All of Florida and beyond can now try the world’s best cheesecake

Hattiesburg, MS – 9/27/2023 – Cotton Blues Cheesecake Company, the beloved Mississippi-based bakery renowned for its delectable cheesecakes, is thrilled to announce that its mouthwatering Cheesecake Slices are now available at Publix Supermarkets across the Southeastern United States. This partnership marks an exciting milestone for Cotton Blues Cheesecake Company and Publix, as customers can now conveniently enjoy these decadent treats at their local grocery store.

Cotton Blues Cheesecake Company is known for its irresistible flavors and impeccable quality. Made with the finest ingredients and crafted with passion, these cheesecake slices have earned a devoted following across Mississippi, Texas, California, and beyond. With the addition of Publix to their retail partners, even more, dessert enthusiasts can experience the indulgence of Cotton Blues Cheesecake.

“We are thrilled to bring the taste of Cotton Blues Cheesecake to Publix customers,” said Chris Ortego, Founder and CEO of Cotton Blues Cheesecake Company. “Our cheesecakes are made with a secret recipe and a commitment to quality. We believe that everyone deserves a slice of happiness, and now, it’s easier than ever to enjoy our delicious cheesecakes at home.”

Partnering with Publix

Publix Supermarkets, known for their dedication to offering high-quality products, are excited to feature Cotton Blues Cheesecake Slices in their dessert section. The partnership aligns with Publix’s mission to provide customers with a wide variety of premium food options.

Cotton Blues Cheesecake Slices are available in various flavors, including Classic New York Style, Strawberry Swirl, and Blueberry Swirl, and Salted Caramel, ensuring a perfect option for every palate. Each slice is made with care, delivering a rich, creamy, irresistible experience.

About Cotton Blues:
Cotton Blues is a family-owned Mississippi bakery known for its exceptional cheesecakes. Since its inception, Cotton Blues has been dedicated to providing customers with delicious, made-from-scratch desserts using the finest ingredients. Their commitment to quality and tradition has earned them a loyal following, making their cheesecakes a cherished treat in Mississippi and beyond.

To have a Cotton Blues Cheesecake shipped straight from Mississippi to your door, visit Cotton Blues Goldbelly page.

Follow Cotton Blues Cheesecakes on Facebook, and Instagram

All Rights Reserved. Cotton Blues 2012-2023

Mississippi Made Cheesecake — shipped nationwide to your doorstep

Cotton Blues 4lb whole cheesecake is now shipping nationwide straight to your door.

The cheesecake, which has been named Mississippi’s best multiple times, separates itself from other cheesecakes with its top-secret recipe.

What’s the secret?

While Cotton Blues won’t reveal all of their cheesecake secrets they will admit that part of their trick is what’s not in it. They unapologetically use zero fillers in the cheesecake filling.

Cotton Blues Cheesecake Nationwide Shipping
Mississippi Made | New York Approved

“Fillers like cornstarch and flour can give the cheesecake a pasty aftertaste,” says Cotton Blues Pastry Chef Shaun Davis. We stay away from those.

Cotton Blues crafts their famous cheesecakes in small batches at their state of the art Cheesecake Kitchen in Waynesboro, Mississippi. Each cheesecake is scratch-made with just seven high-quality ingredients, including premium graham cracker crusts, and Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

The cheesecakes are rich and luscious on their own (Original), but even better when swirled with blueberry, strawberry, or sea-salted caramel.

Don’t believe us, just look at Cotton Blues cheesecake reviews on Tripadvisor and Yelp.

“Eating cheesecake at this restaurant has pretty much ruined me eating cheesecake anywhere else…it’s a problem” writes Lacey H.

Even MasterChef Champ Whitney Miller can’t get enough of Cotton Blues Cheesecake.

“If I’m not making dessert, then I want some of Shaun’s cheesecake,” says Miller. “If you’ve never had a Cotton Blues cheesecake, then you have to try it.”

Mississippi Made – New York Approved

“We were already selling a lot of our cheesecakes in grocery stores in the south,” says Cotton Blues Cheesecake owner Chris Ortego. But people all over the country have been begging us to ship them nationwide. So we partnered with Goldbelly, and we can now ship anywhere in the United States.”

Ortego is excited to share his “Mississippi Made – New York Approved” product with consumers in places like California, Washington, Colorado, and yes even New York.

