Stewpot cook: Each day ‘like a holiday’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2000

Cooking lunch meals for more than 240 people each day is a &uot;blessing&uot; for Natchez Community Stewpot cook Johnny Davis.

&uot;It’s kind of like a holiday when all of my family gets together,&uot; Davis says while cutting turkey slices for the carry-out orders.

Designing the menu, keeping tabs on food inventory and preparing and serving the meals are just a few of her daily duties. The 44-year-old doesn’t seem to mind though. She says the stewpot is like her second home.

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&uot;There is no one standing over me telling me how or what to cook,&uot; Davis says, &uot;this is my kitchen.&uot;

Davis has made this apparent by personalizing the otherwise stale kitchen with homemade angel ornaments and a radio playing her favorite gospel station.

&uot;The gospel music lifts my spirits and really helps when I’m feeling depressed,&uot; Davis says.

Davis says she loves when her family visits, but once they are gone, loneliness sets in. That is when her stewpot family adds needed support.

&uot;I’d rather be where the people are- where my friends are,&uot; Davis says, giving a wave toward the front door.

Throughout her eight years as being the only cook at the stewpot, Davis has made quite an impression on her co-workers.

Stewpot volunteer Chiquita Williams says Davis has been like another mother and best friend to her. &uot;I actually look forward to coming to work because I know she will brighten my day,&uot; Williams says shyly.

Aside from cooking six — sometimes seven — days a week at the stewpot, Davis still finds the time to help cook Wednesday night meals at Trinity Episcopal Church.

Natchez Community Stewpot president and Trinity Episcopal church member Louis Gunning says Davis is the only paid employee at the stewpot. Gunning says about 200 of Davis’ meals are carry-outs that will be delivered. Volunteers make up for the rest of the workers at the stewpot.

&uot;I’d hate to ever lose her, I’d probably have to quit myself,&uot; Gunning says. Adding that Davis has a close kinship with the people on her staff. &uot;She is very efficient, and does an excellent job.&uot;

So how does one person cook everyday for hundreds of people and not get sick of it. &uot;Oh, this (cooking) is my hobby too,&uot; she says smiling.