Special Event
Lee Craven
Lee Craven

Lee Craven
Morgan Freeman’s Madidi | Clarksdale, MS

Thursday, August 5, 7:00 pm
Members $90, guests $115

“The essence of Southern cooking lies in its simplicity. That, and its ability to transport you ‘home’ no matter how far from there you may wander.” That’s Madidi’s executive chef Lee Craven speaking, and he knows. A Florence, Alabama, native who traveled north for his culinary training, Craven presides over a restaurant co-owned by actor Morgan Freeman, who also left his native Mississippi as a teenager and traveled the world for decades before returning to make the Delta his permanent home some 15 years ago.

Located in Clarksdale—home of the fabled crossroads where the devil is said to lurk looking to exchange blues guitar skills for the souls of the hopeful—Madidi is named for a nature reserve in Bolivia that’s been noted for its stunning biodiversity. Freeman and his co-owner Bill Luckett, a local attorney, originally opened the place to save themselves a long drive to Memphis or Oxford when hit with the urge for fine cuisine. Now going on its fifth successful year, Madidi thrills Delta dwellers and visiting blues pilgrims alike with its upscale Southern fare, tinged with classical French and restrained Mediterranean influences.

Tim Sampson, of Memphis magazine, praised Madidi’s cuisine under former chef David Krog, promising, “The food is worth the hour-and-ten minute drive through the Delta.” More recently, Jim Harris noted in the Arkansas Times, “The kitchen, under the guidance of Chef Lee Craven…obviously put much effort and attention to detail into each [dish]…Along with the exquisitely tender pen-raised duck, some of our highlights included a ravishingly rich shrimp bisque with a balsamic vinegar drizzle, cornmeal fried oysters with a brandy cream sauce, a large top-of-the-line filet of beef…Even the cole slaw that came with the fried oyster appetizer was different and delicious.”

Craven, who was the last to interview for the chef job at Madidi, beat out some of the region’s top culinary talents, no small feat for a chef who is still in his mid-20s. Before he arrived in Clarksdale, Craven spent three years at Memphis’ Chez Philippe under the direct tutelage of chef Jose Gutierrez, one of only 52 American chefs certified as a Maîtres Cuisiniers de France. Craven graduated with honors from the CIA in 2000, and has been cooking professionally since his early teenage years.

Pickled Oysters with Fire-Roasted Red Peppers

Crawfish Beignets

Mississippi Farm-Raised Catfish Pâté

Confiture of Rabbit with Chestnut Spoon Bread

Jordan J Sparkling Wine NV

Delta Crispy Shrimp with Aunt Clementine Dust

Chateau Ste. Michelle Johannisberg Riesling 2003

Stone Crab Claw Turnover with Mississippi Lemon Butter

Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio 2003

Coahoma County Farm-Raised Striped Bass with Hominy and Green Tomato Gravy

McWilliams Harwood Estate Chardonnay 2002

Three Hour–Braised Pork Cheeks à l’Orange with Stone-Ground Grits

Louis Jadot Pinot Noir 2000

Roasted Breast of Duck with Creamy Black-Eyed Peas, Cranberry Reduction, Truffle Essence, and Crispy Collard Greens

LaCrema Pinot Noir 2001

Nanny’s Pound Cake with Vanilla Custard, Muscadine Sorbet, and Muscato Syrup

Weltevrede Estate Muscat de Hambourg 2002

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