Updated: Jan 25
By Kathy K. Martin | Photography credits: The Sipp
When Chef Cameron Bryant describes his food at The Sipp on South Lamar in Oxford he says, “It’s The Sipp’s food with my accent.” He offers this same advice to his sous chefs at The Sipp and YūGō Oxford, “Create the food that represents the restaurant, but put your own spin on it.”
This has been Bryant’s evolving philosophy for his cuisine since he began cooking in his hometown of Kosciusko, and after that in Colorado, New York, and Italy.
While growing up in Kosciusko, he learned how to cook a hamburger as he worked as a bus boy at the Rib Alley. He also experienced the power of food alongside his family, especially his two grandmothers. “I learned so much around the dinner table and just the communal aspect that food brings to our lives.”
He began college at Ole Miss, but then moved to Winter Park, Colorado to work at a ski resort and figure out what he wanted to do with his life. One day he met the owners of a local taco shop and planned to apply for a server job when they offered him a job as the cook. His time there was the catalyst for his career path to cooking as a professional chef. He claims that even reading "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly" by Anthony Bourdain (available on Amazon here) didn’t deter him from his goal.
After returning to Oxford in 2006 to complete his degree in hospitality management, he grew even more passionate about food as he began to work at well-known local eateries such as Old Venice Pizza and the former L&M’s Kitchen. His fondness for creating Italian dishes grew too, so he embarked on his next step – culinary school in New York with further training in Italy. “It was a lot of fun, and I was very fortunate to be accepted into the program,” he says of his time at the French Culinary Institute. His training included three months of classes in New York and three months of classes in Italy, followed by an unpaid internship at a two-star Michelin restaurant in Alba, Italy.
His first job after returning to the U.S. was in Brooklyn at the Diner and Marlow & Sons restaurants. “I’d call it modern American food, very hyper seasonal with their own butcher shop and bakery.”
However, the pull of home was strong. With his sister and nieces living in French Camp and his parents growing older, he decided to move back home. “Instead of just pursuing my career, I decided I could pursue my career and my family at the same time here in Mississippi.” He worked at the Ravine and then helped set up the menu for the (now-closed) Green Roof Lounge, both in Oxford. Before long he was approached by A.J. and Claire Kiamie, third-generation owners of Kiamie Package Store, to launch their vision for a wine, whiskey, and tapas bar called The Sipp.
Bryant describes their planning stage of the restaurant as many nights of hanging out and taste-testing recipe ideas until one in the morning. “I probably made about 40 or 50 Mae Helens during that time,” he jokes in reference to the menu item, which features Texas toast, beef patties, cheese, grilled onions, and chipotle-basil aioli with fries. Bryant can tell you all about this modern interpretation of a simple burger, which is named for the legendary employee of Oxford’s historic Kiamie Bowling Lanes, lost to a fire in 2010.
Opening in 2019, The Sipp’s menu feature small plates to taste and large plates to share, such as General Homie’s cauliflower wings, Latin-spiced meatballs, beef empanadas, and other nibbles that pair well with a glass of wine or bourbon. The bar list is more than quadruple the size of the food menu, featuring over 50 wines and 100 whiskeys.
Bryant’s newest chef assignment is YūGō Oxford, a modern fusion restaurant on the town
square, which features dim sum and signature plates of stir fry and fried rice dishes. The restaurants are very different, yet also similar in vibe and décor, like two halves of the same coin, Bryant explains. “I just put my accent on the food that belongs at that restaurant.”
This is one of chef Cameron Bryant’s favorite recipes from The Sipp. It is based on a timeless technique of marinating roasted vegetables in vinegar to preserve their flavors and freshness.
Herb Roasted Mushrooms
6 cups button mushrooms, cut in half
1 tablespoon dry thyme
1 tablespoon dry tarragon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup aged sherry vinegar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, toss the mushrooms with oil, dry herbs, salt, and cayenne pepper.
Pour into deep baking dish and roast in the oven for approximately 20–25 minutes or until the mushroom water has evaporated.
Remove from oven and allow to cool to the touch. Stir in vinegar.
Pack into a lidded container and keep in the fridge until ready to use. Serve with crostini, aioli, and shaved sharp cheese, on steak, or tossed into a salad