Written by Sherry Lucas
The commercial kitchen of Feast Specialty Foods hums with efficiency and woos with the scent of fresh ginger as senior prep chef Susie Marshall takes a spoon to the root and peels it for grating.
The ginger is destined to perk up brown rice that’ll share the plate with seared salmon in one of the entrees on the week’s menu. Prep and cooking (save a no-fuss finish in home kitchens) are handled in this expansive kitchen in The Hatch in Midtown. Metro-area customers will get dinner-for-two entrees, salads and soups packaged and delivered mid-week.
The Jackson business run by chef Camille Peeples and her husband, Rob, has been in The Hatch, one of two creative business incubators in Midtown, since May 2016. “What a wonderful opportunity,” Camille describes a home base that beats her previous location at the Jackson Enterprise Center. The Hatch spot doubled their space with room for growth, plus provided a neighborhood support system in Midtown Partners and Millsaps College’s ELSEWorks program.
Growth has included an expanded menu with more fresh foods, the addition of another prep chef, Eric Taylor (Marshall’s grandson), and a full-time sous chef, Nick Couch, to the staff. Feast has also taken on the private chef duties for California-based Mission Nutrition’s local clients. And, it will be providing breakfast tacos — a morning staple from their previous life in Houston, Texas — for Coffee Prose, the coffee drive-thru/used book store recently opened across from Millsaps College.
“The core has not changed — it’s local, it’s authentic, it’s delicious and it’s delivered,” Rob says. “It’s in this whole crazy space of dinner delivery…. We’re trying to be the one that’s right here down the street, not shipping from California.”
“This whole idea of getting food to your front step — we’re trying to still be the one that does it with the owners delivering it. It’s a personal touch,” Rob says.
Lasagna and gumbo are among popular frozen picks; on the fresh end, smoked salmon salad and chicken pot pie are seasonal favorites, and folks recently went crazy over a new chicken and mushroom dish.
“I want to keep it fresh, keep it interesting,” Camille says of introducing new items to the rotation. Different cuts of meat, international street food flavors, perhaps even frozen pizza may be ahead. Meals are sourced from whole foods — nothing processed. “With the exception of cheese,” Rob says, “because we don’t own any cows.”
Marshall, with Feast since its 2015 start in Jackson, lives in Fondren and is Jackson chef Nick Wallace’s mom. Her work with Feast opened her eyes (and kitchen) to different foods. She always happily ate son Nick’s creations; “I didn’t worry about what he had in it.” Here, elbow deep in the prep, she knows the flavors on the front end. “It’s a different style of cooking,” says Marshall, a “strictly country” cook at home.
“I have been introduced to things I thought I’d never, never put in my mouth.” Hummus, for instance. Cumin. Cilantro, which she now loves. New horizons. “Hers and mine, too,” says Taylor. “I still need to dig in some more.”
Fitting, for a place called Feast.
The bulk of Feast customers live and/or work in downtown Jackson, Belhaven, Fondren and northeast Jackson. The delivery area is from downtown Jackson to Ridgeland/Madison. More: feast-sf.com