TUPELO – When the Junior Auxiliary decided on a blues theme for the 53rd Annual Charity Ball, Southern-style food was a natural fit for the menu.
And what better restaurants could provide that meal than South and BBQ by Jim?
“I knew Jim would be doing his smoked pork loin again so I was going with things that would go good with pork – food for the soul,” said Nick Rice, executive chef at South. “I figured greens, grits, candied yams and tomato pie.”
“The Blues: Where the Heart Meets the Soul,” is Friday at 7 p.m. at the BancorpSouth Arena. Tickets are $40 each and can be purchased at Reed’s department store, Staggs Interiors, at the door or by calling (662) 678-3876.
The Johnny Fears Jazz Band will perform during the Living Ads presentation and dinner, and then Memphis Soul Revue, a 10-piece band, will take the stage for the remainder of the evening.
“Ever since the Charity Ball has been at the BancorpSouth Arena, I’ve been filling in with the cooking,” said Jim Beane of BBQ by Jim. “The first year, they were cooking with small pots and I said, ‘Look, y’all aren’t going to get this done today with those,’ so I went and got my big pots. Ever since, I’ve been helping, learning and giving back to the community. I’ve been able to learn so much from the different chefs.”
Rice said he plans to do the majority of the night’s cooking at the BancorpSouth Arena, with help from about a dozen JA members on the food committee who will be busy cutting up tomatoes and onions, grating cheese and peeling sweet potatoes.
“The candied yams is my mom’s recipe,” Rice said. “The grits is mine. The tomato pie is Hamp’s mom’s – he won’t part with that. And the greens recipe was here when I got here.”
Hamp Hughes and his wife, Blair, own South.
In addition to the pork and side dishes, Friday’s menu will include jalapeño cornbread, yeast rolls and iced tea, along with an assortment of desserts from Sweet Treats by Margarete, Rosie’s, Crave and Margarete’s Fine Chocolates. In addition, Dianne Craig will make pralines and Tami Young will prepare pecan bars. There will also be complimentary Starbucks coffee.
“We’re planning for a little over 500 people,” said Amy Scoville, food chairman. “The food will be set up in the back. Last year, we did buffet-style and it will be that way again.”
Attire for the evening is semi-formal to formal.
“Not everybody wears tuxedoes,” Scoville said. “A lot of men wear coats and ties. Women wear short dresses and some wear long dresses. Anything goes.”
Amanda Michael, Charity Ball chairman, said the event is the Junior Auxiliary’s only fundraiser. Money raised goes toward nine programs which largely benefit disadvantaged school-age children in Tupelo and Lee County: Clothes Closet, Silent Servings, SHINE, School Aid, Drama Queens, WAVE, Class Crowns, CPR/AED training and college scholarships.