“We’ve had several New Yorkers eat at our restaurant and tell us it was the best cheesecake they’ve ever had, so we consider that a huge compliment,” says Ortego.

To have a Cotton Blues Cheesecake shipped straight from Mississippi to your door, visit Cotton Blues Goldbelly page here.

Follow Cotton Blues Cheesecakes on Facebook, and Instagram

All Rights Reserved. Cotton Blues 2012-2020

Mississippi-Made meals in a safe and comfortable setting

Cotton Blues is proud to announce a major renovation that will give patrons several options for quality dining in the Hub City. 

Cotton Blues Kitchen & Marketplace is an ambitious project that will offer 

  • An outdoor commons for family picnics 
  • An assortment of fresh produce, artisan cheeses, and prepared groceries 
  • An outdoor kiosk for curbside pick-up 
  • Grab-and-go breakfast, lunch, and dinner 

The decision to transform current operations at the popular restaurant came from a desire to ensure guests in the Hub City can enjoy high-quality dining experiences safely. The current business climate presents a unique opportunity to reinvent Cotton Blues and move the brand towards a service model that is conducive to new regulations and will set a new standard of excellence as the region’s restaurant emerges from crisis.  

“We know many people are ready to dine in at our restaurant, we love that, and that’s not going away,” says Cotton Blues owner Chris Ortego. “But we also know many people are understandably cautious in this new world of COVID-19, so we’re designing a safe and comfortable setting for those that want to be cautious.”  

Eat & shop year round

  • Cotton Blues Kitchen: Guests will select chef-crafted meals-to-go, created by Chef Jordan Creel and Pastry Chef Shaun Davis, designed to satisfy any breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert cravings. From ready-to-heat to hot-and-ready comfort food, the new Cotton Blues Kitchen will ensure the highest quality food and beverage options. Popular current restaurant offerings including Blackened Fish Tacos, Chipotle Smoked BBQ Ribs, and Signature Cheesecake, will remain available for guests to enjoy every day. All meals will be available in multiple formats designed to feed everyone in the community.
  • Cotton Blues Marketplace: The open marketplace will allow guests to select locally sourced fare with quality ingredients and local products. The marketplace will include an assortment of farm-fresh produce as well as artisanal cheeses and prepared groceries that will make hosting a get-together stress-free.
  • Outdoor Patio and Picnic: This counter-to-table space will provide guests with a retreat-like area where they can enjoy Cotton Blues fare alongside family and friends. The outdoor patio and picnic areas are designed to give guests a comfortable fresh air setting with outdoor gaming options, neatly landscaped artificial grass and shaded sections to alleviate hot Mississippi days. 
Sketch of Outdoor Picnic Area
  • Contact-Free Ordering + Curbside Kiosk: For guests who desire quicker service or just want to minimize contact, an upgraded point of sales system will be available for guests to easily place orders through the website or via a mobile device. Guests will be able to place orders ahead of pick up or delivery if desired. The user-friendly system will also be compatible with contract-free payment applications, like Apple Pay. In addition to the adapted technology, a covered kiosk will be available in the parking lot for quick curbside carry out.

Opening Soon

Cotton Blues Kitchen & Marketplace will join the Hub City once again as an adapted concept fit for family and friends. All these fantastic upgrades will require Cotton Blues to close its doors for about a month of renovations. Cotton Blues will close on May 11 and will reopen as the Cotton Blues Kitchen and Marketplace in mid to late June 2020.

For more information on the transition or for updates visit or follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

All Rights Reserved. Cotton Blues 2012-2020

The secret to our spouts!

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves issued a shelter in place order for the entire state of Mississippi. We’re still offering meals for pick up and delivery during this time, but we also wanted to share one of our popular recipes to brighten your day. 

At Cotton Blues, we’ve made thousands of people fans of Brussells sprouts. Customers often tell us that they didn’t like Brussels Sprouts as a child, but once they tried our special Brown Butter and Mayhaw Brussels Sprouts, they became believers.

Now, we’re sharing this secret recipe. First, you’ll need to prep the brussels sprouts, mayhaw glaze, and brown butter; then you bring it all together. The full recipe is below.

If you’re craving some Cotton Blues, give us a call at 601.450.0510. We have plate specials for $10 and family meals $30-$50. See our full menu here.

Need more guidance?

We’ve also recorded this video if you would like to watch the process of cooking this amazing dish.

