Hub City chef to add spice to Wesson Chamber banquet

Published 9:05 pm Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Brookhaven native, restaurateur and television chef Katie Dixon is bringing her A game —  but not her apron — to the 27th annual Wesson Chamber of Commerce membership banquet.

Dixon, who lives in Hattiesburg with her husband and two daughters, will be the guest speaker at the banquet, which is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Thames Center at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by Jan. 20 at Trustmark National Bank at 1027 Spring St. and Another Time Another Place at 1024 Spring St.

While an expert chef and a past contestant on both Fox’s “Master Chef” and the Food Network’s “Food Network Star,” Dixon is coming to share her story with the audience, not her cooking.

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As owner of the Birdhouse Café, which she opened two years ago this week, Dixon plans to talk about the process of growing a successful business and the difficulties of “stepping out of your comfort zone with new ideas,” she said.

The Birdhouse offers a range of power foods from acai bowls and salads to healthy takes on traditional, Southern fare. Aside from owning the Birdhouse, Dixon also offers a full service meal prep program, a healthy sweet treats menu, private dining, event catering and cooking classes.

“I fail sometimes and I get back up and try again. It’s important to be able to do that and know that with success and anything great in life there are going to be times that are very trying,” she said. “You have to be a visionary and be able to see around that and see through it to get to the other side.”

She credits her family — parents Henry and Vickie Newman still live in Brookhaven — and friends and mentors who have offered her a lifetime of support including teachers and classmates from her alma mater, Brookhaven Academy.

“I had so many amazing people who would push me along my way with words of encouragement,” she said.

Since competing on “Master Chef” in 2016, Dixon has gone on to compete on the Food Network and is often called upon as a judge in culinary competitions nationwide. She’s a spokesperson for the MS UProot Campaign, which is charged with “building a healthier Mississippi from the ground up.”

She was awarded Best Chef of the Pine Belt in 2017 and Best Personality and Best New Restaurant in the Pine Belt for 2018.

She’s planning to expand her restaurant to a second location, which, unfortunately, is not Brookhaven. Not yet, anyway.

“I hope one day to be able to get in my hometown,” she said. “I really do hope to have something there, even a small something there eventually, would be very exciting. Or even do pop-up locations there. Something like that would be a lot of fun for me.”

She doesn’t get home as much as she’d like so the invitation from the Wesson Chamber was a great opportunity. Dixon’s mother was raised in Wesson and will likely attend with her daughter.

“I look just forward to seeing everybody and getting to share my story with the people who made my story possible. The people who taught me as a child and encouraged me to become who I am today,” she said. “(This appearance) is a ‘thank you’ to be able to come back and share my story with the people that really started my story.”