Dothan chef, family share special ties to National Peanut Festival
DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Kathy Adams Phillips knows a thing or two about food.
“I think because it connects you to family. You can taste certain foods and it brings me right back to childhood,” she says, “and everyone in my family loves cooking.”
That love of cooking intertwines with the National Peanut Festival, and Kathy’s paternal grandmother, Broma Adams.
“She hosted a luncheon for the Miss Peanut contestants. She did that every year and when she did that, there weren’t a lot of things that the contestants were involved with, it was the contest, and it was the luncheon. So that was a way for them to get to know one another,” Phillips explains.
Every item on the menu at that luncheon was prepared by Mrs. Adams, who also served as a chaperone and mentor for many contestants.
“If you didn’t have confidence, you could spend ten minutes with her and you would feel like you could conquer the world,” says Phillips.
That encouragement stuck with Kathy, who is now an established chef with a large following for her “Kathy’s Southern Kitchen” series.
Being an encourager came in handy for Broma Adams in the 1960s, when she was put in charge of the recipe contests for the festival.
“She really worked hard getting people involved in the cooking contests. My grandmother Adams was great with events.” Phillips says. “It’s kind of funny to look back at how hard it was for her to get people involved in the recipe contests but it was!”
Eventually, the contest gained traction and has grown in the years since.
“I know grandmama would be so proud because you have hundreds of participants from elementary students to people my age and older!” says Phillips. “It’s nice to see how it’s evolved and how far it’s come.”
In 1993, The National Peanut Festival purchased 150 acres of land from Mrs. Adams. It continues to be held there to this day. It was the festival before Grandma Adams’s death that was, perhaps, her most memorable one.
“She was the grand marshal in 1998 I believe, and it was one of the highlights of her life because she had served all those years. It was just a way that she was honored,” Phillips says.
Kathy Phillips says she always remembers this advice from her grandmother and offers it to anyone who steps into the kitchen.
“Stay with it. If at first, you don’t succeed try, try again,” she says. “So many times we get in the kitchen and it might not have turned out just the way you wanted it to. If she left out an ingredient, you would never know it she always presented it like it was the best it ever was, and people will follow suit.”
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