He first entered the restaurant industry at Trace Grill in Ridgeland when he was 16 years old. Since then, Cassell, who has no formal training and did not attend culinary school, rose through the ranks of food service, starting from a cook at Trace Grill and eventually leading to his position as a chef Ri Ra Irish Pub in Charlotte, N.C., and then to Fenian's in 2015.
BOOM Jackson spoke with him recently to talk about his role at Fenian's and how he fuses Irish traditions with the modern-
I like having really good food. I like surprising people. Fenian's has been around for a long time in an old building. You (have) to think it surprises people when they get actual, good, scratch-made food with local products. All that kind of stuff that you'd find at nicer places around town. Pub food is fun. It's not pretentious. We kind of get away with just about anything here. You can do some nicer stuff. At the same time, you can do some greasy stuff. There's a lot of options.
What is your favorite dish to make? Why?
The Irish chicken curry that we do is kind of cool. People don't really expect curry at an Irish pub. It's not really a traditional Irish dish, but curry is huge in Ireland. The curry powder that we get in to make the curry sauce actually gets shipped in from Ireland. It's the same type of curry they use at the late-night places (there).
You get kind of bored with stuff as a chef. You always want to change stuff. You're always eating different stuff.
We've got a few of those super traditional items like our beef and Guinness stew, our fish (and) chips, and sausages and mash. We're a restaurant. We're not a museum.
You'll find (that) with pubs in Ireland, they are all a reflection of the local area. So here, it's kind of melding together Irish ingredients and southern ingredients and just having a lot of fun with it.
It's comfort food. Before I worked in an Irish pub, I always loved southern and soul food. It's food that makes you feel good. A lot of your traditional Irish fares are along those lines. They are really hearty stuff.
For more information on Fenian's Pub (901 E Fortification St., 601.948.0055), visit fenianspub.com or find the business on