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Flora-Bama chef will bring a taste of the Alabama Gulf to Bessemer’s Bright Star

The Bright Star restaurant is hosting its first Seafood Fest later this month, featuring guest chef Chris Sherrill of the Flora-Bama Yacht Club in Perdido Key.

Sherrill will prepare a four-course wine dinner at the Bright Star on Wed., Oct. 29, and he will serve an a la carte menu on Thur., Oct. 30.

Bright Star general manager Andreas Anastassakis met Sherrill on a deep-sea fishing trip to Gulf Shores this summer, and after they got to talking, Sherrill said he was a big fan of the 107-year-old Bessemer restaurant.

“He said, ‘That’s my mother-in-law’s favorite restaurant; when we used to live in Birmingham, we used to eat there every Sunday,'” Anastassakis recalls their conversation. “Then he said, ‘I’d love to come and cook and be a guest chef at the Bright Star one day.'”

After exchanging a few text messages, Anastassakis and Sherrill put the Bright Star Seafood Fest together.

“He has a great knowledge for Alabama’s Gulf seafood,” Anastassakis says. “I think he’ll bring some of that Gulf flair up to the Bright Star. It’s a real exciting menu.”

An Alabama native, Sherrill was born and raised in Eufaula, where his interest in cooking was kindled on camping trips with the Boy Scouts. After winning a national high school contest for his recipe for fruit-stuffed quail with orange-cranberry sauce, he earned a culinary scholarship to Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, S.C.

In 2012, Sherrill was part of a delegation of eight Gulf Coast chefs who cooked for U.S. athletes and their families during the Summer Olympics in London.

Sherrill is the executive chef and co-owner of the Flora-Bama Yacht Club, an open-air waterfront restaurant located across the street from the legendary Flora-Bama Lounge & Oyster Bar.

The Bright Star is at 304 19th St. North in Bessemer, and the website is
To read the entire article and see the menus, go to:

State tourism website features Fall Color Map

An interactive map on the Alabama Tourism Department’s website allows visitors to see the predicted fall color change for each weekend this fall. The map, a list of recommended viewing sites and a fall colors driving route are all available on the state tourism website at

Large concentrations of hardwoods make Alabama State Parks some of the best places to enjoy the fall color change. Joe Wheeler has an excellent viewing spot next to the dam and near the cabin area on the Lawrence County side. Autumn scenery can be found at DeSoto State Park at Little River Canyon and DeSoto Falls. Monte Sano has views of the Tennessee Valley along the Warpath Ridge Trail and its overlook. Cheaha’s Bald Rock and Pulpit Rock trails both have excellent views. Cheaha is the highest point in the state at 2,407 feet above sea level.
With cooler days and lower humidity, autumn hosts a variety of outdoor festivals. Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department, recommends several events designed around being outdoors and enjoying the fall weather.

Outdoor events scheduled for this fall include the Southern Reinvention festival at Belle Chevre goat cheese creamery in Elkmont on Oct. 18. The city of Mentone celebrates its annual Colorfest on Oct. 18-19 with a weekend of arts & crafts, family activities and live entertainment.

The Alabama Renaissance Fair in Florence on Oct. 25-26 transforms the city’s downtown park into a medieval experience. The National Peanut Festival in Dothan on Oct. 31- Nov. 9 is the nation’s largest peanut festival. The Pike Road Arts and Crafts Festival in the city of Pike Road on Nov. 1 features an arts and crafts market on the grounds of the historic 19th century Marks House.

Alabama Frontier Days in Wetumpka on Nov. 5-9 features reenactments from French Colonial times to the Early American period. Nearly 200 songwriters from across the country will be performing in venues all along the Alabama Gulf Coast during the Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival on Nov. 6-16. The 7th annual Oyster Cook-Off featuring all-star chefs and live entertainment is Nov. 7-9 in Gulf Shores. A complete list of fall events is available at

Canadian Traveller posts Alabama information

The Canadian Traveller website has added an Alabama article this month called “Alabama: The Yellowhammer State.” Published Oct. 4, the story lists several What’s New items including;

Rock N Roll Heaven, the increase in tourism in Muscle Shoals due to Stephen Badger’s Muscle Shoals documentary
Civil Rights Anniversary, the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery March
Bus Boycott Anniversary, the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Photographs of downtown Montgomery and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center were featured in the article.

Attractions highlighted were: the Mobile Carnival Museum, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville.

Events highlighted were: Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s performance season in Montgomery, Mardi Gras in Mobile, To Kill A Mockingbird play in Monroeville, Helen Keller Festival & Miracle Worker play in Tuscumbia and the National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores.

Three Alabama cities were included in the Places section and as part of one of the Alabama Tourism Department’s trails.

Birmingham: Explore the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, 16th Street Baptist Church; McWane Science Center, the Jazz Hall of Fame, and Railroad Park.
Mobile: Visit the Exploreum science museum, the USS Alabama battleship and sample some fresh seafood in the U.S. birthplace of Mardi Gras.
Montgomery: Downtown museums include the Rosa Parks Museum, Dexter King Memorial Baptist Church and the Civil Rights Memorial. You can also visit the Hank Williams Museum and the Mooseum.
Civil Rights Trail: Stops include the Civil Rights Institute, 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park and 4th Avenue North in Birmingham. The Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the Rosa Parks Museum and the Civil Rights Memorial were included in Montgomery.

The article also listed small town destinations in a section called Hidden Gems.

Mentone: Ideal base for exploring De Soto State Park and Little River Canyon National Preserve. North East Alabama.
Fairhope: A small, quaint artist community where the author Winston Groom (Forrest Gump) and the artist Nall reside. Mobile Bay.

The Canadian Traveller website was developed by the magazine of the same name as a place to promote their extensive experiences and world travel information. To see the article, go to:

Birmingham’s Clayton Sherrod tells NPR how he became chef at all-white country club

Birmingham chef Clayton Sherrod was featured on NPR’s “StoryCorps” series recently, recounting his experience working his way up from dishwasher to head chef at an all-white country club in the 1960s.

Sherrod, who is black, told “StoryCorps” he was 13 when he stated working as a dishwasher at the country club, and by the time he was 19, in 1964, he had become the executive chef.

“All of my friends told me I was crazy,” he said. “But I saw something that no one else could see, and that is me walking around with that big, tall hat on.”

The “StoryCorps” piece does not mention the country club by name, but Sherrod told it was Vestavia Country Club.

Sherrod said he has received lots of phone calls, text messages and emails since the “StoryCorps” piece aired.

Sherrod, who was executive chef at Vestavia Country Club for 13 years, now has his own catering business, Chef Clayton’s Food Systems, Inc., and serves on the board of Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College.

To see the article and listen to the “StoryCorps” feature, go to:

Historic marker honors Percy Sledge, Quin Ivy

historic marker commemorating the site where “When A Man Loves A Woman” was recorded will be unveiled Tue., Sept. 30, at 1 p.m. at 104 East Second Street in Sheffield. This address was the site of Quin Ivy’s North Alabama Recording Studio (NORALA). The song, which was recorded on Feb. 17, 1966, launched Sledge to international fame. Sledge and Ivy are scheduled to attend the marker unveiling.

Ivy established the studio in 1965 and used the proceeds from the Sledge session to construct a more modern studio across town named Quinvy. Donna Jean Thatcher was the first artist to record there.

The marker unveiling is open to the public and is being held the same day as a benefit concert to raise money for Sledge, who is battling liver cancer. The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at any branch of First Metro Bank or Valley Credit Union.

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