Regina’s Kitchen serving up a new vision

Published 10:02 pm Friday, December 4, 2020

By LYNDY BERRYHILL

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Regina’s Kitchen plans to keep its doors open with a new vision as its namesake chef retires.

Renowned chef Regina Charboneau, who has been on the Natchez restaurant frontline for nearly two decades, will celebrate her retirement from the venue on Dec. 20.

“I’m just looking for some time off,” Charboneau said.

Charboneau and her family have operated several notable restaurants in Natchez, including King’s Tavern and Twin Oaks Bed and Breakfast. Her husband, Doug, and son, Jean-Luc, also run Charboneau Rum Distillery.

Regina Charboneau said she will devote her spare time to more restaurant consulting. She also is working on finishing her newest book, which will be part memoir and part cookbook.

Regina Charboneau said she will still stay active with cuisine and in the community, but at a slower pace.

“I’ve been incredibly hands-on here,” she said. “My next ventures will be more creative and less complex.”

Regina Charboneau and restaurant partner Fred Kent are already testing new chefs to take the reins.

“We’re on the search to find the right people to continue the work that I’ve done,” Regina Charboneau said.

Regina’s Kitchen will host a series of special guest chefs to design and serve pop-up menus in Natchez.

“We’ll have guest chefs on a monthly basis until we find a sweet spot,” Kent said. “If Natchez likes him, he’ll stay.”

Regina’s Kitchen is offering local music and a special menu from Thursday to Sunday, until Saturday, Dec. 12.  Reservations are required for Saturday and Sunday dinners.

“We’re going to have good food, good wine and good music,” Kent said.

The first guest chef featured will be Tennessee-born chef Josh Harmon.

Harmon has worked in top-tier kitchens in New York City and most recently in Dallas. Eater Magazine named Harmon “Chef of the Year” for Dallas before he opened Butler’s Cabinet and Party On Catering there.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 forced Harmon to shut down his business earlier this year.

Known for experimenting with fermentation and Asian dishes, Harmon is enjoying testing the waters on the Bluff.

“I love the city,” Harmon said.

Harmon has collaborated with Regina Charboneau many times and considers her his “Culinary Mother” and mentor.

“She’s really helped me progress my career,” Harmon said.

In preparation, they worked together to design his current pop-up menus. Harmon’s dishes infuse classic Southern recipes such as pimento cheese and shrimp and grits with his own twists.

“We want to see what people will eat and how far we can take it,” Harmon said. “We want to see if we can make this work.”

Harmon said he appreciates Regina Charboneau putting her town’s culinary scene in the national spotlight. He sees a lot of opportunities to build on her effort and push the limits in Natchez.

“It would be really cool to be a champion for Natchez,” Harmon said.

Charboneau seems equally interested in seeing Harmon put down roots.

“I’m very excited about Josh Harmon,” Charboneau said. “He’s just a great guy.”

She said she is looking forward to Natchez getting a taste of what Harmon offers as he continues his pop-up menus.

“This is the time for people to come and check it out,” Charboneau said.