For Mississippi Today’s first members-only book club, managing editor Kayleigh Skinner was joined by award-winning chef and now author Vishwesh Bhatt to answer questions from Mississippi Today members. Chef Bhatt discussed the inspiration behind his book, how he came into cooking, and the importance of community, among many other topics like how to properly approach cooking okra. His new book, “I Am From Here: Stories and Recipes from a Southern Chef” debuted August 16 and is a collection of recipes and stories from his unique perspective as a chef who has made a home here in the South. Read a full review of Bhatt’s book.

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A native of Gujarat, India, Bhatt later moved to the United States where he’s become known for his inventive dishes that bring southern staples together with subcontinent cuisine, such as Peanut Masala–Stuffed Baby Eggplant and Collard-Wrapped Catfish with a spicy Peanut Pesto. He is 2019 Southern Living’s Southerner of the Year, 2019 James Beard Foundation Best Chef South, and was inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Farmers, Artisans, and Chefs in 2022. Bhatt has been a part of Chef John Currence’s City Grocery Restaurant Group since 1997, becoming executive chef of Snackbar in Oxford, Miss., in 2009.

Bhatt will host a book signing prior to participating in the Taste of the South panel during the Mississippi Book Festival on August 20.

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