Folks in Hartselle come into Ann’s Gourmet Cafe to get Southern cooking in a slightly upscale environment.
“This is not a meat and three,” owner Ann Whisenant said of her business.
Ann’s Gourmet Cafe and Catering, 610 Nanceford Road, Hartselle, celebrated its two-year anniversary in January. Operated by Whisenant and her husband, Ken, the 1950s-meets-modern-gourmet-styled diner offers up gourmet sandwiches, such as the Monte Cristo and Grilled BLT, signature dishes such as poulet, velvet chicken noodle soup and assorted desserts such as oversized mini-cakes. They also serve glass bottled Coca-Cola products with “pop tops” that young people just love to pop, Ann said.
The cafe is open Mondays through Fridays, and also offers an extensive catering menu for special events.
Whisenant is no rookie to the business. She was the previous owner of the Oden House Bed and Breakfast on Main Street and has been catering and directing weddings and other events for nearly 30 years, she said.
“My grandmother was my mentor. She loved to cook. She was a great Southern cook,” Whisenant said. “I started doing our meals when I was eight.”
Through the years, she started cooking and doing events for friends and family, and it turned into a full-time job.
The cafe reflects Whisenant’s personality and demeanor, with inspirational signs and mementos decorating the walls with sayings such as “Behind every successful woman is herself,” “Kindness matters,” “Good things happen to those who go for it!” and “Spice a dish with love and it pleases every palate.”
A collection of Volkswagen Beatle figurines adorns one wall. The Whisenants own a 1971 Super Beatle which they take to cruise-ins. The pale yellow Beatle has a wooden rack and surf board on top and a tag that states “Joy to Life.” In warmer weather, the couple park the Super Beatle outside the cafe with two tables. Many people stop to take photos with the Beatle, she said.
Whisenant hopes her Southern cooking is a catalyst for inspiration and ministry. The slogan for the restaurant “Feeding the Tennessee Valley One Bite at a Time” reflects that.
“What I do is a gift from God. I realize that,” she said.
Whisenant credits her grandmother, the late Ola Garrett, for teaching her to create a comfortable place where people can come and relax. Garrett lived in the Ruth community near Arab and always had a garden, loved to cook typical Southern foods and loved to decorate, Whisenant said.
Whisenant said two of her favorite recipes from her grandmother are her egg custard and tea cakes.
“Mama Garret taught me how to cook this delicious custard when I was very young ... it is wonderful,” she said.
Below Ann shares her grandmother’s egg custard recipe. Enjoy!
Mama Garrett’s Egg Custard
9-inch pie crust
3 eggs beaten
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 egg white
2 1/2 cup of scalded milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla. Stir well, blend in scalded milk. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes.
Ann’s Gourmet Café and Catering is located in the same building as the Texaco at 610 Nanceford Road. The cafe is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Along with the cafe, the business caters for lunch or dinner to wedding events, class reunions, corporate events, club meetings, churches, office parties and just about any other special meeting or event.
Catering clients can choose entrees, sides and desserts from a list including dried fruit stuffed pork loin, chicken poulet, lasagna supreme, chili, white chicken chili, glazed meatloaf, seven-layer salad, spinach and strawberry salad, creamy potato salad, deluxe grilled cheese sandwich, broccoli coleslaw, lemon almond cake, coconut cake, girdle buster cake, frozen creme de menthe dessert and mint chocolate rose cake with chocolate glaze and toasted almonds.
Southern cooking book
Ann Whisenant, owner of Ann’s Gourmet Cafe and Catering, is working on a cookbook. The book is planned to be released by Christmas. Call Whisenant at 256-751-2992 or 256-612-2563 to reserve yours.
|High School Sports||@DecaturPreps|