Northwest culinary arts class donates food to homeless

NWHRMTdonationWhen Northwest Mississippi Community College Hotel and Restaurant Management Technology instructor Kay Mistilis was asked to participate in catering side dishes for this year’s Mississippi Legislative Appreciation Luncheon in Jackson, she knew it would be a great opportunity for her culinary arts students. Little did she know that opportunity would teach them about much more than just cooking.

The event was to be held on January 28, and Mistilis, whose program is housed at DeSoto Center, ordered and procured the food for the occasion. She and her students were invited by John Woods at First Choice Catering of Horn Lake to use his facilities to prepare and cook the food. “Northwest instructors and culinary students worked many hours to be ready for this occasion,” Mistilis said. She, her students, adjunct instructor Deborah Thompson and her sister Ann Todd drove down to Jackson a day early to get ready for the luncheon. Patsy Gardner, Northwest DeSoto Center Career-Technical Education Support Services coordinator drove a cargo van without seats, loaded with enough red potatoes stuffed with caramelized bacon and homemade Boursin cheese with a sprinkle of caviar, and Caprese Salad on a stick to feed 500-600 people.

Early on the morning of the event, the instructors and students were ready to go, dressed in the new chef coats they had purchased for the event, when Mistilis received an email notifying her that the event had been cancelled due to inclement weather. “I did not want this good food to go to waste, so I just started calling Jackson area shelters hoping that someone could use a can load of food,” Mistilis said. She was able to make a connection with the Salvation Army.  “Their administrative office was open and they had one driver available to pick up the food,” Mistilis said.

Captain Ken Chapman, regional coordinator of the Jackson region of the Salvation Army personally arrived and was very appreciative of the donation. “The homeless of Jackson will eat gourmet food today,” Chapman said.

Students who worked to prepare the meals included Eli Frieson of Tunica, Vanessa Beale of Walls, Shawn Dawson and Evelyn Porter of Coldwater, Emily Endraske of Byhalia, Lawrence Gautier of Ocean Springs and Darius Profit of Clarksdale.

For more information on the Hotel and Restaurant Management Technology program at DeSoto Center, contact Mistilis at 662-280-6133 or email

Pictured: Instructors and students in the Hotel and Restaurant Management Technology program at Northwest Mississippi Community College DeSoto Center donated food to the Jackson area Salvation Army to feed the homeless. The students and instructors had prepared the food for a legislative event in Jackson that was cancelled due to inclement weather. Pictured are Deborah Thompson, adjunct instructor, Eli Frieson of Tunica, Captain Ken Chapman of the Jackson Salvation Army and Kay Mistilis, instructor. (Photo submitted)

Story by LaJuan Tallo, Communications Assistant

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