Savage humbled by cooking compliments

Savage humbled by cooking compliments


James Savage said the best aspect of cooking is bringing people together and hearing someone tell him his food is the best thing they’ve ever tasted is incredibly humbling for him. 

“I love people and am very social,” Savage said. “I look for the first reaction after the first bite of something that I prepared. Compliments such as ‘This is great’ or ‘This is one of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted before' are some of the humbling things that I can hear someone say about the food that I’ve prepared. I mean that in the most humble way possible because I use food to help make people happy.”

Savage was born in New Orleans, La., but has spent the majority of his life in Neshoba County in the Sandtown community. He enjoys cooking and spending time with his wife Shanequa and three children, Jeston, Jordan, and Zuri. 

Savage said he comes from a line of cooks and observed his family members cooking anything from frying chicken to making gumbo while he was growing up. 

“My dad, James Savage Sr., always would cook something good when we were growing up,” Savage said. “He loved to barbecue. He would normally be bringing meat outside or telling me ‘Go get the pan…bring me the seasoning salt…or sauce’ and I was the one who would usually willingly stand beside him while he was doing his thing on the grill. My mother, Nikki, would usually handle the sides.”

He said his parents would also cook a good Sunday lunch that consisted of some type of meat, either fried or baked, vegetables, and cornbread, which he said is the best cornbread he’s tasted and has yet to taste any better. 

“I would watch and learn,” Savage said. “I took that learning experience into my own hands around the age of 15 or 16. I started grilling chicken or burgers for friends when they came over to hang out. I also learned a lot when I worked at the Beach Club at the water park. Under Chef Michael Rush’s leadership, we hand cut steaks, weighed and made burgers from fresh ground beef, made different appetizers such as calamari, boom boom shrimp, wings, and more. I also used to love watching one of my favorite shows, Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, which drew a lot of my cooking interests.”

Savage eventually began frying chicken and fish and grilling burgers for his family and prepared side dishes like mac and cheese, baked beans, and mashed potatoes. He really began to take cooking seriously when he started college and decided it was time to take over and help his parents out. 

His favorite things to prepare are ribs, Boston butts, turkey, shrimp and grits, gumbo, boiled crawfish, red beans and rice, and pan fried homemade hamburgers. 

“I love to cook peas and/or beans,” Savage said. “I try to mimic my mom’s cornbread, and although my cornbread usually turns out good, it still has nothing on my mom’s cornbread. Her cornbread is still the best. I don’t normally make any sweets from scratch, but my wife does make a really good homemade peach cobbler.”


4 to 5 ounces of raw lamb chops 

One bottle of W Sauce (brand of Worcestershire sauce)

Salt to taste (optional)

Marinate lamb chops in W sauce for 24 hours. Cook over a set of coals at 350-400 degrees for around four minutes on each side. 

Serve lamb chops at medium or medium well. 


5 pounds ground beef 

4-5 cans red kidney beans

One big can of tomato sauce 

One bottle of chili seasoning 

4-5 cans diced tomatoes 

3 cans stewed tomatoes 

Brown the ground beef and drain. Add tomato sauce, diced/stewed tomatoes, and kidney beans. 

Season with your choice of chili seasoning, and simmer the chili for approximately 30 minutes. 

Serve with crackers, cornbread, sour cream, or shredded cheese. 


Crab meat 

2-3 packs of crawfish tails 

2-3 packs of gulf shrimp 

3 packs of Country Pleasin Original Sausage 

Whole chicken 

4-5 green bell peppers 

4-5 yellow onions 

1 bundle celery stalks 

Cut okra 

Garlic cloves 

Jasmine rice 

Slap Ya Momma's Seasoning or any Cajun seasoning of your choice

Boil the chicken and debone. Save chicken stock for the gumbo. Brown the sausage and drain it. Use a cup of flour and a cup of oil to make the roux. 

Stir roux on mid heat for 45 minutes to get the right chocolate brown color. 

Add chopped peppers, onions, and celery to the roux and let soften. Add mixture to the chicken stock. 

Boil the mixture and simmer to thicken. Add chicken, okra, sausage, and bay leaves to the gumbo stock. Add crawfish tails, shrimp, and crab. Simmer for 30 minutes while continuing to stir. 

Add rice and season to your taste. 

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