The Neon Pig Café was crowded with eager foodies Monday evening ready to buy Vivian Howard’s cookbook “Deep Run Roots” and eat food made with local ingredients from the Neon Pig.
Howard’s only Mississippi stop on her cookbook tour brought around 200 people to Oxford’s Neon Pig Monday evening.
Mitch McCamey, part owner of Neon Pig and friend of Howard’s, said that he is a huge cookbook nerd and thinks that Howard’s book and tour are phenomenal.
“Having an amazing restaurant, a show and a cookbook, it’s not easy and that says a lot about her,” McCamey said. “She is trying to serve everyone with her food truck [tour] and not just the elite.”
While guests were getting the cookbook signed, they enjoyed roasted oysters with brown-butter hot sauce and bacon along with other food from the Neon Pig cooks.
“Neon Pig sources local seafood, so we had Mitch pick an oyster dish from the cookbook,” Pearce said.
According to Trish McCluney, another co-owner of Neon Pig, the event was an inside-outside event. The Neon Pig served a complimentary butcher picnic free of charge for guests. The picnic included various farm vegetables and proteins complemented with house sauces and dry rubs.
Oxford resident Hope Kesler said a friend who works at Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen, a sister restaurant of Neon Pig located in Tupelo, told her about the event. Kesler said that she has been counting down to the day of the signing.
“I think this event is awesome,” Kesler said. “I thought the food was very good. It was my first time trying oysters, and I wasn’t disappointed.”
The signing was co-sponsored by Neon Pig and Square Books. Lyn Roberts, manager of Square Books, said she was excited Howard chose Oxford as part of her tour.
“I think the cookbook is great, and it’s part of this new set of food consciousness with farms,” Roberts said. “We are honored that [Howard] decided to come visit us in Oxford, especially since we are a big food town.”
First year law student at Ole Miss Rachel Buddrus used this event as a way to get something nice for her father.
“My mom emailed me about the event, but I probably would have went anyways,” Buddrus said. “I’ve watched a few of the shows. My dad is all about her shows, and his birthday is coming up; so it’s the perfect opportunity.”
Howard’s cookbook begins with an introductory chapter to discuss her rules with ingredients and tools to use when cooking, as well as meat-seasoning wisdom, her roots and food canning. She then goes in depth, discussing 24 specific ingredients. Each chapter includes a story of how the ingredient relates to Howard’s life, the wisdom of working with the ingredient and, of course, recipes.
Jaime Benge, a fan of Howard’s PBS show “A Chef’s Life,” said that she has been waiting for the book to come out and was glad to be able to meet Howard at the signing and try some of the food from the cookbook.
“I like her humor and writing in the cookbook,” Benge said. “The food was really good. I’ve never had roasted oysters before.”