Enjoy the receipe and let us know how your sprouts turned out!

Temporary Menu during COVID-19

All Rights Reserved. Cotton Blues 2012-2020

Comfort food for when you need it | Call 601.450.0510

Hattiesburg, as we all adjust to the new ways of life required to fight COVID-19, we have decided to offer pre-cooked comfort food for you and your family. Beginning Wednesday March 18, we will offer prepped and ready to heat meals that you can purchase for a family of four. 

The meals will vary from day-to-day, but they will always be comforting family friendly staples like shepherd’s pie, lasagna, blackened chicken Alfredo pasta and others. Each fully-cooked meal will come in disposable aluminum pans that you can pop in the oven to heat at your convenience. 

We hope this will help break-up the monotony of cooking every day at home, and it may also provide home-cooked comfort for those on the front lines responding to the coronavirus or the elderly in need.

Each order will cost $50 plus tax, and will feed a family of four. We will also offer dessert upgrades where you can get our famous cheesecakes and pies at a discounted rate. 

Further, if you would like to order a meal as a thank you for your neighbors that are working tirelessly in the healthcare or retail/grocery industry, that can be arranged as well.  We can also deliver to anyone that may be medically vulnerable during this unprecendeted time.

How this will work

Each day, on our Facebook page, we will announce what we’re cooking.

The meals will be available for pick-up or delivery (if you live within our delivery area).

You’ll just need to call us at 601.450.0510

We will also continue to offer delivery and pick up of many of your favorite Cotton Blues dishes. You can learn more about that here.

Closing our dining room

We have decided to close our dining room. While it’s not required by local or state government at this time (March 17), we feel that closing our dining room will allow us to focus our energy on take-out and delivery. We also think it’s the safest way to distribute food to our community.

We know government officials will have to make a lot of difficult decisions with few practical options. We support each and every one of them.

Thank you for understanding. We look foward to your take-out and delivery orders and we can’t wait to switch back to the norm on the other side. 

we’ve expanded our temporary menu pick-up and delivery

single plate and family meals.

Temporary Menus as of 3/24/20

Daily comfort food family meals

We’ll also continue to offer our daily Comfort Food Family Meals, which we will announce on our Facebook page the night before they come available. These vary from day-to-day but will always be comforting family friendly staples like shepherd’s pie, chicken and dumplings, blackened chicken Alfredo pasta and others. Each fully-cooked meal will come in disposable aluminum pans that you can pop in the oven to heat at your convenience. 

Current Hours

Monday – Saturday — 11 am-7 pm
Sunday– 11 am-4 pm

Safety is our top priority

We know many of you have concerns about COVID-19 (Coronavirus). To make ordering food as safe as possible, we have decided to modify our menu and also offer delivery directly to you by our trusted Cotton Blues team.

Why are we doing this? 

As you may know, Cotton Blues has a lot of choices on our regular menu, and we cook just about everything from scratch. Doing so requires a large kitchen staff and a lot of prep work. By temporarily reducing our menu, we can provide a quality meal that will come in contact with as few people as possible. 

Further, providing in-house delivery by our trusted staff/waiters help us meet delivery demand and help us keep our staff employed through this unprecedented time. 

Where do we deliver?

We will only be delivering in the areas between Highway 49 and Highway 589. If you call to order, please give us a moment after obtaining your address so that we can confirm that you’re located in our delivery area.

How do I order?

By Phone

You can order delivery or carry-out by calling us directly at 601-450-0510 and selecting option 3. 

ChowNow App

You can order using our ChowNow with our app if you prefer. To download our ChowNow app, simply text the word “Cotton” to 33733 and follow the directions. Or you can download on your iPhone at this link.

If ordering with ChowNow, please be sure to select “DELIVERY INFO” from the limited menu and enter your address in the “Notes” field. If using the ChowNow app, we may call you to confirm your delivery address. Please take into consideration that the staff who will be delivering your food instead of serving you at the restaurant would greatly appreciate gratuities.

Thank you for your support in this unique situation, we will return to our full menu as soon as possible.

Like Pancakes? You could win Cotton Blues food for one year!

We’re giving 10 people a chance to compete for free Cotton Blues food for a year! 

On October 4th we will randomly select 10 entrants for an opportunity to compete in our Pulled Pork & Pancakes eating contest. The person to eat the most of our Pulled Pork & Pancakes in 10 minutes will be entitled to a free menu item at Cotton Blues, daily, for one year.

