HOME > Chowhound > General South Archive >


"Southern Hospitality" Themed Food

Hi there, I've never been to the South before, and need some help. I've got a client (I work for a catering company in San Francisco) that wants to do a Southern Hospitality Buffet for a luncheon on October. Some menu items I'm thinking of are:

Cajun spiced rubbed Beef Roast
Chicken and Dumplings
Cajun-Andouille Sausages
Spicy Chicken Wings
Chicken Po-boy sandwiches
Barbecued Baby Back Ribs

cheese and crackers, and crudite w/dip

I'm sure there's lots of other things I can serve--can anyone help out and give me some suggestions? I don't want the food to be too messy, so I'd actually rather delete the ribs and come up with something else. Many thanks in advance for any and all suggestions!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Okay, most of what you've listed is "Cajun" and not "Southern".Even Southern in it's self has regional variations.

    For Southern (General):

    If you do ribs you're looking at side ribs, not BB's and cooked low and slow with smoke or over hardwood.

    Fried!! Any or all of fried chicken, catfish or chicken fried steak. All but the catfish would be served with milk gravy and mashed potatoes. There is also fried okra and believe it or not, fried dill pickles. Of course, there's fried green tomatoes as well.

    Greens. Either collards or mustard greens or something like that. Cooked to death I might add.

    White beans (Cooked similarly to the beans below). Creamed corn, squash casserole and/or sweet potato casserole.

    Green beans or black eyed peas cooked in a pot with a bit of onion and a smoked ham hock. 'Til the hock falls apart. Also, see "Hoppin' John"

    Cornbread. A must.

    Coleslaw and/or potato salad.

    Pulled pork (Or barbecue). On cheap burger buns with slaw and sauce.

    Some more regional stuff would be things like "Shrimp and grits" or Brunswick Stew. You could also look up "Frogmore Stew."

    Look up "Low Country Cooking"

    For desert try banana pudding (See back of 'Nilla Wafers package), pecan pie, peach cobbler and coconut cake.

    It's really very easy to google recipes on all of this stuff.


    4 Replies
    1. re: Davwud

      Yep, I was looking at a menu that was a New Orleans theme from a few years ago. But your info is EXTREMEMLY helpful, I really appreciate it!

      1. re: rednails

        Don't forget the sweet (iced) tea and lemonade


        1. re: Davwud

          Must add the suger while the tea is still hot to get the proper saturation!

          1. re: hokie2009

            I usually use 1 3/4 cups of sugar to make a gallon of sweet tea. Don't forget the lemon slices.

    2. Sounds fun! I hope they're not too health-conscious.

      I would suggest getting some books - The Blue Willow Inn Bible of Southern Cooking and Mrs. Wilkes' Boarding House Cookbook. Oh, and I love Sylvia's Family Soul Food Cookbook, Paula Deen's cookbooks and Party Receipts from the Charleston Junior League.

      One of the highlights of southern food are the vegetables - peas, squash, corn, limas, beans, tomatoes, okra - I notice you have only meat on your list. I'm not sure if you want to go down-home or upscale, but I would skip the fried chicken (too obvious and people can get it at a fast food joint) and go with something like pulled BBQ pork. I think the Cajun-spiced beef roast would be popular and easy from a catering standpoint, as would Jambalaya. I agree with the PP's ideas of cornbread, coleslaw, greens, squash casserole, and the desserts and iced tea (Davwud's post made me so hungry!), but I know you are also trying to appeal to the palate of Californians as well as the constraints of catering (i.e., sometimes it's hard to fry food and take it somewhere).

      Another thing you could do is ham and biscuits, if you make the biscuits small enough, it can be a finger food. Baked macaroni and cheese is also popular.

      Frogmore Stew (also called Lowcountry boil in parts outside of SC) is probably too messy but is wonderful - you must try it sometime at home to entertain some close friends. If you were to serve a very tasty shrimp and grits, it would be something that people will talk about for a while.

      Instead of crudites you could serve pickled okra or pickled green beans - they are yummy!

