Royal's Yvonne Mitchell Cooking Up Hits



A couple things to know about Yvonne Mitchell, daughter of the legendary founder of Royal Studios Willie Mitchell: She can cook and she can cook for crowds.

"My mother always had musicians living with us," Mitchell explains, saying she recruited to help feed the masses when she was around 8 or 9.

So consider Mitchell prepared for Friday's "Rhythm on the River (Poppa Willie's Night)," the first in a trio of events in celebration of Royal's 60th anniversary. Mitchell will be cooking dinner for the crowd.

"I'm making salmon croquettes with a special sauce I made up. Chicken with mushroom gravy, rice and greens, black-eyed peas, homemade cornbread, lemon poundcake, peach cobbler, and a 150-year-old recipe for chow chow," Mitchell says.

Mitchell has worked for the studio for nearly 50 years, doing everything from being an administrator to doing copy writing to cleaning the machines and staging photo sessions for the musicians. She and her sister formed A&V Enterprises, and they worked with Ann Peebles and Hi Rhythm.

When Willie Mitchell passed away in 2010, the family had to regroup and figure out how best to serve the studio. They decided to make Boo Mitchell the face of the studio, with Yvonne providing a little TLC for the musicians.

Musicians often stay in the studio from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., says Mitchell. She would bring them her famous lemon pound cake and then feed them a proper Sunday dinner, so they would have some comfort food after days of burgers and barbecue.

She cooked for Bruno Mars, John Mayer, and Boz Scaggs. She cooked for Melissa Etheridge for seven days. She's catered the Memphis Music Hall of Fame inductions.

For the Rhythm on the River event, held at the studio, Don Bryant will perform with the Bo-Keys. It's Bryant's first time back to Royal since the 1960s.

As for Mitchell's 150-year-old chow chow recipe, it's her grandmother's, and she's getting the grandkids in on the act because she messed up her shoulder and needs help with all the chopping. She says they're doing pretty good.

So, does anyone ever cook for Mitchell? "Not really," she says. "My sister can't boil water."

Add a comment