By Justin Reedy
When Emma Godbee started making her sweet potato souffl? about 10 years ago for friends and family members, she never dreamed she'd be serving it to hundreds of people at a community event.
Godbee, a Riverdale resident and amateur chef, will be one of about 30 individuals and businesses giving away samples of their food at this weekend's Taste of Clayton festival at Stately Oaks in Jonesboro. She got corralled into the event, a fund-raiser for the Historical Jonesboro society, after talking about her tasty sweet potato recipe to her friend Barbara Emert, a member of Historical Jonesboro.
"You know how cooks brag a bit about their food sometimes?" Godbee said. "Well, I guess I bragged a bit too much."
So on Friday, she'll be rubbing elbows with professionals from restaurants around the Southern Crescent, including Ray J's Barbecue, Outback Steakhouse and City Caf?.
That could be a little intimidating for someone whose cooking experience is limited to whipping up dishes for her family, co-workers and friends, but Godbee isn't worried. Her dish n which she makes by baking sweet potatoes, mashing them up and baking them like a casserole with a brown sugar and pecan topping n has been wildly popular with everyone who's tried it.
"If people who eat it at my home or at work are any indication, it should go over well," Godbee said. "Because whenever I make it, it's always gone. The dish is empty."
In addition to Godbee's sweet potato souffl?, festival goers will get a chance to sample other local cuisine, such as the food from My Sister's Place, a Southern food restaurant on Stockbridge Road in Jonesboro. This will be the second Taste of Clayton for sisters Dallas Matthews and Angie Loehne, who opened the restaurant last year.
"I think Taste of Clayton went really well for us last year," Matthews said. "We met a lot of people in the community out there. This year, there will probably be a more familiar faces, but it's nice to be involved in something that's part of the community."
The sisters will be preparing some of the same dishes they took to Taste of Clayton last year, including minestrone soup, potato and cheddar soup, egg salad and homemade cookies. That should make their booth a popular one after how well their signature key lime cookies were received last year.
"We're definitely going to have the key lime cookies again," Loehne said with a chuckle.
The event will also feature food samples from the Buckhead Brewery and Grill, Sidney's Casual and Fine Dining, Blue Bell Creamery, Gregory's Steakhouse, Baker's Acres, B.J.'s, Holiday Inn South, Nantze Springs, Tastefully Simple, The Culinary Doctor and celebrity chef Jim Wood. It will also include live music and entertainment from the Sweet Inspirations, the Honey Creek Boys and magician Abb Dickson.
The event, which lasts from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, is being held on the grounds of Stately Oaks, a plantation home and compound built in 1839 that is now run by Historical Jonesboro.
"I think this is a perfect opportunity for people to get a great introduction to Stately Oaks," said Emert. "They can come in and sample food and tour the grounds. We'll have the house open for people to walk through, and they can also see the school house, the old country store and the blacksmith shop. This is just a real comfortable way to come and visit Jonesboro and Stately Oaks."
The proceeds from the event go to Historical Jonesboro and its continuing efforts to preserve historical property in Clayton County, such as Stately Oaks, the Old Jail in Jonesboro and the Gayden House near First Baptist Church of Jonesboro.
Tickets are $18 in advance or $20 at the gate, while tickets for seniors 55 and older are $15, and children 3 and under get in free. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (770) 473-0197.