Chef Cheri Hiers might have the best chef’s job around.
Recently in this space we have explored professional chefs working in restaurant environments, home cooks turned pro chefs, and restaurant chefs turned home cooks — all of which are demanding and challenging jobs.
But what about a chef who spends her time in one of the only professionally designed cooking kitchens in the state and doesn’t have to depend on the nightly supper crowd to stay open?
The Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs touts an art gallery, history museum, live performances and a host of other community services, but the Culinary Café, recently renamed Becky’s Kitchen, presents some of the most interesting culinary programs on the Coast.
Hiers runs the specialty kitchen and is in charge of the Lunch and Learn program and the other cooking classes the Mary C. offers.
Becky’s Kitchen was named in honor of Rebecca Adams Feder, a guest chef at the Mary C. who died in October 2015.
The kitchen is unique in many ways. It is designed as a teaching kitchen, so the counter top that holds grills and gas cooktops looks out over a room that can hold a few more than 20 students.
All the equipment is Mississippi-made Viking, a Greenwood corporation that is considered by many to be some of the most sought-after professional cooking equipment available.
The kitchen also is equipped with sauté pans, sauce pots, hotel pans, braising pans and just about anything else a chef or cook might need. If you are a foodie, you will fall in love with this place.
Lunch and Learn
Lunch and Learn classes are on Thursdays and Fridays and are facilitated by Hiers or another Coast chef.
Guest chefs and menus vary so check with the Mary C. for specific information. Lunch and Learn is an hour-long class that provides hands-on cooking experience, you not only get to watch a professional chef at work, you also get to ask questions and wield that chef’s knife as well.
When the cooking demo is over, it’s time for lunch.
Other cooking classes, most often held in the evening, vary by season. The October schedule includes Foraging with the Pascagoula River Audubon Center and Everything Chocolate, a Willy Wonka-inspired dinner.
Past classes have included demos by Kristian Wade, executive chef at Beau Rivage Resort and Casino; Malcolm White, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission; James Balster, executive sous chef at the Beau; chef Alex Perry of Vestige in Ocean Springs; cookbook author Susan Puckett; chef Joe Friel, who once cooked at 21 in New York, one of the most well-known restaurants in the world; and home cooks and enthusiasts.
Pay a visit
Becky’s Kitchen is certainly worth a visit for foodies or for the person who has that long-held dream of cooking in a professional kitchen.
Book a party, private cooking class or join one of the Lunch and Learn classes or other special events.
Mary C. O’Keefe Center
1600 Government St., Ocean Springs
Call 228-818-2878 for information and reservations