Southern Dish 101 was the place to be on Thursday, November 17. That’s when the Main Street Culinary Arts Center hosted a free Thanksgiving community dinner.
Owner-chef VerShawn Gray and his staff served glazed ham and smoked turkey with all the trimmings and two traditional Southern desserts: pound cake and banana pudding.
“This was a community effort: Nutramax was the sponsor and the Arras Foundation provided some of the volunteers,” Gray said.
“I met Mayor (Alston) DeVenny and his wife, Susan, at our grand opening (October 1) and shared my vision for the dinner with them at that time,” Gray said. “We want the homeless, veterans and seniors to know that we love them and that we are here for them.”
Susan DeVenny, president and CEO of the Arras Foundation, was moved to support Gray’s vision for the community event.
About 35 Thanksgiving meals were served, along with several dinners delivered to people unable to get out.
Part-time chef Katey Powell delivered a meal to George, a downtown homeless man.
“I was so happy to receive the food,” Powell said. “He asked Me to help him sit down so that he could enjoy the party properly.”
Four meals were also delivered to Chesterfield Villas.
It started with a vision
Gray credits the Lord for his vision for Southern Dish 101, which offers cooking classes, brunches, pop-up events and private catering in the heart of the city.
A single mother, she dreamed of having a house for herself and her two children. When the former Rock Hill resident began searching for her there, Gray realized she needed to broaden her search due to the tight housing market. Her real estate agent helped her find a property in the Edgewater community in Lancaster.
Earlier this year, Gray began offering cooking classes at the Edgewater clubhouse.
“Things just took off from there. It was then that I remembered that I had previously received a word from the Lord telling me that he was going to be working from home,” he said. “I had been working for a hotel in Rock Hill at the time, and I thought, ‘How is that going to happen?’ ”
After a few months of working from home and as her cooking classes became more popular, Gray looked to expand her customer base. However, Edgewater told him that only its residents were allowed to attend their classes in the clubhouse.
As a graduate of Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, Gray is passionate about sharing her love of cooking, so she began searching for a property that would meet her needs.
main street to the right
Its location at 226 S. Main St. is perfect. The room at the front of the building is spacious enough to seat 50 people at tables.
“For the last month, we’ve been offering a soup and salad bar weekdays from 11 to 2,” Gray said.
She found some of the furniture for this beautiful space at the end of the street at The Shops on Main. The elegant décor is the ideal backdrop for bridal and baby showers.
The back of the building houses the cooking school and all the equipment needed to instruct groups of enthusiastic hobby chefs.
Gray plans to continue his community outreach by offering local chefs the opportunity to use the space for a temporary restaurant.
Southern Dish 101 will serve hot chocolate and cookies during the annual Christmas in the city of Lancaster on December 3. A gingerbread house class may also be under construction.
Visit southdish101.com for a full schedule of upcoming cooking classes, as well as to purchase gift cards for classes and Sunday brunch.