Chef Rashanna Newsome Doesn't Have a Favorite Dish

Known for her imaginative flavors and riffs on classic dishes, Chef Rashanna Newsome helps keep the flames and culinary innovation burning at one of Jackson's favorite restaurants.

Rashanna Newsome in the kitchen
Newsome
Credit: Drew Dempsey/Tell Agency

Chef Rashanna Newsome has a dirty secret about the beginnings of her culinary career. The operative word is dirt, more specifically. "I might get in trouble for this if my mom reads it," Newsome laughs.

"When I was little, I used to take pots out of our kitchen, then go outside and make mudpies. There was one pot in particular that I liked, along with one of the kitchen spoons, and I would go outside to our little shed in the back and dig up dirt, grab some water, and then stir it up. I would be talking to myself out there like I was on a cooking show. I would take that mixture and spoon it into pancakes to harden, then sneak everything back inside."

She does want to note that the burgled pots were always cleaned after use.

As Head Catering Chef for The Manship Woodfired Kitchen, Newsome's talents extend far beyond backyard flapjacks. Known for her imaginative flavors and riffs on classic dishes, she helps keep the flames and culinary innovation burning at one of Jackson's favorite restaurants.

"To be honest, I don't know what drew me into telling myself, 'Hey, you need to cook," Newsome said. "I think it was because every time I would go into the kitchen, my mom was in there cooking. I can see her now, smell the spaghetti that she always made. It's still one of my favorite dishes of hers."

Newsome's visits to her father in Atlanta gave her additional exposure to catering and cooking for large groups of people. "My dad was on the chef team for big events at the Georgia Dome, so he saw and cooked for a lot of people, a lot of celebrities," Newsome said. "He would wake up and go to work at four in the morning and be there for hours to prep."

Rashanna Newsome
Newsome
Credit: Drew Dempsey/Tell Agency

Juxtaposing her parents' love of cooking and stringent work ethic, Newsome took her talents to Chicago after high school to attend Washburne Culinary & Hospitality Institute. There, she fell in love with the hustle and hands-on experience of catering, where the school would train students in their real-time restaurant.

"I remember the first two weeks I started school," Newsome said. "I came home crying one day because my feet were hurting so bad, I had never stood up that long. The class was from eight to two, and we had to stand in the kitchen all day. I cried and was second-guessing my career choice (laughs). Now, I can stand easily for up to sixteen hours at times, it doesn't bother me at all. Those first experiences in cooking school taught me a lot."

Upon her return to Jackson, Newsome worked for several restaurants before landing at Manship, including a stint as the Executive Chef of Aplos Simple Mediterranean. Recognizing her talent and leadership abilities, Executive Chef Alex Eaton invited her back to be Manship's catering lead, and she's been serving up inventive flavors ever since.

When she's not prepping her team for an event, you can find Newsome helping put together some of the menus for Manship's celebrated Wine Dinners, including one inspired by the rich history of African cuisine. "African and Moroccan meals are my goal right now," Newsome said. "Right before this, I was prepping African curry. I get to work with team members in the kitchen with palates from all over, and they teach me so much about elevating everyday cuisine."

The one question you'll never hear Newsome answer, though, is what her favorite dish to cook is. "I love cooking and experimenting," Newsome said. "That's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to perfect every type of cuisine. When somebody asks me, 'So, what's your favorite thing you like to cook?' I say, 'You just let me know what you want. And I'll make that. That's my favorite thing.'

Newsome's Top Dining Picks in Jackson

Saltine - "I love their brunch on Sundays, especially with a half-priced bottle (or two) of prosecco."

Aplos Simple Mediterranean - "I helped open [Aplos], and I just fell in love with that place."

Martin's Downtown & Ole Tavern On George Street - "Two of my go-to's for grabbing a drink and relaxing after work."

Anne Marie Fowler

Author

Anne Marie Fowler

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