Tallahatchie Gourmet brings a welcome dollop of Cajun cuisine to a region surprisingly bereft of its spicy charms.
Located on Main Street, the restaurant is one of the most frequented in New Albany, just 30 hungry minutes from Oxford.
The food offered at Tallahatchie is merely an apertif for the raucous and no-holds-barred atmosphere that permeates the establishment.
Angele Muller, owner of Tallahatchie Gourmet, decided to open the restaurant in 2002 after successfully operating a small catering business. Muller discovered her love for cooking when she started making Cajun style feasts for her church. Although she enjoyed the experience, Muller believed she had the passion and drive to go further and open her own restaurant.
“I have always loved food and entertaining,” she said. “I started it as a small catering business and lunch restaurant, and it continued to grow.”
She decided on the mixture of Cajun and Southern food for the menu because she grew up in New Orleans and loved Cajun food, yet found it hard to find great Cajun food in this part of Mississippi.
Tallahatchie Gourmet is now open for lunch and dinner. Along with a broad menu, Muller offers many take-home frozen casseroles for families on the go. White and red lasagna, poppy seed chicken, spinach and chicken enchiladas are just a few of the popular offerings from the Tallahatchie Gourmet.
Tallahatchie Gourmet often caters events in Lafayette County. The catering ranges from weddings to corporate events. Muller pridefully states that she creates a specialized menu to meet the preferences of the host of each event.
She also tries to help out college students, often hiring them to help cater events. Due to the demands and size of many of the events she caters, Muller finds it helpful to have a large, industrious and competent staff.
Along with the catering that is done in Oxford, owner Muller hopes to one day expand her kitchen to Oxford as well. She believes that, with her reasonably priced and delicious fare, Tallahatchie Gourmet will be very successful in a college town.
Employee and daughter of Angele Muller, Meredith Muller, has been with Tallahatchie Gourmet since the beginning.
“I remember my mom quit her job as a counselor at our high school,” she said. “I was in third grade. At first, she opened a small restaurant that only sold casseroles and soups and things like pound cake. It was nothing compared to what it is now.”
Meredith Muller said she thinks she feels more pressure than most of the employees because her mom is her boss. She feels like she has a lot to live up to. Though her mother is incredibly supportive, Meredith is determined to be her mother’s best employee.
Her favorite part about working for her mom is catering because it the biggest part of the business and it allows her to witness many exciting occasions. At least 20 lunches go out a day to doctors offices and other small clinics. Every week, there are at least five smaller parties, and during the weekend, there are huge parties that take a lot of work.
She is busiest during wedding season.
“We have to prep all week before, and get all the pottery and decorations and passing plates ready. And the day of, we have to make sure we have the right amount of workers, and they’re all wearing the appropriate thing, and they are ready to work.
“Then, we have to put all of the food out, and sometimes the alcohol, and prepare the bartenders, and we then have a very long night ahead of us. The process usually takes from 10 in the morning to two in the morning the next day.”
Meredith said she has never heard anyone truly complain about working for her mom.
“She is a great boss, and even though she may be assertive, bossy or strict sometimes, that is what her type of job calls for,” she said. “Nothing would get done without her, and I have people all the time come up to me praising her catering job, her food, and just her, completely.”
Although owner Angele Muller agrees that the restaurant business can be very stressful at times, she ultimately finds it rewarding. She said “the best part of having a restaurant is after a busy night or day, your customers are happy, and you have money in the bank.”