There’s a saucy foundation to the story of Miss Oddette’s Creole Kitchen and its Southern-inspired culinary pop-up events.
Oddette Augustus grew up with the hearty and heartfelt cooking of her Louisiana-born grandmother, Hazel “Granga” Smith.
One of the family’s favorite recipes was Granga’s homemade barbecue sauce, which became the heart and soul of several cherished traditions – from weekend barbecues to the ritual of cooking and canning gallons of the tangy tomato-based sauce.
The traditions continued after the family moved to Stockton, where Augustus grew up.
“I was about 15 when Granga taught me how to make the sauce,” she recalled fondly. “We made it together every year after that around Easter, and when she died, I kept making it for the family.”
Augustus also began making the barbecue sauce for friends, including her coworkers in California’s youth correctional system.
During a 21-year career in that field as a program administrator — Augustus spent the last four years in Paso Robles — she had to write a lot of reports. Jars of her sauce became jokingly known as the “special report” she’d brought to work that day.
Granga’s barbecue sauce also figured into the next chapter of Augustus’s life – retirement.
“I wanted to do something involving food, fun and people,” she said. With that in mind, family members suggested that she sell barbecued tri-tip and jars of her Special Report sauce.
In 2003, Miss Oddette’s BBQ Sauces and Catering became a reality.
In addition to dishing out tri-tip and other sides at various events, Augustus began selling her sauce commercially in specialty stores and select markets. Soon, she added a spicier version of sauce to the product line, playfully dubbed No Joke.
Then, in 2008, Augustus was diagnosed with progressive kidney failure. As she waited for a donor match, her energy waned. The catering gigs had to stop, but she was able to continue the sauce line with the help of her distributor.
Almost two years later, a friend from church, Machelle Migliaccio, proved to be a viable match for a kidney donation. After a successful surgery, August set out on what she named a “journey of diligent joy” – a cross-country drive to Louisiana and back, reconnecting with friends and family along the way.
Renewed and refreshed, Augustus rebooted the catering side of her business in May 2017 — this time as Miss Oddette’s Creole Kitchen. “It lets me do versions of Southern food beyond just barbecue,” she said.
The name is also a nod to Granga, her Creole grandmother.
Miss Oddette’s Creole Kitchen uses a pop-up event format, appearing at events such as winery open houses and festivals. Fans are notified of the venue and food details via Facebook or word of mouth. On Thursdays, Augustus has a regular gig serving food at the weekly blues jam at D’Anbino Vineyards and Cellars in Paso Robles.
Unless it’s a special event such as a fish fry with all the fixings, Miss Oddette’s Creole Kitchen typically offers a single dish on the pop-up menus.
Favorites range from creamy shrimp and grits to classic mac and cheese, fried chicken and waffles to chicken Creole, red beans and rice to pulled pork sliders and coleslaw.
Of course, Special Report barbecue sauce is always available as a condiment, and diners can purchase single jars to take home. (The sauce is usually only available by the case.)
“It was out of love that Granga taught me how to make her sauce,” Augustus said. “It’s my hope is that people enjoy it at home as much as we have and that it contributes to their own family memories and traditions.”
Miss Oddette’s Creole Kitchen
The scene: Oddette Augustus serves up barbecue favorites 7 to 10 p.m. Thursdays at D’Anbino Vineyards & Cellars, 710 Pine St. in Paso Robles. She also offers pop-up culinary events at various San Luis Obispo County spots, including wineries
The cuisine: Southern-inspired fare such as shrimp and grits, mac and cheese and pulled pork. Wine and/or beer typically available for purchase at venue.
Expect to spend: Plates typically $10 or less. Jars cost $10.
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