Thursday, January 6, 2011


A new year means a new legislative session, and Mississippi tourism is taking center stage as state legislators continue to hear the message of tourism’s tremendous impact and benefits for the state.

During an annual legislative luncheon hosted this week by the Mississippi Tourism Association, the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division unveiled its new branding platform, including a new logo, new advertising campaign and completely revamped website to be launched in the coming weeks. The tagline – “Find Your True South” – is the centerpiece of the new brand.

In a presentation by Mary Beth Wilkerson, MDA Tourism director, legislators were reminded that tourism in Mississippi is a $5.5 billion business and that more than 19 million visitors traveled to the state last fiscal year. The industry also generated more than 78,000 jobs and is the fifth largest private-sector employer in the state.

MDA Tourism Director Mary Beth Wilkerson

Wilkerson with Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and MTA Board Members

The new brand draws on Mississippi’s reputation as the most southern state in the nation and the mother of southern culture. Whether in the area of music, literature, sports, food or gaming, Mississippi epitomizes the best of what’s southern.


January has been designated as Culinary Month in Mississippi. All month long communities around the state will be highlighting and celebrating notable restaurants, unique specialty items, take-home recipes and other local good eats. The state’s Welcome Centers will also join the action with displays, menus, samples and other information to help you satisfy your appetite while visiting the state.

No matter where you are in Mississippi, authentic restaurants are nearby. Whether you are sampling fresh seafood from famous local spots like Mary Mahoney’s in Biloxi, Cajun cooking at the Crescent City Grill in Hattiesburg, fine dining at Nick’s in Jackson, world-famous steaks at Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, real Southern barbeque at Little Dooey’s in Starkville or irresistible fried catfish at Taylor Grocery near Oxford, there’s something delicious here for every tastebud!

Surf and Turf, Mary Mahoney's in Biloxi

Chefs and Recipes
A Robert St. John cookbook
Mississippi is the proud birthplace or home of many past and present celebrities: actors, athletes, artists and, yes, chefs, too. Chef and humorist Robert St. John is not only a restaurant owner, he writes food columns and cookbooks that are quickly becoming some of the most popular gifts around.

Chef John Currence of Oxford was awarded the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s award for Best Chef South in 2009. Other notable Mississippi chefs include Cat Cora, the only female “Iron Chef” in that franchise’s history, and Martha Hall Foose, another popular chef and storyteller. These and other well-known chefs, along with lots of soon-to-be-famous ones, can be found all across Mississippi.

Cooking Products and Specialty Food Items
Mississippi is home to Viking Range Corporation. What started as a small operation is now a household name in cooking appliances, accessories and cooking schools. Based in Greenwood, Viking continues to grow and flourish with its headquarters and cooking school there, as well as a new cooking school in Ridgeland near the capital city of Jackson.

Jubilations Cheesecakes, based in Columbus, offers nearly endless flavors of cheesecakes that you can order online or over the phone. The Mississippi Cheese Straw Factory in Yazoo City is another favorite for holidays or anytime guests are gathered to celebrate any occasion, big or small.

Sweet treats, Jubilations Cheesecakes in Columbus

The Indianola Pecan House in the Delta celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with pecans fixed however you like them. And remember, that’s pronounced “puh-kan,” not “pee-kan.”
Pecan Pralines

To learn more and to view our online Culinary Trail with features an interactive map, go to