You may not have heard of Mindy Mitchell yet, and chances are you have not had her food, but she is one that we have been keeping a close eye on as a very quiet rising star in the local food industry. This week Mitchell officially joins Honey Pies, a surprising star in the local food scene in its own right, as executive chef.
Mitchell is another in a long line of great New Orleans Katrina transplants to impact Little Rock’s Culinary scene. During her time in New Orleans she worked in various positions within the hospitality industry with a number of large hotels in the city. After Katrina Mitchell moved around a bit before settling in Little Rock, it was at that point that she decided to pursue a culinary career.
She graduated from Pulaski Tech’s Culinary Arts program, which has been kicking out a number of quality chefs lately. While in school she worked as executive chef for Mo Betta Gumbo in Benton, and after for Courtyard Marriott in North Little Rock.
“Bringing Mindy on board allows us to streamline a lot of our processes and get our kitchen functioning at a high level,” Honey Pies owner Sharon Woodson tells us. “We have huge plans to grow, but first we have to operate efficiently. Then Mindy is going to work to train some of our already great kitchen workers to become executive level chefs themselves so that they can lead some of our future initiatives. Mindy is going to become a very integral part of our future.”
Initially things will be business as usual for Honey Pies. Mitchell plans to work on keeping more of the shop’s popular items available and rotating in seasonal items and specials. Eventually Mitchell wants to introduce a few new savory dishes, especially in the breakfast category, to enhance the overall offerings of Honey Pies.
The relationship between Mitchell and Honey Pies has been blossoming for a couple of months. Mitchell did a popup brunch in December at the shop. I visited during the time and spent a while in the kitchen and you could easily see a chemistry developing between Mitchell and the other kitchen staff.
“I came in here and was blown away with how great the staff is. There are some people back here who have a lot of talent and it was a blast to work with them,” Mitchell explains. “The thing that struck me the most was how well everyone worked together. They all looked after each other and worked as a unit. If someone needed help others would drop what they were doing to assist. If a dish needed washed everyone chipped in to clean it. It was very refreshing to see a kitchen that worked that way.”
The new role also gives Mitchell access to the kitchen during off hours to work on her own private chef and catering business, something that is becoming a popular arrangement with chefs. Mitchell focuses on New Orleans comfort dishes and hopes to spread some of the food that she loves cooking. She is available for in home private chef meals and cooking classes as well as larger catering events. We have had a number of meals from Mitchell and all have been as close to New Orleans flavor as you will find in town.
The addition for Honey Pies should lead to a lot of great things in the future, especially as they look to utilize the space next door that is part of their lease. They are looking at the possibility of more popups and dinners in the future using Mitchell.