By Susan Marquez
Inside a rustic barn, nestled in a field of flowers and overlooking a beautiful lake, the bustle of women chopping, mixing and setting oven timers is accented with laughter and a few squeals of delight. The instructor gets everyone’s attention as she explains the next step in the recipe.
Tracy Morgan is the instructor of the dinner experience at The Farmstead on Woodson Ridge, located a short ten-minute drive from The Square in Oxford. The elegant-yet-rustic charm of the original working barn is the perfect location for a group to gather and cook. The barn has been completely renovated and features a state-of-the-art catering kitchen.
Sandy and Anne Sharpe own the 128-acre property. Their daughter, Kathryn, farms the flowers on the property that are sold in various locations around Oxford, as well as used for floral arrangements and bouquets for the many weddings held on the property. The Sharpes acquired the property in 2005, and in 2011 they opened The Farmstead. There are 15 cottages on the property with the potential for 30 to 35. The innovative cottages offer lockout floorplans to accommodate almost any type of overnight stay. It is ideal for groups, families and corporate retreats.
Susan Tullos is the hospitality director at The Farmstead. “I customize retreats for families, girls’ retreats or corporations. I can organize cooking classes, art retreats or anything your heart desires (within reason) for those gatherings,” Tullos says.
Cooking experiences are the most popular events at The Farmstead, and Tracy enjoys working with groups to find the perfect dishes to teach. She recently had a group of women from Texas, and Tracy provided an Italian cooking experience for them. “It was a girl’s trip,” she says. “They go somewhere different every year. One of the women had a daughter at Ole Miss, so they came to Oxford.” The women made their own pasta by hand and learned how to make different sauces. “We made fettuccine, two different sauces, meatballs, salad and individual tiramisus for dessert.”
Tracy has been teaching cooking classes to friends in her home “forever.” Her dad owned a restaurant in Laurel when she was growing up, and she learned her way around a kitchen by watching him. “I grew up chopping, stirring and cooking,” she says. She cooked professionally for many years for a friend who owned a local catering service.
Cooking and teaching in the Farmstead kitchen is a dream for Tracy. “It is a true gourmet kitchen, with three cooking stations and a huge island. It is ideal for teaching. I try to do very interactive and fun classes. Making a meal together is a great bonding experience and so much fun. Folks come in all dressed up and not sure what they’re going to be doing. I put one of my grandmother’s vintage aprons on each person and let them know they are in for an enjoyable time!”
The options for the cooking experiences Tracy can provide at the Farmstead are endless. “I do a grilling class, and there is a pizza oven, so I can teach people how to make their own wood-fired pizzas. I am Lebanese and grew up making Lebanese food. In May, I’ll be teaching a Lebanese cooking class for a wedding party. I’m really looking forward to that.” Tracy says she also loves teaching Spanish cooking, including paella and tapas, as well as baking classes.
For more information on The Farmstead at Woodson Ridge and Tracy Morgan’s cooking classes, visit the Farmstead website at www.farmsteadwr.com.