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The best food and fun

EXPO welcomes new band, and new caterers

There will be a few new faces at Business After Hours for this year’s Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO.

Olga Abramavich and chef husband Yuriy own Olga’s Fine Dining in Jackson.

Olga Abramavich and chef husband Yuriy own Olga’s Fine Dining in Jackson.

The early evening event is held annually at the Mississippi Trade Mart in Jackson, EXPO’s home for more than 20 years.

“Mississippi is well-known for its music and cuisine,” said Alan Turner, publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. “Business After Hours will give our EXPO guests an opportunity to enjoy both while continuing to network in a relaxed atmosphere.”

To burn off all the calories sure to be consumed, Business After Hours will liven up the event with the funky, aerobic sounds of Bill Smiley & The Young Guns. Hailing from the “Port City” of Greenville. Smiley and his six-man crew (including bass, drums, guitar and a brass combo) plan to cover everything from Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson and all stops in between.

Smiley said that while he grew up in Cleveland surrounded by the Delta blues, he always looked at it as “old folks music.”

“I do a good blues show — I can do a whole night of blues,” Smiley said. “(The Young Guns) are just more of a dance and show band. There’s never a dull moment once we get off into it.”

Local foodies will begin serving at 5 p.m. Hays Thompson of Room Service, a catering service in Jackson, said he is more than ready for his first EXPO. “We’re usually anti-advertising and I don’t really do festivals because it takes a lot of concentration,” he said. “It’s scary, which makes it fun. Shake it up a bit.”

While visitors to his table can enjoy beef tenderloin, shrimp and bread platters, Thompson said he wants to use EXPO to unveil a new concept for his business called “conference cuisine.”

Bill Smiley and the Young Guns of Greenville will play everything from Elvis to Michael Jackson.

Bill Smiley and the Young Guns of Greenville will play everything from Elvis to Michael Jackson.

“Right now if you wanted to have a business pow-wow you gotta call a few days ahead,” he said. Room Service will offer same-day service for a variety of meetings, even ones that run late into the night. “We let the food do the advertising,” Thompson said. “It’s not just another sandwich going out the door.”

The owners of Lumpkin’s BBQ in Jackson said the sluggish economy has played a role in menu planning for them this year. As they prepare for their second EXPO, Monique Davis said their tasty smoked chicken was a quality but more budget-friendly choice.

“Our food costs are increasing significantly,” she said. “We use hickory wood to smoke the chicken and our signature sauce will be there. Last year we were a little intimidated and just came with a hunk of meat and a cutting board.”

The Washington, D.C., native said she still made good connections, got jobs and is glad to show off her eatery once again. “It’s all about exposure,” she said. “We just can’t depend on foot traffic.”

Olga’s Fine Dining of Jackson will enjoy their third year of enchanting taste buds all over the EXPO floor. Co-owner Olga Abramovich said she and her husband and chef Yuriy think Business After Hours is a great event. “We love this city and have been very blessed,” she said. While the restaurant is known for its Russian-Southern fusion-inspired steak and seafood dinners, Abramovich said their popular crawfish corn chowder would be the main dish at EXPO. “Everywhere we go we take that,” she said.

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