Cook of the Week: Nettleton man finds enjoyment cooking for family, festival

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

NETTLETON – Thomas Hall can thank God for his cooking skills.
After all, it was church that drew Hall into the kitchen in the first place.
“My mother was a good cook but I really didn’t start cooking until 1968,” said Hall, 61. “My brother was the cook here at Nettleton Pentecostal Church – he’s the one that got the Brotherhood started.”
The Brotherhood is a group of men who meet the fourth Sunday of every month to cook and have a program.
“We usually have sausage, ham, gravy, eggs and homemade biscuits,” Hall said. “My brother taught me to make the biscuits. I took over the biscuits after my brother died and now my son, Bruce, makes them.”
Hall said he believes one’s cooking ability is largely hereditary.
“Either you’ve got cooking in your genes or you don’t,” he said. “And I do. I love to cook because it’s a release to me, like gardening. I like to see how something is going to turn out and if people like it or not.”
When the three children of Hall and his wife, Geneva, were little, he was often the one who made the evening meal.
“My wife worked, too, and in the afternoons, she’d be doing stuff with the kids,” he said. “If I beat her home, I’d start supper. But my wife can cook, too, now. She can make a mean chocolate pie.”

Loner in the kitchen
Hall, who lives in Nettleton, probably has two cooking claims to fame: Sunday dinner and the Amory Railroad Festival.
“I cook Sunday dinner every week for about 11 people total,” said Hall, an installation foreman for Donald Allred Heating & Air Conditioning in Tupelo. “Most of my cooking is old-fashioned cooking. I do make a casserole every now and then.”
Hall starts the big meal – which includes a meat and three or four side dishes – about 7 o’clock on Sunday morning and finishes most of it up about 9:30, in time to head to church.
“I’ve got it going on,” he said. “I like to do it all by myself. My wife gets in my way.”
Hall also is instrumental in the food that is cooked and served at the annual railroad festival held in April.
“We cook about 175 to 200 pounds of Crock-Pot Barbecue,” he said. “The longer you cook it the better, and overnight is the best. Then you put your favorite barbecue sauce on it and some ketchup. I think that ketchup is the secret. We also cook pintos and cornbread. I tell you, we sell the fire out of that stuff.”

Do you know a good cook? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can fax them to (662) 842-2233 or e-mail them to ginna.parsons@journalinc.com.