Ms. Audrey’s Southern Kitchen is the sort of place that food writers dream about. Not only is the food outrageously good, and true to local and Southern traditions, but owner Chef Audrey has a profound and abiding passion for her culinary roots, and carries a deep concern for the youth of her community who are in need of a helping hand. How could you ask for more?
The farm-to-table and eat local movements have reawakened our awareness that if you want to eat well, you should be eating what is raised and grown locally. Over the past several hundred years the way we prepared those ingredients has been refined, so that our cooking traditions have achieved an international respectability. Southern food is good, really good. This is exactly what is going on at Ms. Audrey’s — local foods, prepared in traditional ways.
Chef Audrey has been cooking for more than 30 years, and made a successful passage of the corporate world. Her dream, now realized, was to open a restaurant that features good things to eat that she learned from her mother’s kitchen in Natchez.
Ms. Audrey recently opened a buffet in a new space on Mills Avenue in Gulfport’s Gaston Point community. Look for the blue door. There are a few things you can order a la carte, but the buffet is the heart of this restaurant. Please do not think of one of those big buffets where industrial-sized cans of veggies are poured into food pans and served lukewarm, with little thought for seasoning. Chef Audrey prepares everything from scratch and shops as local as she can.
On the day of my visit, there were more than two dozen choices on the buffet, plus salads and stunningly good desserts. I had baked chicken that was succulent and delicious, cornbread stuffing and gravy, lima beans as fresh as they can be served and collards (which come from a local farm) that brought a tear to my eyes. If you think of all the Southern classics, like rice and gravy, mac and cheese, white beans, potato salad, then you are imagining Chef Audrey’s buffet. You are going to want to try everything on this buffet.
If you follow my culinary meanderings at all, you might know that I am not a huge sweets fan. Sweets are just fine, but I had rather have another piece of fried chicken, but Chef Audrey just may have changed my ways. I had to get my meal to-go (being a freelance writer has its downsides), but about halfway back to the office I decided to have just one bite of that made-from-scratch peach cobbler Chef Audrey made. Needless to say, the cobbler did not survive the trip home. Fresh sliced peaches, sweet and cinnamon-ly gooey goodness and a crazy good crust. Simply beyond words.
Combine really good Southern food, a passionate chef, and a staff that includes kids who have had a rough start, but are trying to get things right, and you have a restaurant that is worth the drive from anywhere on the Coast. Tell Chef Audrey I said hey.
Ms. Audrey’s Southern Kitchen
Where: 1526 Mills Ave., Gulfport
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday; closed Saturday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday