Mother-daughter team to cater at Natchez Food and Wine Festival
NATCHEZ — Margaret Eidt Monger had the type of mother who would send her back to college with a week’s worth of casseroles.
“I’ll feed anybody,” said local caterer and mother of four, Sissy Eidt.
It wasn’t until Monger left her house in Natchez for Ole Miss that she really learned to cook. Mostly, that was because Monger’s mother, Eidt, didn’t give Monger a chance when she was living under her parents’ roof.
“Mom always cooked, so there wasn’t enough room in the kitchen for all of us,” Monger said.
But soon after venturing away from family meals, Monger learned to appreciate the hobby that runs several generations deep.
“I like to get in the kitchen with a glass of wine and see what happens,” Monger said.
Monger eventually became a caterer herself, but she now features food on glossy pages rather than on a plate. Monger is publisher and editorial director of “At Home Tennessee,” a lifestyle magazine she and her husband bought and run from Memphis, Tenn.
The mother-daughter duo will pair up for the first time in years to cater a breakfast during this weekend’s 11th-annual Natchez Food and Wine Festival.
The event, called Biscuits, Beignets and Breakfast is from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Natchez Coffee Company. The cost is $17.
With the help of her daughter, Sissy said she will be catering the pastries, beef grillades, spicy grits and fresh fruit. A local collection of art will also be on display, and artists will be present to mingle.
Sissy kicked off a cooking career after choosing to stay home after her fourth child was born following a career as a registered nurse.
For many of her specialties she makes for the clients of Sissy’s Everything Fancy Catering, the recipes are all in the family.
“I do a lot of Italian things because my family — on my mother’s side — is Italian,” Eidt said.
By now, Monger and her three brothers all cook. But when everyone comes back to Natchez like they will this weekend for the food and wine fest, Eidt takes back control of the kitchen.
Meatballs and spaghetti, using an old family recipe, is usually the meal that gets the whole family around the table, Eidt said.
“When we’re all together it’s an eating frenzy,” she said.
Another specialty passed down through the family and onto party menus that Eidt caters is stuffed artichokes, using her grandmother’s recipe.
While Monger said she hasn’t mastered the Italian food of her mother’s lineage, Eidt’s shrimp and grits and her Cajun-style recipes have made it into the Monger family repertoire.
Deadlines and the tendency for something to go wrong at the last minute are pressures Monger said she deals with in publishing that she gained experience with in the catering world.
But Monger said there’s something she loves about food that brings people together — especially families — that makes mealtime special.
And even when there are too many cooks in the kitchen and the frenzy of forks begins, cooking has a way of making everything seem in order.
“(Cooking) makes people stop the craziness, calm down and relax a little while,” Monger said.
And especially here in the South, food feeds the soul no matter what the occasion, she said.
“It’s like we always joke — no matter if someone’s happy, sad, sick or indifferent, (the remedy) always revolves around food,” Monger said.
Tickets for Biscuit’s Beignets and Breakfast and other Natchez Food and Wine Festival events can be purchased at www.natchezfoodandwinefest.com.
Other non-sold out events
– Tastings Along the River at 6:30 p.m. Friday for $50 at the Natchez Convention Center.
– Brew, Blues and Burgers at from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday for $35 at Bowie’s Tavern.
– Invitation to the Natchez Table at 6:30 p.m. for $85 at Monmouth, The Carriage House and the Briar Vue at the Briars.
– Champagne and Jazz Brunch at 11 a.m. and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday for $50 by reservation at the Carriage House on the Stanton Hall grounds.
Food and Wine festival co-coordinator René Adams said any profits from the festival are used as seed money for the coming year’s festival.
The goal, Adams said, is to eventually have enough saved up to bring in a nationally or internationally known celebrity chef.
“Without the hard work and support of the entire community, (the festival) wouldn’t be possible,” Adams said.
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