Enter Here

The competition will be held at Cotton Blues on Saturday, October 12, 2019. Selected entrants must check-in at Cotton Blues on October 12 at 11:00 am and be available to compete at noon.

Please do not enter if you are not available or willing to compete. The 10 selected entrants must also be willing to submit headshots for competition promotional material. 

Pulled Pork and Pancakes
Cotton Blues Pulled Pork & Pancakes

How do I enter?

Entering is easy and all we really ask for is your email address. It can be done quickly at this link!

Plus, there are multiple other ways to enter and increase your chances of being selected. All you have to do is read some of our stories and visit some of our social media pages.

Just follow the steps on the contest landing page.

What does free Cotton Blues food for one year mean?

We’re glad you asked! Free Cotton Blues for one year means that you will be able to come by Cotton Blues any day we’re open and order one item off of or menu. For Free!

This prize does not cover gratuity and anything beyond that one item is on you.

For example…

Hungry for our Blackened Redfish Tacos entree with a drink?

  • Blackened Redfish Tacos = Free
  • Drink and Gratuity = You pay

Have a craving for our Surf & Turf with a slice of Strawberry Icebox Pie?

  • Surf and Turf = Free
  • Strawberry Icebox Pie and Gratuity = You Pay

Want to take your whole family to Cotton Blues? Great! One item on your ticket will come at no charge.

NOTE: This prize may not be coupled with third party delivery services, such as Waitr or Grub Hub and the prize is not transferable to any other person.

When and how will you contact the winners?

We will contact all winners via email on October 4th. Once contacted we will want confirmation that you’re eligible to compete in the Pulled Pork and Pancake eating contest on Saturday, October 12th. This is the same day as the Southern Miss Homecoming, but no worries, game time is scheduled for 6:00 pm.

All ten winners will also be required to submit a headshot for contest promotional material. This is because we would like to share with our followers just who will be competing to win free Cotton Blues for a year.

If you’re selected and we do not hear back from you by October 6th, you will be disqualified and we will select a new entrant to take your spot.

The legal stuff

Contest Rules:

