Spring menus/ Event Space

Spring in Starkville is a wonderful thing. Few things we enjoy more than a full patio at Bin 612 people watching and enjoying the best weather of the year. At The Guest Room, Will Sanders and his crew have release our spring seasonal cocktail menu and those guys outdid themselves. Chef Ty Thames and John Fitzgerald continue to do amazing things in the Restaurant Tyler kitchen with a constantly changing menu. Spring is also bittersweet with a number of MSU students that will be graduating and moving on to do great things elsewhere. We wish you all the best of luck in the future and hope you will often come back to visit Starkville. bin

We are excited to announce that Restaurant Tyler will soon have an Event Space to host up to 130 seated for wedding rehearsal dinners, receptions, showers and other events where a private area is needed or preferred. Amanda Shafer Design, who blew us away with The Guest Room, has designed the space. We are really looking forward to being a premier event destination in Starkville.

Happy New Year!

After giving our employees a few days off for the holidays to be with their families, we are open and ready for an awesome 2015! What a year 2014 was for Starkvegas! An incredible season by our beloved Bulldogs put our town in the national spotlight (http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/11/29/sports/ncaafootball/mississippi-states-town-embraces-its-programs-prominence.html?referrer=) for an extended period of time and the people of Starkville responded by showing the country what southern hospitality was all about.

Personally, we were able to open The Guest Room tgr1, a craft cocktail speakeasy below Restaurant Tyler, and the support from the community has far exceeded our expectations! The project was in our minds for several years now and we owe a big thank you to interior designer Amanda Shafer ( 323-1628) for helping make it a reality. Kane Overstreet ( 323-8618) and Brandon Page worked long hours to get us ready for SEC season and did an excellent job with the construction.

The Guest Room kicked off with a September 24th fundraiser for the Mullen 36 Foundation that raised a little over $7,000 for the very worthwhile charity. Dan and Megan Mullen, Ty Thames, Kane Overstreet, Amanda Shafer, Brian KelleyWe have some more exciting changes coming to Eat Local Starkville in early spring 2015. We can’t wait to unveil those in the coming months. Stay tuned…

Exciting Changes!

securedownloadYou may have noticed our new sign downtown & heard through the grapevine that we are making some exciting changes at Eat Local Starkville. We have some things going on over the summer that we think y’all are really going to enjoy. One of those changes is this website, which is in the process of being updated. Please don’t rely on the menus currently displayed. If you need an updated menu prior to eating with us, please give us a call and we’d be happy to provide you with one. We appreciate the patience and will keep you updated!

Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey by John Currence

We are lucky enough to call City Grocery Chef John Currence a friend. John is a great ambassador for The State of Mississippi, as his culinary expertise has put our great state on the map as a food destination. Along the way, John has mentored many aspiring chefs and restaurateurs, making him a beloved figure within the industry.

Recently, John added “author” to his already lengthy resume, with his first cookbook, Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey http://citygroceryonline.com/sub.php?pickles_pigs_whiskey It truly is a phenomenal book and one I highly recommend you purchase. You can pick it up a Book Mart downtown or at any of our Eat Local Starkville restaurants along with the usual suspectsFC9781449428808. You won’t be disappointed.

Mississippi Fried Chicken

One of our favorite writers, John T. Edge, teamed up with one of our favorite magazines, Garden & Gun, to write about one of our favorite foods, fried chicken. What’s not to like about that?! We can’t wait to visit the recommended restaurants. Check it out here: Mississippi Fried Chicken | Garden and Gun http://gardenandgun.com/article/fork-road-tastes-home

Southern Cuisine Leading the Way

A good read by John T. Edge in the New York Times that is worth your time. We love the line “At a time when the rest of the nation looks to the South as a redoubt of provincial culinary traditions. . .” Enjoy http://nyti.ms/12ZBXE7 

