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In Regina’s Kitchen: Local chef offers cooking classes, wine bar experience

 

NATCHEZ — Local chef Regina Charboneau recently fulfilled her vision of opening a brand new cooking school on Main Street, complete with an elegant wine and cheese bar located in the back room of Regina’s Kitchen.

While operating a restaurant at King’s Tavern and a bed and breakfast at Twin Oaks, Charboneau said she has hosted successful cooking classes at Twin Oaks for those who were traveling on the American Queen riverboat for the past 15 years.

The classes were very popular, she said, but being one person Charboneau said she wanted to train others to host regular classes every week at a school that bears her name.

“You can’t have a property in a town with 16,000 people and have only one business,” Charboneau said. “You have to have three.”

Charboneau said the space at 312 Main Street provided the ideal location for her new business venture, on one of the most heavily traveled streets in Downtown Natchez.

The school provided a different type of business that wouldn’t compete with the surrounding restaurants and has already employed nearly a dozen people, she said.

Kathy Culpepper and Merideth Trovato were both trained to prepare Charboneau’s famous biscuits — which have earned Natchez the distinction of being the biscuit capital of the world, Charboneau said.

Charboneau said she believes Main Street should not have a single empty building and that if every building were bought and filled, Main Street alone would host approximately 400 jobs in Natchez.

“I’m optimistic about Natchez, so I continue to invest in Natchez,” Charboneau said, adding that others she has met who invest in Natchez have also inspired her to be bold and branch out — including Tate Taylor and John Norris, who have produced films in Natchez.

Charboneau said she also received help from Fred and Melinda Kent, who owned Prentiss Club before it burned last September.

The dining and bar area behind the kitchen is lit by chandeliers, which formerly hung in the Prentiss Club and were donated to the new establishment. Richard Branyan cleaned the soot off of and refurbished them for an addition to the dining area, Charboneau said. A grand piano sits and the corner of the room, while floral murals garnish the walls with color.

“Knowing that so many like-minded people are invested in Natchez has helped reenergize me to do new things,” Charboneau said. “I feel confident in opening a new business in Natchez and believe we’re going to do well.

“When I open a business, I envision one that would make it in Charleston, Savannah or Atlanta. This would do well in any of those markets, so there is no reason it can’t do well in Natchez. It’s not about population, but it’s about servicing the people who come to visit.”

Biscuit classes are hosted at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. every weekday in Regina’s Kitchen, she said, and cost $25 per person. The school also provides lessons for a special three-course dinner on Tuesdays, wine and cheese lessons on Wednesdays, Southern cocktails and appetizers on Fridays, both cocktails and dinner on Saturdays and brunch lessons on Saturday and Sunday mornings that cost between $40 to $110 per person.

Regina’s Kitchen is closed Mondays with no classes on Thursday or Sunday evening, Charboneau said.

“We’re going to be here for a very long time, so there is no need to rush,” Charboneau said. “It’s OK now I don’t have a class everyday … but eventually, I hope to get to a point where we will.”

For more information, or to schedule a class, visit reginaskitchen.com or call 601-392-1756.