Notably, like many of your favorite movies, TV shows and chart-topping hits—there are those that are classics and designated as off limits. Any remake, remix or reboot to these fan faves could never compare to the original. So why even try?
The same is understood for your favorite foods. Think potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and many others. Just one twist to the recipe and it’s a viral disruption—but local culinary creative Chef Cassy Jones does not care. Taking the 2019 State Fair of Texas by storm, Jones has artfully twisted classics into fried collard greens, in addition to her latest, peanut butter and jelly chicken wings. It’s safe to say, that the sky is the limit for the self-proclaimed “out of the box” star.
After appearances on Guy’s Grocery Games on the Food Network and The Cooking Channel’s Carnival Eats, we decided to make a pit stop at Chef Cassy’s State Fair booth to get the real scoop behind her creations and to gather what else is in store. We invite you to read on for the dish.
Inspire N Style: You have a really inspiring story. So many trials and hardships, yet here you are with the biggest smile on your face. Tell us a little bit about your background.
Chef Cassy Jones: “I have five kids so I ran my own daycare for 15 years. My oldest daughter was born with cerebral palsy so I ran a specialized daycare because traditional daycare centers wouldn’t take some of the kids with disabilities. I had children that had heart murmurs, special needs, etc. I then did specialized foster care for five years for two biological brothers who were both in wheelchairs. One of the brothers passed away in my home after I had him for about three and a half years and the other brother — his aunt removed him from my home when I started my business which was so sad.”
So at some point and at the age of 40 you began your culinary career. What was that like as a second career change?
“So I started cooking in the kitchen since I was 10 with my mom and grandma. Mom comes from a family of seven girls and they can all cook really well. I went to culinary school and then I started catering for my family on the weekends, and then for their neighbors and so on and so on. One day I catered a party for the City of Cedar Hill and a lady there had my fried collard greens and she said ‘This is the best fried food I’ve ever had in my life. Have you ever thought about entering into that fried food contest at the Fair?’ I was like ‘no’ and she was like ‘You should.’”
And I guess the rest was history right? But pause. Fried collard greens?! I’m sure you got a lot of strange looks for that one!
“I’m known for the fried collard greens. That’s my signature dish at the Fair. I actually cook the greens on top of the stove, drain off the juice, mix in some cream cheese and put them in a wonton wrapper. So it’s a crispy shell outside, and then inside there’s seasoned greens. A lot of times when people have the greens I hear ‘Oooh-wee’, or ‘Oh my God’ or they totally start dancing.”
So this was your 7th year at the State Fair and the fried collards are the staple. You took it a step further with the new PB&J chicken wings. Please tell us how this came to be.
“A lot of people will hear [PB&J wings] and they’ll frown and say [fried chicken and PB&J] don’t go together…but peanut butter and jelly brings back childhood memories and it’s nostalgic so why not have it?
Every kid loves peanut butter and jelly so I thought…how would this be on chicken? It’s sweet—chicken is salty – so sweet and salty always mixes well together, so I drizzled it on top. It’s a glaze with melted creamy peanut butter with jelly, a little bit of butter, and some seasoning. When the chicken comes out the fryer you just drizzle it right over the top and it’s really good!”
But seriously do you cook anything normal?
We fry chicken four different ways: plain, honey pecan glaze (my favorite), spicy with buffalo sauce with ranch seasoning sprinkled on top, and of course the new, peanut butter and jelly chicken wings.
Now that the State Fair is over, what can people get their hands on from you? We hear you do catering and travel to area businesses?
“We cater to schools, corporate locations, and more. We do everything from burgers and fries to chicken salad on a croissant to grilled cheese for the kids—we always customize menus for clients. We’ve done Mexican food, Italian food, Cajun and American. We have a custom built smoker on a trailer, so we can do a lot of BBQ. My husband does jerk chicken, jerk brisket, jerk turkey legs and jerk ribs.”
From your beer-marinated fried catfish fillet to your alligator nest to the PB&J wings, we can’t choose a favorite. But the fried collards however—those need to be frozen and sold at the store!
“That’s so funny. Everyone says we should sell it in the store.”
Well maybe, just maybe, that’s the next out-of-the-box adventure for the talented chef. Only time will tell. To learn more about Chef Cassy or to see how you can capture the creativity from her culinary adventures, visit www.ChefCassy.com.