Gluten

Food never ceases to amaze me. In some cases, it exists purely as sustenance. Other times it serves as the centerpiece for lavish displays of wealth and power. Whether prepared for the rich or poor, cuisines all over the world have bridged the gap between being simply food and an almost spiritual experience that ends up defining a culture to the rest of the world. I definitely grew up living a luckily charmed existence in that regard. Food has almost always been directly attached to my fondest memories of my childhood and even my young adult life. Many birthdays, for example, would probably have lost a bit of their luster without the inevitable pizza and ice cream at the party. This leads me to ponder what my life would be like if eating my favorite foods became impossible due to a physical condition of which I have no control. Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that constitutes the most common gluten sensitivity, puts many people in that very position on a day to day basis.
Cultivated grains, most notably wheat and barley, contain protein composites called gluten that cause serious problems for people with Celiac disease. Gluten consists of subsidiary proteins referred to as gliadin and glutenin that join together with starch to form the endosperm, or body of the grains. Gliadin specifically, causes an involuntary reaction that prohibits a person with Celiac disease from consuming any food containing it. Once inside the small intestine, gliadin reacts with enzymes already present. The resulting modified composite is then rejected by the person’s immune system, causing a severe inflammation of the walls of the small intestine. This process causes not only severe pain and discomfort, but yields him or her unable to properly absorb many of the nutrients from food vital to daily life. A person diagnosed with Celiac disease who consumes foods containing gluten will often experience severe pain and debilitating fatigue that can even force bed rest in some cases.
Avoiding gluten in everyday life can prove to be quite difficult since it is found in foods ranging from breads and pasta, to fried foods, even to pasta sauce and beer. The presence of barley in the brewing process is responsible for the gluten content in beer. In almost all other cases, however, gluten in foods can be traced directly back to flour. Most commonly produced from the grinding of wheat grains, flour is found in breads of every imaginable type. This means that pizza and sandwiches become off limits. Nearly all pastas are made from flour, so no spaghetti. Grandmother’s famous pies and cobblers have to go since they have crusts undoubtedly containing flour. Taco Bell….forget about it, they use flour tortillas. One of our most-ordered blue plates at the restaurant, the fried chicken with crawfish sauce, becomes prohibitive on two levels. The chicken is battered with flour before it is fried. The sauce is thickened with roux, which contains butter and…..you guessed it……flour. Caution should even be used at the grocery store when purchasing items seemingly unrelated to flour to ensure they have not been produced in close proximity to any gluten-containing products. Most companies certify and label completely safe products as “gluten-free.”
From a restaurant perspective, gluten allergies present a multifaceted challenge. Once presented with a gluten-free situation, the kitchen must ensure that nothing they prepare contains any substance that will produce any kind of reaction for the customer. This not only applies to the ingredients themselves, but also to the tools, utensils and surfaces used to prepare them. All knives, tongs, spoons and cutting boards must be sanitized prior to preparation to remove any trace gluten contamination. Before the kitchen can even begin, however, the most important step in the process of protecting a gluten allergy sufferer occurs in the front of house between the person and his or her server. Servers provide the only real link between the customer and the people preparing their food. Proper communication and education levels are necessary to prevent accidents from occurring. A server must not only be able to guide a customer with a gluten allergy to alternative choices based on the information they are given, but also to foresee other issues with foods the customer may not even be aware of.
Accidental ingestion of gluten-containing foods can not only be painful for allergy sufferers, but for the business as well. Increasingly, it is resulting in lawsuits against the restaurants involved. The latest statistics indicate that as many as one in one hundred and fifty people suffer from some sort of gluten sensitivity. This fact, combined with the prevalence of other food allergies out there, makes restaurants increasingly vulnerable. One honest mistake can threaten the livelihoods of both the restaurateur and the employees involved. Regardless of any other ramifications, however, the customer’s experience trumps all other considerations in importance. A bad taste in his or her mouth generally means no return visit, which in time will result in no restaurant at all.
As a chef, I feel that I carry the responsibility of being a good steward for food. It has always….I feel, clearly……been an incredibly positive part of my life. The more I learn and get to enjoy about the nuances of cuisine from around the world, the more I feel the responsibility to share them and educate people. Though gluten sensitivities serve as only one in a multitude of opportunities to help, each one can make a difference in someone’s life. Just as a doctor takes a sacred oath to use his knowledge of medicine safely to make people’s lives better, so too should a chef pledge to bring the love of food to people in a way worthy of their trust in its positivity.

