How One Chef Serves Local Community
During the COVID 19 pandemic, local restaurants and businesses have taken a financial hit. Beth Broussard, owner and head Chef of J. Broussard’s Restaurant in Columbus, Miss. is one of those affected.
“It’s a struggle this last week. The first three weeks were really strong in terms of sales, better than we expected,” said Chef Broussard. “But that’s because we have a strong group of regulars who were actively trying to support us. I feel like it tapered down this last week and I hope it picks back up this week and next with Mother’s Day coming up.”
Chef Broussard has taken the next step by sharing her talents to the frontline workers.
“We were lucky enough to have a bunch of people in the community chip in some money to cover the food cost for feeding 250 hospital workers,” said Chef Broussard. “We delivered the food to the hospital on two different nights in an effort to cover as many staff members for each of the departments we fed, the CCU, 3rd floor, ER and the lab. “
J. Broussard’s is one of few local restaurants still doing curbside pickup in Columbus, Miss.
“It’s (COVID 19) taken the easiest source of income (liquor) away from us,” said Chef Broussard. “Most of our food simply isn’t at it’s best in a to go box, so we’ve changed what we are offering. And you can’t charge less for food in a to go box because really it costs you more to send it to go than to put it on a plate.”
J. Broussard’s has offered things from soup starter kits to assorted pastry boxes. Chef Broussard has been posting weekly menus on the restaurant Instagram account where people can order from.
As for future plans, Chef Broussard said it is very hard for her not to plan for future events.
“I’m a planner. Seriously, binder style Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation level planner and we’ve had to cancel all these things I’ve been planning for like six months,” said Chef Broussard.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Chef Broussard’s life has not changed much during quarantine because being a chef is not a very “social” job. She has realized that there are things we take for granted in day to day life.
“The two things I’ve come to value more from the grocery store. Chunky monkey ice cream and Bubly fizzy water,” said Chef Broussard.
Chef Broussard plans to continue curbside pickup for a little longer until things with COVID 19 settle.
A Personal Taste
During quarantine, I have felt finding things that I can control made me feel the most at peace when everything else felt like complete chaos.
For me, baking did just that. During a recession, I wanted to support local businesses but I also know that the future is unknown and saving is important.
So I chose the equally expensive hobby that is baking. I began with looking through cookbooks instead of searching the internet, with the exception of the internet famous Whipped Coffee. We have so many laying around my parents house.
This first cookbook I chose to use was The Grand Heritage. It is a cookbook from the 1980’s written by the women of Lowndes County in Mississippi. It is still a staple today and often given as a gift to new residents of Columbus.
The first item I baked was a sour cream coffee cake. It was decadent and delicious while only lasting a few hours in our house.
The most popular item I have baked during this time is Blueberry Pound Cake that is an old family recipe.
My grandfather planted 300 blueberry bushes when I was a kid. We always have frozen blueberries around so it is an easy go to dessert.
This pound cake is the perfect summer treat and is sure to win over the whole family.
For this recipe you will need one box of yellow cake mix, an 8 ounce block of cream cheese, one stick of butter or one half cup, a 3 to 5 ounce box of vanilla pudding, 3 eggs, one half cup of canola or vegetable oil and two cups of blueberries, fresh or frozen.
It is best to do this with softened cream cheese and butter. That way it is really creamy and mixes well. Then I like to use my Kitchenaid Standing Mixer with the paddle attachment to mix all the ingredients together, except for the blueberries.
After the ingredients are mixed together, it will be a thicker consistency than cake mix but should be a little less thick than cookie dough. Fold in your blueberries with a spatulat making sure not to squish them, this is especially important if using fresh blueberries
Put it in a greased and floured bundt pan. My favorite way to grease and flour in a pan is to put solid crisco on a paper towel and wipe it around the pan. Then you add about half to a whole cup, depending on your pan size, of flour and shake the pan around making sure to get it in every corner and section.
This keeps your pan from sticking to your cake and makes it easy to dump out.
You bake at 325 degrees for about an hour. It will be golden brown and if you stick a toothpick in it and it comes out clean and dry your cake is done!
Let it cool or eat it warm! I like to sprinkle powdered sugar on it or eat it with a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
This will for sure be a family favorite and an easy starter recipe if you are not a baker by nature.
If you would like to see more of what I have been cooking, check out my Quarantine Cookbook!