OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is working to showcase South Mississippi cuisine, and they're doing that with the help of restaurant critics from across the country.
From the ambience, to the cleanliness and food, the eight restaurant critics are paying attention to all aspects of their experience at The Shed Barbeque Blues Joint in Ocean Springs.
"Whether the food is delicious, whether it's comfortable, whether you feel right at home, whether it's friendly. Really, when you're going out, you're spending your money. You want to have a good time and you want to remember it," said Sheree Bykofsky, a writer for Beauty News NYC.com.
"I just had brisket that was just cooked outside. You can't get that in very many places. It was probably the best I've ever eaten," said Mark Ruderman, a New Yorker and guest of one of the writers.
The Shed is the first stop on a South Mississippi culinary tour for these writers.
"We're able to bring these writers in, take them to the different restaurants. And then they can blog about it, use social media, write about it in newspapers, magazines. And it gets, not only their name out there, but also pictures. They love to take pictures of the food," said Taryn Pratt with MS Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitor's Bureau.
Feature writer Apryl Thomas with Southern Hospitality Traveler.com said she's noticed a change in America's interest in food.
"I see a shift in people being more adventurous, trying new things on trips. But also a big shift, more than a trip, is eating local," said Thomas.
The big thing, Thomas says, readers look for is authenticity. They want to know that the food is unique and something they can't get anywhere else. Once they finished their meals, the writers were found taking notes on The Shed's history and learning about what makes them different.
They'll be doing the same at a variety of other coast restaurants before sharing the story of South Mississippi cuisine with the rest of the world.
The writers finished the night with dessert at Mary Mahoney's. And their itinerary continues with two more days of stops at various restaurants all over the coast. This tour is one of two media familiarization tours the CVB hosts every year.