Flour Power

Throughout my childhood, many fond memories came to life in my mother’s kitchen during early morning breakfasts, family dinners and impatient post-church lunchtime hunger rumblings. Our family lived in three different houses over the years, with kitchens of various size and color. The one constant I can recall is a set of three non-descript, rustically-decorated ceramic containers always containing sugar, yellow cornmeal and all purpose flour. Of these three basic ingredients, flour went particularly unnoticed on my part, aside from occasional batches of breakfast biscuits or cinnamon rolls. As I grow as a chef, however, I find myself reliant upon it on a daily basis. Flour seems almost paradoxical in that it serves as a very basic ingredient for so many everyday food items, yet is quite complex both in its composition and means of production.
Flour can be produced by grinding corn, potatoes, rice, various nuts, chickpeas, hemp, coconuts, and many other ingredients. In the United States, however, the most widely produced and consumed type of flour is produced by grinding the grain or fruit of the wheat plant. Consisting of endosperm, germ and bran, wheat grain can become different types of flour based on which of its components are included in the grinding process. The endosperm is the body of the seed and contains most of the starch and thusly protein that will be present in the flour. The germ is the embryo inside the seed which germinates to produce more wheat plants. While it too contains protein and many desirable nutrients, germ also contains polyunsaturated fats that cause flour to spoil quickly after production and is commonly removed during the grinding process for storage purposes. Bran forms the husk of the wheat seed and contains a majority of the fiber available from wheat flour. White flour, the most commonly available, requires the removal of the bran and germ to produce the required color and texture. Whole wheat flour contains the entire grain and is prized for its nutritional value, but not appropriate for many culinary applications of flour due its texture and high protein content.
The different types of white flour are categorized based on their protein or gluten content, which determines what they can be used to make. “Gluten” is a direct translation from the Latin word for glue, which is fitting since it gives dough its elasticity. Denser baked goods such as bread and pizza dough require flour higher in gluten to form properly. Cakes and pastries are generally much less dense in texture, so they require flour with much lower gluten levels. The amount of gluten a particular type of flour contains primarily depends on the type of wheat it is comprised of. Certain varieties of wheat naturally contain high levels of gluten and are commonly referred to as “hard” wheat. Other varieties naturally contain low levels of gluten and are commonly referred to as “soft” wheat. Flour producers choose the type of wheat they need for their given application, but also generally have to rely on chemical additives that manipulate both the gluten levels and the color of the flour. For instance, potassium bromate and ascorbic acid is often added to mature the flour and thus strengthen gluten levels. Chlorine, conversely, vastly lowers gluten content and is almost always present in cake flour to ensure its gluten level remains low.
Cake flour contains the lowest gluten levels of any of the readily available flours in the United States. Having a protein content of only six to eight percent, it makes perfect light batter to produce the moist, fluffy cakes everyone loves. Pastry flour has protein levels that fall in the range of nine to ten percent. The upper level of this range slightly overlaps with all purpose flour, but pastry flour has a much lighter texture, making it perfect for pie crusts, crackers, cookies, tarts and even biscuits. All purpose flour has a protein range of nine to twelve percent. Since it falls right in the middle of the range of protein contents available, it can be used for many applications, hence the name. The fact that all purpose flour is produced from a general mixture of the different types of wheat grain makes it more abundant and available to the consumer and much cheaper as well. The only down side to all purpose flour is that it is almost always bleached to remain white since it contains many different types of wheat. This strips away even more of the nutrients already dismal in number from the removal of the bran and germ earlier in the production process. The largest concentration of proteins in the different readily available flour types belongs to bread flour or high-gluten flour. Containing between ten and thirteen percent protein, bread flour is made from strictly “hard” wheat and provides the yeast commonly used in making bread and dough with plenty of food to keep them happy during the proofing process.
I feel like the bread application of flour really brings home the importance of the role it plays in our society. Many people take for granted that the loaf of bread in their cupboard will always be there. That if it runs out or spoils, more is available right down the road. In fact, though, throughout history, and sadly even still today, people line up in the streets and wait for just a chance that they might get a loaf of bread. If they do not, eating may not be an option that day. Wheat crops throughout the world form an irreplaceable link in the food production chain that keeps food on our tables. So when eating that breakfast biscuit or loaf bread with a ham sandwich, take a little time to appreciate the seemingly mundane flour that composes it. Life would not be the same without it.

Eating Local…

To us, eating local isn’t just a buzz word or the cool new “fad” thing to do, it is our way of life. Food is about our families, our communities and it is who we are.

When we started Bin 612 in the heart of the Cotton District seven years ago and Restaurant Tyler on the heart of Main St. a couple of years later, our focus was and has remained on being stewards of this community in the way we operate. Every step of the way, though it may cost us a little more and take a bit more time, we have supported and stayed true to our local farmers and our community. It is the only way we have ever known.

It’s an awesome feeling to meet with the farmers who are growing and producing the food we serve with honor and integrity for our community. Those men and women bring the flavor every single time and we are honored to work hand in hand with them in putting a great locally sourced meal on your plate!

We are proud that after years of doing things the “other” way, other area restaurants are following our lead and beginning to serve locally sourced foods and build relationships with those same farmers. That is a great thing for our community and we hope the movement continues to grow! Our Eatlocalstarkville.com restaurants vow to continue being the leading stewards of this Mississippi Community that we love and call home. We thank you for continuing to support us in our efforts when you EATLOCALSTARKVILLE!

Farm to Table Dinner

We are excited to be a part of the first ever Farm to Table Dinner benefitting Gaining Ground Sustainability Institute of Mississippi, a non profit organization. Chef Ty Thames will be leading a combination of staff from Restaurant Tyler, Zorba’s and Bin 612 in executing a one of a kind seven course menu featuring all local Mississippi products! Even the drinks will feature exclusively local products. We are proud to play a part in this event. The dinner is sold out and we hope you were one of the lucky folks that will be there. See you at the farm!