      To Davwud's dessert suggestions I would add Red Velvet Cake or pound cake.

      Good luck! I would love to be there to see how it all turns out.

      1. Don't forget the deviled eggs. They're required for a Southern buffet.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kathleen purvis

          Yes, with sweet pickle relish in them.


        2. Brunswick stew is very southern and easy to do for a catering job.

          1. I think buttermilk bisuits are just as important as cornbread. The country ham biscuit is an ideal way to work them in. I would also add that I have eaten deviled eggs for a lifetime, and recently had some with crumbled bacon...WOW! Why did I not think of that before.

            Looks like you are on your way.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chapel Will

              Hey, that's my deviled egg recipe! ;) I like to add a little crumbled bacon and grated sharp cheddar cheese.

            2. Cheese straws!

              Finger sandwiches. I just went to a wedding that served the most simple of them all, but deee-lish...white bread, mayo & sliced tomatoes with just a dash of salt & pepper. They were about 2" diameter sandwiches so must have been roma tomatoes.
              These, along with the cheeses straws were served on silver platters with champagne after the vows were exchanged.

              And grits. The new thing in my area of Georgia, and possbily elsewhere, is to have a grits bar. A pot of thick, creamy grits with an assortment of toppings that the guests can choose from. Bacon, cheese, green onion, shrimp, tomatoes, etc.. At that same wedding they served it in martini glasses and called it Grits Martinis. OK, so that's a little over the top, but it made for perfect portions. (also made for a lot of glasses for the caterer to supply and wash!)
              Good luck!

              2 Replies
              1. re: weez

                The grits bar sounds like a hoot! That's a new one for me, but I'm betting it's already catching on at catered events in my neck of the woods.

                With respect to finger sandwiches, you can't forget pimento cheese, made from scratch, not any of the prepackaged stuff. It's a pretty simple recipe and very Southern.

                1. re: Low Country Jon

                  I saw the grits thing at a wedding this past weekend! Also, Paula Dean's pimento cheese recipe is out of this world!

              2. You can't get more Southern than the catfish that Davwud suggested. Fry up fingerling sized fillets in a cornmeal batter. Serve with hushpuppies, cole slaw, pickled onions slices, and fried dill pickles.

                Carmel cake and chess pie are favorite desserts in my Mississippi family.

                Other Southern staples that have not been mentioned --
                - tomato aspic
                - toasted pecans
                - water melon
                - pralines

                1. Boy, I really love Chowhounds! This is the second time I've come for help (needed a Chicago theme too for this client) and the hounds always come thru!

                  This function is for 1200 people, it can be buffet or seated, so here's what I'm going to propose:

                  (1) New Orleans buffet-Chicken po-boy sandwiches, Cajun spice rubbed beef roast, jambalaya, Cajun-Andouille sausages, spicy chicken wings, bbq baby back ribs, black-eyed pea salad, cornbread, pecan bites & sweet potato tartlets
                  (2) Southern Hospitality seated service-autumn salad w/apple cider vinaigrette (c/o Southern Hospitality Magazine), country fried chicken, sweet potato casserole, sauteed greens & creamed corn, cornbread, pecan pie

                  I may be mixing up some areas/cuisines but need to make this easy on our kitchen. It'll be a very busy week with this event.

                  Thanks again for all your suggestions!!!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: rednails

                    Might I suggest a slight and complete change to your po' boy.
                    My wife and I both love them as either oyster or grilled grouper. Admittedly, grouper would be easier for people to palate.
                    The other option (And the one I'd do) is to drop the po' boys and go with muffaletta. One of the single greatest sandwiches humans have come up with.


                    1. re: rednails

                      Corn needs to be silver queen, greens not sauteed but cooked with fat meat & serve the pot liquor with cracklin corn bread & pepper vinegar.

                    2. In October silver queen will be hard to find. I suppose frozen? Also a bit early for fresh greens, but once again I'm sure suppliers can get them from one latitude or another.
                      Totally agree with the pot "likker", cracklin corn bread & pepper vinegar.
                      I think option #2 above sounds great.