Kraft on Craft:

"Mash-ups" with a Southern accent—Chef Bowen Ricketts does it right

Biscuits, fried chicken, popovers, grits: What's not to love about Southern food? This homey cuisine is taking centre stage on mainstream menus, with show-stopping "mash-ups" of traditional dishes updated with well-placed global accents.

No one expresses this trend better than Taylor Bowen Ricketts, chef-owner of Delta Bistro in Greenwood, Mississippi. With a motto of "homegrown food, better than yo mama's," this eclectic eatery delivers classic Cajun and Creole recipes influenced by flavours from all over the world. From a banh-mi-meets-po'-boy of fried oysters, country ham, radish and mint to a saffron-scented angel hair pasta with crawfish and edible flowers, the delicious mash-ups at Delta Bistro help explain the rising popularity of Southern comfort with a global spin.

"More than 60% of consumers say they enjoy dishes that feature a fusion of flavours from more than one type of cuisine."
—2013 Technomic Canadian Flavour Consumer Trend Report

Chris Doepner
Operation Stats
  • 78 seats
  • 30 X 30-ft. kitchen
  • 50% higher sales since Bowen Ricketts took over in 2005
The Kraft Challenge

We asked Chef Bowen Ricketts to create a Southern-inspired dish with universal appeal. She came back to us with so many fantastic ideas, we couldn't pick just one. After much deliberation, we settled on two: Dijon Grilled Chicken & Pimento Cheese Quesadillas and Bourbon & Cola Chicken Sliders.

Dijon Grilled Chicken & Pimento Cheese Quesadillas

Perfect as a sharable appetizer, bar snack or entrée, Bowen Ricketts' recipe adds Southern flair to a menu standard. She first creates a white barbecue-like marinade with Dijon mustard, Kraft Mayo Calorie-Wise Real Mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, garlic and seasoning.

Next comes a twist on a true Southern staple. Bowen Ricketts' homemade pimento cheese features a special secret ingredient: Velveeta Loaf. "The Velveeta Pimento adds this amazing creaminess to the quesadilla," she says. "It takes it to a whole other level."

Caviar of the South

Pimento cheese traces its roots to fun party food. "It says 'community' down here," says Bowen Ricketts. "Everyone loves it." At Delta Bistro, you'll find this must-have spread baked into hashbrowns, stuffed in poblanos and stirred into cornbread batter.

For her Kraft challenge, Bowen Ricketts created a flavourful version with Velveeta Loaf.

"The texture of Velveeta is really smooth. It's customer-friendly because of its wonderful consistency and mild flavour," she says.


Delta Bistro Velveeta Pimento Cheese

Combine all ingredients. Makes about 2 cups.

Bourbon & Cola Chicken Sliders

Bourbon & Cola Chicken Sliders

For her second dish, Bowen Ricketts used Kraft products to up the flavour ante of a signature Delta Bistro menu item. Her sliders start with chicken breast, bathed in bourbon and cola, then battered, fried and layered on a buttered sweet roll with fried celery leaf. It's not easy to improve on a masterpiece but she did, switching out the butter for a spread of Kraft Mayo Calorie-Wise Real Mayonnaise with fried garlic chips, green onion, pimento and hot sauce. The result? Pure deliciousness.

Kraft Mayo
Chris Doepner

If you were sent to a desert island, what three ingredients would you take with you?

Chris Doepner

Fresh garlic, a live chicken and a dairy cow.


What's the biggest seller on your menu?

Chris Doepner

They're all good sellers—if it's on the regular menu, it's selling well.


What dish carries the best profit margin?

Chris Doepner

I have two: Fried Green Tomatoes with Comeback Sauce and the Black-Eyed Pea Cakes with Rémoulade.


What's your favourite Kraft product?

Chris Doepner

>Give me a Sunday afternoon with a bowl of Velveeta Famous Queso Dip. I add ground sausage sometimes. It's great with cheap beer and any kind of sporting event on TV.

For the Love of Chicken - Check out our tips and rule-the-roost recipes to keep this key menu item fresh and exciting.
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