COOK OF THE WEEK: Retired cafeteria worker can’t stay out of school’s hospitality room

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Liz Beasley remembers the first thing she ever cooked: biscuits.
“One morning, my mother was fixing breakfast and she had some dough left and she let me have it and I made some biscuits,” said Beasley, 67. “She cooked them that morning along with hers. From then on, I cooked behind her. I just picked it up.”
Beasley grew up on a farm in Baldwyn. Her family raised cotton and corn and made sorghum. Most of the food they ate came from either the truck patch or the garden.
“When I was 10 years old, I cooked a full meal for the farmhands in the field,” she said. “I still remember it. I fixed peas, cornbread, pork chops, potatoes and iced tea. That was my first time to fix a dessert, too. Blackberry cobbler. It turned out all right. They ate it. I just jumped in there head-first and did it.”
And Beasley’s been cooking ever since.
She worked at Arnold’s restaurant in Baldwyn for 14 years, cooking and waiting tables. In 2006, she retired from the Booneville High School cafeteria. She worked there and at the cafeteria at Anderson Elementary school for more than 20 years.
“There’s kids at the high school now that say they won’t eat in the cafeteria because I’m gone,” she said. “I treated them like they were my own. I called them darlin’ or hon. They don’t forget that.”
While Beasley worked at the cafeteria, she was in charge of the hospitality room when there were school sports tournaments. She was responsible for providing food for the school’s coaches, visiting coaches and referees.
“The principal asked me when I got ready to retire from the cafeteria if I’d read the fine print and I said, ‘No sir.’ And he said, ‘It says you have to keep on in the hospitality room after you retire,’” Beasley joked.
The mother of two and grandmother of two stressed that she isn’t solely responsible for the hospitality room.
“I cook soup or stew or some kind of casserole,” said Beasley, who lives in Booneville with her husband of 47 years, Harold. “We do dips and desserts. But I have some help, too. The cheerleaders and the pompom squad – their parents help out a lot.”
Beasley also prepares food for her church, East Booneville Baptist Church, where she is the hostess committee chairman.
“I take mine in and set it down and they want to know what I brought,” she said. “I don’t ever have any left. They just eat it up. I reckon they like it.”
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 email them to ginna.parsons@journalinc.com