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Vestige’s Alex Perry Nominated as Best Chef South by James Beard Foundation

Photo courtesy of Vestige Restaurant

Chef Alex Perry has been making a name for himself for almost 10 years, and his reputation as an amazingly talented chef has grown exponentially. 

Beard has been nominated as Best Chef South by the James Beard Foundation twice (an honor most chefs can only dream of). Now, with his third nod from the nation’s most prestigious culinary foundation, he has been named a semifinalist. What does that mean? It means that sometime this month, someone is going to walk into his restaurant, Vestige, and make the decision: is Chef Alex Perry the best chef in the southern United States?

I have written about hundreds of restaurants over the years, and to me, there is not another chef that I have ever encountered who is as creative and innovative as Beard. Period. 

I have been a visitor to Vestige since the day it opened, and I have enjoyed watching the evolution of this restaurant and its menu. When it first opened, Chef Alex worked hard to develop a menu that would fit small-town but affluent Ocean Springs.

Vestige never was a corner diner, don’t get me wrong. It has always been an upscale but casual restaurant. But over the years, Chef Alex gained the confidence to start cooking the way he always wanted to cook. The emphasis is always on the best possible ingredients to make for delicious but unexpected pairings and world-class platings. The only reoccurring theme on this menu is excellence, and the menu is preset, meaning you get what Chef Alex decided to prepare for that week, there are no choices to make. There are some minor changes, based on the availability of ingredients, but the main theme does not change. 

A recent offering was pea pod and pollen chawanmushi, grilled Gulf royal reds, spring ragout of wild onions, grilled peas, wild licorice root, and sorghum koji sabayon. Another time it was pork jowl, carrot kimchi, black truffle aigre-doux, carrot kosho and uni emulsion, and truffle veils. See what I mean?

There is not another restaurant on the Mississippi Gulf Coast that is doing anything close to what Vestige puts out on a daily basis and my money says that by the end of this month, the Coast will have its first chef named best in the South. 


Written by Julian Brunt

Julian Brunt is a food and travel writer that has been writing about the food culture of the Deep South for over a decade. He is the eleventh generation of his family to live in the South, grew up in Europe, traveled extensively for the first fifteen years after graduating from the University of Maryland, University College, Heidelberg, Germany. Today, he's a contributor for multiple publications, including Our Mississippi Home. He's also appeared on Gordon Ramsay's television show, "To Hell and Back in 24 Hours."


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