  1. Eligibility: This Campaign is open only to those who sign up at the Cottonblues Contest Page and who are 18 as of the date of entry. The Campaign is only open to legal residents of United States, and is void where prohibited by law. Employees of Cotton Blues, its affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, and suppliers, (collectively the “Employees”), and immediate family members and/or those living in the same household of Employees are not eligible to participate in the Campaign. The Campaign is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.
  2. Agreement to Rules: By participating, the Contestant (“You”) agree to be fully unconditionally bound by these Rules, and You represent and warrant that You meet the eligibility requirements. In addition, You agree to accept the decisions of Cotton Blues as final and binding as it relates to the content of this Campaign.
  3. Campaign Period: Entries will be accepted online starting September 13, 2019 and ending on October 4, 2019. All online entries must be received by October 4, 2019 .
  4. How to Enter: The Campaign must be entered by submitting an entry using the online form provided at The entry must fulfill all Campaign requirements, as specified, to be eligible to win a prize. Entries that are incomplete or do not adhere to the rules or specifications may be disqualified at the sole discretion of Cotton Blues. You may not enter more times than indicated by using multiple email addresses, identities, or devices in an attempt to circumvent the rules. If You use fraudulent methods or otherwise attempt to circumvent the rules, your submission may be removed from eligibility at the sole discretion of Cotton Blues.
  5. Prizes: The Winner of the Campaign (the “Winner”) will receive One year of Cotton Blues. Actual/appraised value may differ at time of prize award. The specifics of the prize shall be solely determined by Cotton Blues. No cash or other prize substitution shall be permitted except at Cotton Blues discretion. The prize is nontransferable. Any and all prize-related expenses, including without limitation any and all federal, state, and/or local taxes, shall be the sole responsibility of Winner. No substitution of prize or transfer/assignment of prize to others or request for the cash equivalent by Winner is permitted. Acceptance of prize constitutes permission for Cotton Blues to use Winner’s name, likeness, and entry for purposes of advertising and trade without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.
  6. Odds: The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.
  7. Winner Selection and Notification: Winner will be selected by Judge under the supervision of Cotton Blues.  Cotton Blues shall have no liability for Winner’s failure to receive notices due to spam, junk e-mail or other security settings or for Winner’s provision of incorrect or otherwise non-functioning contact information. If Winner cannot be contacted, is ineligible, fails to claim the prize within On October 12 from the time award notification was sent, or fails to timely return a completed and executed declaration and release as required, the prize may be forfeited and an alternate Winner selected. Receipt by Winner of the prize offered in this Campaign is conditioned upon compliance with any and all federal, state, and local laws and regulations. ANY VIOLATION OF THESE OFFICIAL RULES BY WINNER (AT Cotton Blues‘S SOLE DISCRETION) WILL RESULT IN WINNER’S DISQUALIFICATION AS WINNER OF THE CAMPAIGN, AND ALL PRIVILEGES AS WINNER WILL BE IMMEDIATELY TERMINATED.
  8. Rights Granted by You: By entering this contest, You understand and agree that Cotton Blues, anyone acting on behalf of Cotton Blues, and Cotton Blues’s licensees, successors, and assigns, shall have the right, where permitted by law, to print, publish, broadcast, distribute, and use in any media now known or hereafter developed, in perpetuity and throughout the World, without limitation, your entry, name, portrait, picture, voice, likeness, image, statements about the Campaign, and biographical information for news, publicity, information, trade, advertising, public relations, and promotional purposes. without any further compensation, notice, review, or consent. Optional verbiage for Contests: By entering this contest, You represent and warrant that your entry is an original work of authorship, and does not violate any third party’s proprietary or intellectual property rights. If your entry infringes upon the intellectual property right of another, You will be disqualified at the sole discretion of Cotton Blues. If the content of your entry is claimed to constitute an infringement of any proprietary or intellectual proprietary rights of any third party, You shall, at your sole expense, defend or settle against such claims. You shall indemnify, defend, and hold harmless Cotton Blues from and against any suit, proceeding, claims, liability, loss, damage, costs or expense, which Cotton Blues may incur, suffer, or be required to pay arising out of such infringement or suspected infringement of any third party’s right.
  9. Terms & Conditions: Cotton Blues reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Campaign should virus, bug, non-authorized human intervention, fraud, or other cause beyond Cotton Blues’s control corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, or proper conduct of the Campaign. In such case, Cotton Blues may select the Winner from all eligible entries received prior to and/or after (if appropriate) the action taken by Cotton Blues. Cotton Blues reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operation of the Campaign or website or violates these Terms & Conditions. Cotton Blues has the right, in its sole discretion, to maintain the integrity of the Campaign, to void votes for any reason, including, but not limited to: multiple entries from the same user from different IP addresses; multiple entries from the same computer in excess of that allowed by Campaign rules; or the use of bots, macros, scripts, or other technical means for entering. Any attempt by an entrant to deliberately damage any website or undermine the legitimate operation of the Campaign may be a violation of criminal and civil laws. Should such attempt be made, Cotton Blues reserves the right to seek damages to the fullest extent permitted by law.
  10. Limitation of Liability: By entering, You agree to release and hold harmless Cotton Blues and its subsidiaries, affiliates, advertising and promotion agencies, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers, and directors from any liability, illness, injury, death, loss, litigation, claim, or damage that may occur, directly or indirectly, whether caused by negligence or not, from: (i) such entrant’s participation in the Campaign and/or his/her acceptance, possession, use, or misuse of any prize or any portion thereof; (ii) technical failures of any kind, including but not limited to the malfunction of any computer, cable, network, hardware, or software, or other mechanical equipment; (iii) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions, telephone, or Internet service; (iv) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Promotion; (v) electronic or human error in the administration of the Promotion or the processing of entries.
  11. Disputes: THIS Campaign IS GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF United States AND Mississippi, WITHOUT RESPECT TO CONFLICT OF LAW DOCTRINES. As a condition of participating in this Campaign, participant agrees that any and all disputes that cannot be resolved between the parties, and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Campaign, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, exclusively before a court located in Mississippi  having jurisdiction. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances shall participant be permitted to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to, punitive, incidental, or consequential damages, including reasonable attorney’s fees, other than participant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (i.e. costs associated with entering this Campaign). Participant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.
  12. Privacy Policy: Information submitted with an entry is subject to the Privacy Policy stated on the Cotton Blues website.
  13. Sponsor: The Sponsor of the Campaign is Cotton Blues .
  14. Facebook: The Campaign hosted by Cotton Blues is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook.
  15. By participating in the contest, You, the Contestant, have affirmatively reviewed, accepted, and agreed to all of the Official Rules & Regulations.

