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Chef Janet Out and About – Mt. Ida Possum Picnic

by: Katherine Ketter

Chicken salad, chicken salad and more chicken salad!

When she is not sharing her amazing culinary skills with her employees, Chef Janet Z makes it a priority to connect with the community and pass along her gifts whenever she can.  In her latest adventure she responded to a request from Jane and Gerry Babbitt, concessions operator and sound technician of the Frontporch Stage, for her assistance in the Mt. Ida Possum Picnic and Parade in Montgomery county, Arkansas. There she, along with many enthusiastic helpers, catered for the community constructing 120 box lunches to be sold to help raise money for a new sound system at the Frontporch Stage, the host of this illustrious event. This venue provides free concerts on Saturday nights from May until October to anyone wanting to enjoy a live performance. Most of the talent comes from different cities around Arkansas all flocking to the Frontporch simply for the joy of making music. These traveling musicians play for tips only.

For this particular event ‘The Acousticatz’ gave a wonderful performance much to the delight of the huge crowd that gathered over the course of the evening. Overwhelmingly attended with over 200 guests, the Possum Picnic garnered one of the biggest crowds the Frontporch has seen in their 11 years of business. It was such an outpouring of support from a town of just under 1000 people. Guests were treated to a wonderful live music performance, and healthy eating in a family picnic style. The food crew sold pigs-in-a-blanket, cookies and boxed lunches, which included a chicken salad sandwich, a crisp Tango apple, chips, a brownie and a drink. The cookies and brownies sported special Mona Lisa Possum Event stickers and Z’s chicken salad went over especially well with many of the guests who raved about it’s savory taste.

Picnic attendees enjoying the performance.

Though it was taxing, the kitchen staff cooked up everything they could find and managed to raise $700 in food sales out of the $1000 raised overall by the event. Both children and adults were delighted to enjoy the festivities in a town of people that felt more like family than neighbors.  In a county without a single stoplight, Mt. Ida is a town full of artisans, painters, musicians and quilters. It is a simple yet naturally beautiful town located on the Ouachita mountains, a mere 35 min. from Hot Springs and is popularized by great fishing and boating, as well as beautiful running and biking trails. The locals welcomed Chef Janet into their homes to enjoy food and music every night  she was there.  A quaint little cabin called the Irish Rose, owned by community member Mike Adams, graciously offered her a place to lay her head. Thank you to all the amazing kitchen staff and new friends who helped Chef Janet in contributing to the success of this wonderful event.

Categories: Beyond the Cafe