By Ginna Parsons
TUPELO – Two years ago when Dr. Frank Hodges was in the process of relocating his orthodontics office from an old house on Gloster Street to a new building in Fairpark, he often met with his design consultant over dinner.
“We talked about food all the time and finally she said, ‘We’re going to put a pizza oven in your new office,'” recalled Hodges, 34.
And so they did.
Now, once or twice a month, Hodges and his staff plan a pizza day, so his patients can have an after-school snack and their parents can nibble while they wait. They also use the oven to make cookies.
“Sometimes, my family comes up here after work and we cook pizza, but the main idea was to have fun with patients and their families,” he said. “I’ve gone full circle in finding a pizza dough that works for me. This is a no-knead pizza dough. You mix it and let it rise. It’s not very labor intensive. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I do like to experiment.”
Hodges, a fifth-generation Tupeloan, comes from a family of cooks. His father, Billy, is from a big Italian family while his mother, Judy, is a more traditional Southern cook.
“Every meal was spent talking about what we’d be having at the next meal or how we could have improved the one we were having,” he said. “All family holidays and events were based around big meals.”
Hodges really didn’t start cooking until he got his first apartment after college. After he and his wife, Kim, married 10 years ago, his interest grew steadily.
“I do the majority of the big meals at home,” he said. “I think I enjoy cooking more than she does. When we have a big dinner, it’s usually because I’ve destroyed the kitchen and gotten every pot and pan out.”
Many nights, the Hodges enjoy grilled steaks, baked potatoes and asparagus.
“My kids are getting more into eating some of the same stuff we do,” he said of 6-year-old Will and 3-year-old Mary. “We do a fair amount of pasta and make homemade ravioli a couple of times a year. Handmade pasta is a chore. My sister and I are trying to learn the ropes so we can do it on our own.”
Hodges’ new passion is barbecue. He’s joined a four-man team, called Hog Jam, and they’ve done a couple of amateur competitions, including one in Oxford last year.
“We got first place for ribs and third place for our Boston butt,” he said. “Brisket is what I’ve been tinkering with lately. We don’t take it real serious, but we think it’s fun to watch the ones that do.”
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 .email@example.com.