“If it’s not your idea, it’s not original, why do it?”

When Cotton Blues, in Hattiesburg Mississippi first opened in 2012, chicken and waffles were a fast-growing food trend for restaurants around the country.

Cotton Blues owner, Chris Ortego says they had a few requests for chicken and waffles, but a large chain restaurant opened across the street and they had chicken and waffles on their menu.

“I could not bring myself to put chicken and waffles on the menu, says Ortego. “It seems like it was a copycat idea. We get it, we get the sweet and savory contrast, but if it’s not your idea, it’s not original, why do it?”

Hitting that Sweet & Savory Spot

Being an ambassador of Southern Cuisine, Ortego wanted to find that same sweet and savory flavor profile but make it their own. They floated around several ideas and one of their managers tossed out the idea of pulled pork and pancakes.

“It sounds weird when you first hear about it. But we eat pulled pork sandwiches all the time, so why not eat it on a pancake.”

Chris Ortego, Cotton Blues Owner

“It’s one of those things that people see on the menu, and they get curious about it right away,” says Ortego. “It sounds weird when you first hear about it. But we eat pulled pork sandwiches all the time, so why not eat it on a pancake.”

Ortego says that there’s something about the tangy and spicy bbq pulled pork blending with the syrup and the sweetness of the pancake. “Customers love them.”

“It just couldn’t have fit us any better. We were already doing pancakes for brunch. We had a perfect pancake recipe, and we already had pulled pork.”

Weighing in at right under three pounds.

The portion of the pulled pork and pancakes are over the top. “Only a hand full of people that have eaten the entire dish,” says Ortego.

The pork and pancakes combined with a side come in at just under three pounds of food.

Ortego says they have not turned eating the full dish into a challenge yet. But he is willing to throw in a free dessert to whoever can finish the dish while at the restaurant.

Don’t think you can finish? The good news is that the pulled pork and pancakes microwave well the next day.

All Rights Reserved. Cotton Blues 2012-2019.

Strawberry Icebox Pie — Lemon Icebox Pie’s Evil Twin

The Strawberry Icebox Pie is one of the best selling desserts at Cotton Blues Restaurant in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. It’s light, creamy and bursting with fresh strawberries. But this amazing dessert almost failed to make it out of our test kitchen.

It has to be exact, or it doesn’t work

Chris Ortego Cotton Blues
Chris Ortego – Owner, Cotton Blues

Cotton Blues Owner, Chris Ortego, has a theory when it comes to cooking and baking.

“Cooking is an art, and it’s a flair,” says Ortego. “Baking is a science, and it has to be exact, or it just doesn’t work.”

Mississippi pastry chef, Shaun Davis who was trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas has been working with Ortego for seven years, and he’s responsible for executing all the desserts at Cotton Blues.

“You need acidity, you need alkalinity, you need air,” says Davis.

In 2013, Ortego wanted to add some new desserts to the menu. At the time, the popular Mississippi restaurant was already well known for their Lemon Icebox Pie, and they were hoping to convert that success into a strawberry icebox pie.

Ortego says they found a recipe for a Strawberry Icebox Pie online, but it called for making it with gelatin, an ingredient neither Ortego nor Davis were fond of using.

So Ortego asked Davis, how does a Lemon IceBox Pie work?

Davis said “Sweetened condensed milk is the main ingredient of it, so it needs something to thicken it. In Lemon Icebox it’s the acidity of the lemon juice that cooks part of the eggs and makes the condensed milk a lot thicker.”

Unfortunately, strawberries don’t have an acidic quality, so creating a strawberry icebox with the same methodology is nearly impossible.

Never say never

Cotton Blues Pastry Chef
Shaun Davis – Cotton Blues Pastry Chef

Alway up for a challenge, Davis spent some time brainstorming on how to make a strawberry icebox pie a success.

“He starts looking around, and he comes back with a bottle of red wine vinegar,” says Ortego.

Davis mixed the vinegar into the condensed milk to give it an acidic agent.

And it worked!

“We try it, and it’s wonderful!” says Ortego. They were ready to put it on the menu.

A punch in the gut

The next day, Ortego and Davis come back in and the pie is swimming in two inches of strawberry juice.

The strawberries bled out and ruined the pie.

