Excellence. He has been featured on the Food Network’s program Iron Chef America, on which Hastings won a competition against celebrity chef Bobby Flay.
Hastings’ menu for the dinner was based on seasonal flavors with farm fresh ingredients produced in the South, all chosen to complement the Red Wings’ wine selections. The first course featured a fish gumbo with Conecuh sausage followed by a watercress salad with jumbo asparagus and country ham. The third course consisted of tuna on a bed of farro piccolo with carrot puree, black garlic, pea tendrils and vegetables a la grecque. The fourth course featured cuts of both pork loin and pork belly with sea island peas, collard greens and sorghum tabouli. Dessert was lemon custard over poached apples and rhubarb jam.
“What we try to do at my restaurant is reflect moments in time. So if it’s the 20th of March, we have one foot in spring and one foot in winter. So we do lighter things like the watercress then lean into fall vegetables like fennel potatoes and artichokes in the tuna dish,” said Hastings.
“Stylistically we want to reflect Southern ingredients in a way that’s unique, but recognizable. Flavors that punch you in the face with intensity and deliciousness.”
Chef Chris Hastings, owner and executive chef of
Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, with kitchen staff from Lion Hills.
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