AM: Second one – your friend just moved out of her home office and her business has its first space and you want to bring her her first lunch – what can we bring?
EH: Mmmm ok so if you’re traveling with anything, you want to make sure that it’s easy and portable. I love Chinese To Go containers. I think that they are the most adorable things in the entire world. So I would have the most beautiful marinated vegetables and put that in and then I love salad.
So we have the marinated veggies in the to-go containers because packaging is fun and it makes it. Do another to-go container lined with Bibb lettuce and put your chicken salad in there and tie it up with some crackers and bread and then have some finger pimento cheese sandwiches. Honey, that is the most delightful lunch ever! But then put it in a great basket and take it to her and then she has something to remember the lunch by and the food is always going to be fantastic, but then you want to take it to the next level and consider what it looks like, how portable it is and what is the impression that you’re going to make when you give it to somebody. If you threw that into an old to-go container, yes it’s going to taste great but is it going to be spectacular? You want to put an exclamation point at the end of that lunch, not a period.
AM: And finally a tailgating -
EH: Oh shut up – you don’t know nothin' about no tailgating! I mean …. That’s all we do down in Oxford, Mississippi and right now we’re in the throws of it with LSU being home this weekend. Our tailgating is very different than most. Because we put a lot of effort into it but there are things that you have to remember. Number 1 – it’s weather dependent, you want to make sure that if it’s boiling hot you don’t want to do a bunch of mayonnaise and shrimp – things that go bad. Because people are drinking so much and talking so much (much like the Girl’s Night In), you want to make sure that things are already assembled like the hangover slider and you can pop it in your mouth. You don’t want to have to set your drink down to fix something. You want to be able to hold onto that drink and pick it up whether it’s chicken tenders – fried chicken all day. Same thing with wonderful roast beef sandwiches with bleu cheese. I have a wrap that’s a flank stank wrap that I love that has carmelized onions and bleu cheese and it’s easy to pick up and put in your mouth.
This is not the time for crudité or no damn marinated vegetables – we are all in on this tailgate. And a lot of pick up sweets like cookies that have you theme on them, tent name or greek name. That’s a ton of fun!
It’s so easy to pull in the car right there, unload everything, set it up, cars go out and then the cars come back in to load it up at the end of the night. So we do it up! There are a ton of tents that have chandeliers and candleabras – we’re talking tablecloths, overlays and everything. You have to come – you’d die and everyone is dressed up, I’m talking cocktail dresses. Huge flower arrangements although many times I do my own but last weekend, I didn’t have time.
When I started tailgating, that’s when I realized I’m competitive. My tent, I'm going to know that I won because when I walk by every other tent, I can tell you that it was me. I mean we kill it every single time. We’ve made gameday twice!
AM: For the holidays, what are things that people should have on hand in terms of gifts to give delivery men?
EH: Delivery men, I give them beers – just kidding but I do give it our trash guys and put a bow on it, they love it! You want something that is easy and portable and that they can snack on when they are driving around. I love Rosemary Cashews which is one of the recipes in the book and Fried Walnuts will make you swoon. Put them in a great bag and tie them with a festive ribbon and they can take them home and serve them to their friends.
AM: So what’s a typical holiday dinner like at your home?
EH: I was raised that my Great Grandmother, my Grandmother and my mother all had beautiful beautiful holiday dinners – they’re always perfect. They were PERFECT. The thing that is difficult for me is that my house is where everyone comes and I wouldn’t have it any other way – I love it more then anything. But with the catering company by that point, I’m a little exhausted. But still, it’s 25 people for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter – whatever the holiday is and everyone comes over.
I am really funny, I don’t usually let people bring things to my Thanksgiving or Christmas because I want them to enjoy themselves and it’s how I can give back to them and … I don’t trust them! There are some people in your life that you can’t entrust them with key parts of your dinner, there are some people that just need to bring the rolls an the wine - or just the vodka!
AM: What charities do you support?
EH: St. Jude – We have the Taste of St. Jude which is an unbelievable event in Oxford, Mississippi and I have been on the board for about 5 years. We raised over $237,000 last year – this is in Oxford! We get things donated like trips and I do a lot of the culinary packages. We auctioned off a dinner for 40 people on the 50 yard line in the stadium the night before the LSU game.
We will be in the stadium, we bring in a Celebrity Chef Ryan Trimm is going to be cooking. Literally, they will sit on the field and have dinner with the stadium lights on – nobody is in there but them. That went for $10,000 this year.
We do a Pig, Pizza and Produce event. We have a great chef in town that does barbecue with amazing pigs and then we have an amazing wood fire pizza place that brought their ovens out and I did all the produce. We auctioned that off for $8,000.
I auctioned off a VIP tour to the Today Show. So there are tons of trips and events and our team is second to none.
Ronald McDonald House, St. Jude, the LeBonner House, Young Life, Doors for Hope – there are so many. It’s weekly that we’re doing something because I honestly feel that I have been given so much and blessed beyond that God will give back.
One year, my husband figured out how much we as a company had given out in time and money and he said, “we can’t afford this” and I said, “we can’t afford not to do this.” God will give it back to me a million times over. It doesn’t matter what it is but the moment that I feel that I don’t have enough to give to someone that is in need, that’s the minute that I will not have enough to give. That’s how I believe. We give a ton and we get a ton!
Read more of the Oct Issue and see What Can I Bring? in mag.