“I was so disappointed,” said Ortego, “I told Shaun that this was such a good dessert and that it stinks that this isn’t going to work.”

If at first you don’t succeed…

Shaun just said, “Give me some time.”

“It needed a little bit more thickening power,” said Davis.

So Davis tried tossing the fresh chopped strawberries in cornstarch. And Voila!

“That [the cornstarch] keeps all the strawberries from bleeding out, said Ortego. “Combine that with what Shaun did with the vinegar and it’s pure brilliance!”

“As popular as our lemon is, I think the strawberry is a little bit better, but it just shows that this stuff doesn’t happen by accident, says Ortego. “That Strawberry Icebox is a Shaun Davis original, and it’s fantastic!”

All Rights Reserved. Cotton Blues 2012-2019.

Dedication and Determination

Jordan Creel did not always know he wanted to be a chef. In his early 20s, Creel worked in a few chain restaurants in Hattiesburg, where he says he grew tired of opening up bags of sauce and throwing them in the microwave. Creel wanted more, “If I’m going to do it, I might as well go somewhere and learn to cook and really do it,” says Creel. So in 2013, he applied as a line cook at Cotton Blues, which specializes in southern cuisine in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Five years and a lot of determination later, the young cook climbed his way to top. He’s now the top chef at TripAdvisor’s number one restaurant for local cuisine in Hattiesburg.

Cotton Blues owner, Chris Ortego, says Creel is the best chef the restaurant has ever had. “One of his biggest assets is his work ethic and professionalism,” says Ortego. “From day one, he outworked his coworkers, and he eventually started outworking his chef predecessors. So, when it was time for a change in the kitchen, the whole crew knew that it was Jordan’s time.”

Thanks to crowdsourcing apps like TripAdvisor and Yelp, Ortego knows Cotton Blues has an opportunity to showcase southern cuisine. Many of their guests are people traveling to New Orleans or the beaches in Florida.

“It’s really apparent during the summertime. I think because we celebrate the southern kitchen we get an opportunity to represent the great food South Mississippi has to offer,” says Ortego.

Southern Food Hattiesburg Mississippi

Started From the Bottom

When Creel began at Cotton Blues in 2013, he started with what he already knew, the deep fryers. But he couldn’t sit idle.

“I had kinda made up my mind if I was going to come over here, then I was going to try to learn to cook, so I just started watching whatever I could.”

Creel observed the veterans in the kitchen. Men and women who have been working in professional kitchens for decades, but he didn’t stop there. The aspiring chef would work long hours in a hot South Mississippi kitchen, and then go home and practice some more. He immersed himself in cookbooks and experimented with different recipes.

“In a world where everyone is concerned about what the other person is doing. Jordan keeps his head down, does his job and does it well,” says Ortego.

Colleague and Cotton Blues Pastry Chef, Shaun Davis, says he isn’t sure the general public realizes how much work and effort Jordan and his crew put into each dish.

“For example, a pan-roasted chicken with carrots and mac and cheese. We get whole organic chickens in, we have to break that chicken down,” says Davis.

And Davis says the carrots are not as simple as pulling them out and putting them in a pan. “A prep cook had to take those carrots, peel them, slice them, blanch them. So it doesn’t take 30 minutes for you to get your entree.”

Davis says the mac and cheese is the same way. They had to boil the mac, chop up all the vegetables that will be mixed in, sautee them, and prep the cream mixture.

“And then you have to time it so that everything comes out right,” says Davis. “It’s pretty amazing what they pull off day after day in that kitchen.”

Keeping it local

Southern Cuisine Hattiesburg MississippiCreel was born and raised in Oak Grove Mississippi, just a couple of miles from where Cotton Blues resides. His earliest memory of cooking goes back to when he could smell his mom’s eggplant parmesan as a child. But in hindsight, he wished he learned to cook earlier in life.

“I didn’t get a lot of exposure to food growing up there [in Oak Grove]. My mom and my grandma would cook a lot, but usually, it was the same dishes over and over again” But when it comes to the culinary choices in Hattiesburg, Creel says he loves watching the area grow.

“I like it. It seems like there are fewer chains around now. There are more places like us that do everything from scratch.”

Creel says the older he gets, the more important it is to be close to home. As for Cotton Blues owner, Chris Ortego, he loves that he has two great chefs that are homegrown in South Mississippi and know how to make some incredible southern cuisine.

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