Career paths can often change in an instant due to certain circumstances. For Southern Table Chef Kevin Morris, his career path in the construction industry was halted after a skin cancer scare.
The Water Valley, Mississippi native quickly realized his health was more important than the job at hand. Two weeks after his diagnosis he packed his bags and traveled west, which landed him in Houston. He then enrolled in the Art Institute of Houston and received a bachelor of arts in culinary arts.
Morris said he always had a passion for cooking. He grew up standing next to his father in the kitchen learning the tricks of the trade and on Sundays he would help his grandmother prepare lunch after church. These two experiences helped craft his southern cuisine techniques.
While studying in Houston, Morris was able to work under professional chefs. His cuisine reached the mouths of esteemed guests like Houston Texans football players, Astros baseball players and even George H. W. Bush Sr.
Morris gravitated back to his Mississippi roots after thinking about where he wanted to settle and raise a family. Upon moving back to Oxford, he began forming a relationship with developer Terry Warren, owner of Rebel Rags.
Warren, also a native to Water Valley, bought a building there in hopes of creating a restaurant with Morris as chef. However, obstacles arose that prevented the duo from establishing the restaurant in the Valley.
“We had trouble with the city [officials],” Warren said. “They created a beer law that the restaurant just couldn’t survive on.”
The law, which was overturned earlier in June, banned selling cold beer in retail establishments. Warren and Morris then decided to move the concept to Oxford.
Southern Table Bar and Grill now resides at the edge of the county on Thacker Road, in the building that used to be Mr. Feathers Tavern. The concept is a combination of his grandmother’s southern cuisine and Texan influences.
“There’s not a lot of Texas-style restaurants in Oxford,” Morris said.
He said the restaurant offers prime beef and certified Angus beef. He’s also adding dishes that aren’t usually found in Oxford, like smoked octopus and fresh fish and oysters that will be delivered twice a week.
Southern Table offers a large patio with a full bar, patio seating and a stage where Owen hopes acoustic artists will come and play for guests. The patio also features the restaurant’s smoker where their meats will be cooked to perfection.
The restaurant is open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
By Talbert Toole, lifestyles editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.