Ella Kizzie gives new meaning to the term “fast food” — the chef’s fare is so good, you’ll want to fast for a day before you imbibe so you won’t get full too quickly. Kizzie’s hot-water cornbread, greens, lemon-baked chicken, mac-and-cheese, coleslaw, and, especially, peach cobbler are good enough to all-you-can eat.
This weekend, Kizzie’s food art will be at the fore at the venue where she’s made her name: the Center for Southern Folklore’s Memphis Music & Heritage Festival. Kizzie will be demonstrating her method of making her (delicious) hot-water cornbread on Saturday at 6 p.m. and her (seriously, shank-a-neighbor-worthy) peach cobbler on Sunday at 7 p.m.
“Ella taught us how to cook,” says Judy Peiser, executive director of the Center for Southern Folklore, who has known Kizzie for more than two decades. Kizzie, who grew up in Hughes, Arkansas, will be telling stories about her childhood and a life spent cooking, during her festival demonstrations. “You can tell she came from a creative family because she can take nothing and make it something,” Peiser says.
At the festival, attendees can have it all: Kizzie’s dishes will be served buffet-style at Miss Ella’s Café. But why stop there? That’s just one part of a literal feast at the festival. Demonstrations will cover how to make Chinese fried rice, French press and iced coffee, hanger steak, brown butter peaches, sushi rolls, guacamole and tortillas, fried pies, Choctaw fry bread, Mu Shu chicken, Hmong delicacies, Challah bread, Swahili chai and Mahamri, and working with pecan oil. Leslie Berkelhammer will make piecrusts while singing The Star-Spangled Banner.
You know, your typical flabbergastingly great Southern food experience that can be had every year at the Memphis Music & Heritage Festival. — Greg Akers