Fannie Johnson took a break from her regular duties as executive director of L.O.V.E.’s Kitchen to welcome a celebrity chef to the establishment Wednesday.
Rushion McDonald, an award-winning baker and executive producer of “The Steve Harvey Show,” came to the soup kitchen as a result of Johnson winning the Perfect Home Baking Experience.
Johnson learned about the contest while searching on a popular social media page, and chose to share the prize with L.O.V.E.’s Kitchen. When she received the call from McDonald telling her she’d won the contest, her one request was for him to come to where she worked, instead of her home.
“I have been writing thank you letters for nine years, and sometimes I just don’t know how to say thank you anymore,” Johnson said. “So, this was a way for me to say thank you from a celebrity, and brag about our community. I wanted somebody other than me to know what is going on here.”
While preparing some of his desserts, McDonald showed Johnson how to use the Signature Edition Perfect Bake PRO Scale and Recipe App she won as part of the contest. The device uses no measuring cups or spoons and can connect via blue tooth to an IOS or Android device.
“I want people to realize technology is changing in the kitchen,” McDonald said. “The baking device is perfect, and I use it all the time to prepare my desserts.”
During the day, McDonald served his desserts to the L.O.V.E.’s Kitchen’s clients, before of a VIP reception and open house event. On the menu was a host of delectable Southern-inspired desserts from McDonald’s recipe collection: sweet potato pie, pineapple upside down cake, red velvet cupcakes, brown sugar monkey bread, coconut cake and caramel apple pecan cheesecake.
“These are desserts I remember as a kid growing up, except they are my own invention, and style,” McDonald said. “With my desserts, I use things people wouldn’t normally use. I use canned peaches, apples, yams because it allows you to go in, bake it quickly, and get out.”
Johnson’s sister, Ella Myers, was on hand during McDonald’s visit.
“I think she needs to cook some of these desserts for us,” Myers said. “The desserts are delicious.”
Meridian native Mary Brunson, who has been following McDonald on social media for close to two years, said she enjoyed his visit to Meridian Wednesday.
“I love how he gives back to the public – he answers questions about business, teaches you how to believe in yourself and that nothing is unreachable,” Brunson said. “He is a true Southern gentleman and never goes anywhere empty handed.He cares, he’s open and eager to share his knowledge. He wants communities to be better, and encourages people to use all their talents, not to mention he is an awesome cook.”
For Johnson, McDonald’s visit to the Queen City wasn’t just about cooking. She said the baker shared a wealth of valuable business expertise while he was in town.
“While on the media tour this week, not only did we cook on tv – where I caught myself licking the monkey bread off my fingers, but Rushion took the time to speak with local business owners,” Johnson said. “They received advice from someone who has been in the business for years, and I got sweets for the kitchen. It was a win-win all around for everyone. I couldn’t top that if I tried.”