By Annie Rhoades
Prominently located in The Inn at Ole Miss is a marquee restaurant and bar that quickly gained a following for those searching for a unique on-campus experience coupled with the sophistication of a tony oak bar.
McCormick’s opened its doors on Sept. 25, 2020, during a unique time for the restaurant industry. While the pandemic stalled most restaurants to a grinding halt, McCormick’s grew its business to offer a memorable dining experience with unique food, drinks, services and more.
Services include breakfast, lunch and dinner with the menu featuring several of Chef Rusty Boyd’s carefully crafted recipes. The bar menu boasts an array of specialty cocktails, craft beers and wine with happy hour specials every Wednesday, 3-6 p.m.
The 2,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor space is located on the site of what was previously McCormick Café, and includes a bar top handcrafted by alumnus Ben Napier (BA 07), star of HGTV’s “Home Town,” that has become a destination stop for visitors.
We caught up with Boyd to learn more about his passion for cooking and why everyone should come visit Mississippi’s only on-campus bar and restaurant.
Q: When did you decide to become a chef?
A: I never really decided. I started working in a kitchen as a teenager. I loved the rush of a busy restaurant and satisfaction of feeding people. I tried other jobs but always found my way back to the kitchen.
Q: You’ve been in the industry for several years. Tell us about your background.
A: I started out cooking in a little spot in Oxford called Coop DeVille when I was in high school. Shortly after high school, I was running the place. Nothing special, just a hole-in-the-wall chicken wing joint, but we fed a lot of people. I’ve worked at several restaurants around town, but I spent most of my time at Taylor Grocery and the City Grocery Restaurant Group. I worked at Snackbar under Vishwesh Bhatt. Then, I ran the kitchen at Big Bad Breakfast. When Lamar Lounge opened, I became pitmaster there. I was also the executive chef for Kappa Alpha Fraternity on campus.
Q: Is it safe to say you’re passionate about what you do?
A: 100%. There is just something about the rush of being busy on a hot line and the satisfaction of creating something that people enjoy.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: Making people full and happy.
Q: What is your favorite thing to prepare?
A: My favorite meal to prepare is any breakfast food. Right now, my favorite cuisine is Irish food. I don’t really have a favorite dish; I just love cooking and learning.
Q: What is your favorite food item on the menu?
A: Chicken tenders. They’re the best I’ve ever had.
Q: What is your favorite drink on the menu?
A: On our menu, the Old Fashioned. The best drink I’ve had was “Jake’s sweet tea.”
Q: Do you plan to change up the menus periodically?
Q: What is your inspiration for coming up with new dishes?
A: That’s a tough question. It could honestly be anything: the season, a conversation, someone else’s dish that I’ve turned into something else.
Q: What are three things you want people to know about McCormick’s?
A: It is a hidden gem. It’s a great spot to enjoy a great meal with your family and friends, have a drink or catch a game. The restaurant itself is absolutely beautiful and has a lot of TVs.
Q: Oxford is known for its food scene and unique restaurants. What sets McCormick’s apart from the rest?
A: Ha-ha, I have to say me!