When venturing down Capitol Street in the city of Jackson, one can’t help but stop and admire the historic brick buildings that line the sidewalks. Parlor Market, located at 115 West Capitol Street, has a rich history of serving Southern food to Jacksonians and many others since 1898. The building once housed a grocery called Parlor Market, and when then owner, the late Craig Noone, decided to start a restaurant in the vintage brick building in 2010, he decided to honor its original name.
Walking in to Parlor Market makes you feel nostalgic, as if you’ve stepped back in time to when Jackson was a fairly new, bustling and prosperous capital city. After the original Parlor Market closed its doors in the 1920’s, the building took on many different lives — a lumber company, a meat market, a leather factory, an oyster bar and even a marble company. Pieces of each company that once thrived in the now-home of Parlor Market are accentuated throughout the restaurant, with meat hooks used for the ladies to hold their purses, marbled countertops and beautiful old Louisiana cypress beams preserved over the years upholding the foundation of the restaurant.
Parlor Market has been a huge success since its inception and continues to be a hit, featured in many publications including The New York Times, Deep South Living and Southern Living. Recently, Parlor Market has been featured on the Food Network and the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.”
Continuing the Parlor Market fine Southern cuisine experience is Katie Cochran, events coordinator, Lee Hurley, sous chef, and Matthew Kajdan, executive chef. Cochran’s experience as events coordinator at Ridgeland’s Parker House Restaurant helped hone her skills today, planning everything from corporate parties, and rehearsal dinners, to this year’s Burger PM, an all-day event on Aug. 27 featuring live music and homemade burgers. Cochran also helps coordinate Dinner 34, which raises money for the Craig Noone Rock It Out Scholarship. The event, to be held on Sept. 21, brings together all of the original line cooks from Parlor Market to prepare a seven-course meal, paired with wine or beer.
Lee Hurley, who hails from Independence, Miss., started working at Parlor Market in the summer of 2011, and has been the sous chef for a year and a half. Hurley met Noone at an event in the Delta, which led to him joining the team soon after he and his wife moved to Jackson.
“The food here at Parlor Market is an experience in itself and the ambience all comes together,” Hurley said. “I try to bring out my small town pride and work ethic with each dish I make.”
Matthew Kajdan has been the executive chef at Parlor Market for four years. Born and raised in Madison where his mother and grandmother showed him the way around the kitchen, not to mention growing up in a large European family, he developed a passion for gourmet cooking. Food has always been a huge part of Kajdan’s life since a young age, which helped prepare him for a life in the culinary arts that began at the age of 16 years old at Bravo! Italian Restaurant in Jackson. He learned under chefs Louis Larose and Dan Blumenthal who taught him the basics of line cooking and culinary arts. After his years at Bravo!, Matthew began working with Nick Apostle, who owned Nick’s Restaurant, where his skills were honed over the next few years. He left Mississippi in 2006 to pursue a position in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. Matthew worked at the historic Sagamore Hotel under great chefs, including Frank Esposito, Ken Lingle and pastry chef Bill Foltz.
In 2008, Matthew moved back to Mississippi and returned back to work under his former boss, Nick Apostle. With Apostle mentoring him, Matthew helped open the Mermaid Café as Executive Chef and eventually General Manager. He credits these years and Nick’s mentorship to his understanding of what it means to be a chef and how to run a successful business without sacrificing ethics. These days, Matthew oversees daily operations at Parlor Market. As the Executive Chef, Matthew promises to bring us a “New Southern menu,” with progressive ideas and local products in a “Farm to Table Atmosphere.”