The Absolute Best Eatery makes a bold claim, but the name of the food truck and catering company Tabitha Holifield opened in 2021 could just as well describe her feelings about being self-employed.
The company was born during COVID-19 after Holifield decided to leave the restaurant where she worked and concentrate on her love of cooking to start her own enterprise. Her menu has something to please most every palate: from the King Reuben, a two-fisted mile-high sandwich overflowing with layers of tender corned beef, sauerkraut and cheese, to a more-healthful salmon Caesar salad to egg rolls with a Southern twist.
Her love of cooking is evident in every dish she prepares. Serving fresh foods is her passion, one that she has been sharing this summer at Stable 41 Farmers Market in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, as she hosts chef demonstrations using fresh fruits and vegetables available from market farmers and other vendors.
A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Holifield credits her Southern grandparents for her love of cooking.
“They were both artisans in the kitchen,” she says.
Meet the chef: Owner of The Absolute Best Eatery credits Southern grandparents, U.S. Navy for her culinary career
Here, she talks about how travel influenced her culinary style, as well as how the partnership with Stable 41 came about.
Q: Did you go to culinary school or did you learn to cook just by learning the ropes and picking up recipes and techniques as you went along?
A: While my initial teachings are tied to the South, I picked up many of my skills as a chef on all of my world travels as a sailor in the U.S. Navy, as well as personal travels.
Q: How did your travels change the way you cook?
A: As a beginner chef, the slow cooker was my friend. However my travels around the world introduced me to a vast palate of taste and ingredients and taught me to put a spin on traditional recipes.
Q: What food do you consider your specialty?
A: I don’t have a specialty. As chefs, we are capable of creating most any dish.
Q: How did the partnership with Stable 41 happen?
A: The partnership came from a contact from them in 2021. That was the first season of their market. We decided it was a good fit, and from there it’s been magical. We love the city of Fort O. We are super exited to bring The Absolute Best Eatery into the homes of our guests to be re-created by the people at the market.
Q: Do you change your menu often?
A: Yes, we buy as much local and fresh as we can and change our menu according to seasons.
Q: Where can people find your food truck?
A: We don’t have a set address as we move around the city. Our food-truck season runs through October. People can find where we are by downloading the Food Truck Finder on DoorDash.
Q: Is there a cookbook or website you turn to for inspiration?
A: I sometimes go to foodnetwork.com for insight, and chef Gordon Ramsay is my inspiration.
Q: Finish this sentence. If I hadn’t become a chef, I would have been …
A: A detective!
Q: What food is your guilty pleasure?
Q: You sell The Absolute Best Eatery seasoning online (theabsolutebesteatery.com), but is there a substitute to use in a pinch?
A: Most recipes, such as my Grilled Chicken With Oven-Roasted Asparagus, can use sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in its place.
Grilled Chicken With Oven-Roasted Asparagus
2 pounds asparagus
Extra-virgin olive oil
Dash of The Absolute Best Eatery all-purpose seasoning (or sea salt and black pepper)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon melted butter
3 pounds (about 4) chicken breasts
4 tablespoons olive oil
The Absolute Best Eatery all-purpose seasoning (or sea salt and black pepper)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil, plus more for garnish
4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
For asparagus: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse asparagus in cold water, pat dry and trim tough ends with sharp knife. Drizzle spears with olive oil, and sprinkle with seasoning and garlic. Drizzle with melted butter, and toss with hands to cover completely. Place asparagus on a nonstick baking sheet, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until crisp-tender.
For chicken: Rinse chicken, and rub with lemon half.
Mix together olive oil, seasoning, garlic and basil, and refrigerate for 10 minutes, then rub it over the chicken slices, tossing to coat. Grill chicken over medium-high heat until it reaches 155-160 degrees F, roughly 7-8 minutes per side. Add 1 slice of mozzarella to each breast, and allow to melt. Cut chicken into thin slices, if desired.
To plate: Place asparagus spears on plates, and top with chicken. Garnish with diced tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, some more chopped fresh basil and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Makes 4 servings.