Kristen Ward has known she wanted to cook since her childhood in Yazoo City, Miss. She tried college for a year, and then decided to pursue her passion for food. At 19, she moved to Tupelo where she took a job as a barista at Starbucks and began getting acquainted with the culinary scene. Not long after, she met David Leathers, chef at Forklift. He “took her under his wing” and they started making plans long before Forklift or Butterbean ever opened its doors. Ward was able to work on a few local projects in the meantime and turned her focus towards pastry.
“I always thought I’d be a line cook, but line cooks don’t like baking,” she said. “I like details.”
She was working retail when she got the call she had been waiting for—the restaurant was opening and Leathers was ready to make good on his promise. As Forklift and Butterbean’s pastry chef, Ward is at it at 4:30 a.m., making their signature buttermilk biscuits and homemade comfort food desserts like gooey butter cake. Her style is decidedly casual; it’s what you would make at home, but better. Biscuits will be Butterbean, and Ward’s, bread-and-butter, with a list of fixings that are both savory and sweet to choose from to accompany your morning (or afternoon) coffee.