Austin Sumrall, the chef owner of White Pillars Restaurant and Lounge has had a passion for cooking since a very early age when he took over cooking Sunday brunch for the family at the age of 8. Since then, he has been honing his craft both at home and in the restaurant industry. Austin, a native of McComb, Mississippi, spent most of his time hunting, fishing, hiking, foraging and cooking at his family’s equine and cattle ranch in Liberty. Even before he knew he wanted to be a Chef, food was always a priority. Cooking with his Mother and Grandfather was a favorite pastime. The Sumrall family would always say, “we’d sit down to eat lunch and be planning for dinner.” Austin graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. He then completed classical training at the world-renown Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and has since worked for three different James Beard award winners with the title of “Best Chef: South” before opening his restaurant in 2017 and receiving his own nomination for the title in 2020. Austin met his wife, Gulfport native, Tresse Young Sumrall while in school at Ole Miss. During his time in culinary school in New York, Tresse was across the country studying to become a nurse at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. Soon after their respective graduations, the couple married in October 2012, and moved to Birmingham, Alabama, for Austin to begin his career at the famed Hot and Hot Fish Club under Chef Chris Hastings. Not long after, they welcomed son Ollie to the family in 2015, and the Sumrall family began making plans to move back home to Mississippi and pursue their dream of opening their own restaurant in their beloved home state. The Sumrall’s soon connected to the Holstein and Mladinich family and the rest is White Pillars history. Since opening the White Pillars in December of 2017, Chef Austin has been recognized for his culinary excellence locally and regionally through cooking competitions and award nominations, alike. In 2020 he was nominated by the prestigious James Beard Foundation for “Best Chef South.” And 2021 has brought on the new title of “King of American Seafood 2021.” after winning top prize in the Great American Seafood Cook. The competition included both nationally and internationally acclaimed seafood chefs, to which, Austin came home with the crown after presenting a trio presentation of fresh red snapper.
I am a father to two beautiful children and a husband to a beautiful woman who loves and supports all my crazy ideas. I am a chef in title but will always be a line cook at heart. I served as part of the culinary support staff for the Southern Foodways Symposium for over a decade, served as a celebrity chef for Holland American Cruise Line, serve as the lead culinary Instructor at Mississippi Delta Community College culinary arts program, Co Founder and Chef of "The Delta Supper Club", executive chef for Six Shooter Land and Timber and have hosted private culinary events for special guests such as Morgan Freeman, Herbie Hancock, Rosanne Cash, Steve Azar, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, PGA golfer Zach Johnson and many more. I won the title "King of American Seafood" 2013. I competed on Season 2 of Food Network’s "Cutthroat Kitchen" (and got kicked off during the second round for my Pad Thai being “too spicy”-- come on Jet Tila!) and Season 4 of Food Network's "Supermarket Stakeout". I was featured in Simon Majumdar’s book "Fed White and Blue", I am a decent golfer, pretty good bowler but elite beer drinker. I owe my career to the Southern chefs that came before me, like John Currence and Derek Emerson.I live by a statement that I once heard John Currence say, “My food doesn’t tickle your palate, it punches you in the face!”
A familiar face on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Chet Landry joined the WLOX News Team three years ago and is now the anchor and host of Good Morning Mississippi. Born and raised in Biloxi, Chet is no stranger to “coast life.” A graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi, by way of Biloxi High School, his roots run deep. Upon finishing his education, he set sail into the world of entertainment. Chet worked for a number of notable companies. Disney Creative Entertainment, Royal Caribbean Productions, Troika and NETworks are just a few. He was lucky enough to grace the stage with the original cast of Finding Nemo: The Musical, at the Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World. Having returned home to Biloxi after an 18-year career, he can now be seen singing with the Coast Big Band and working with various theater companies around town. When he is not performing, he spends much of his additional free time serving as an officer with Krewe of Neptune… a position he is extremely proud to hold.