The group, which members of the church first established around 1936 to cook food for church functions, began entering local cooking competitions in 2010.
In addition to its competition entries, the group cooks every third Tuesday of month for the church, except for Lent and Christmas. They also cook for causes such as the local Alcoholics Anonymous Old Timers Roundup, the Susan G. Komen Pink Tie Party for the Cure, which is on Sept. 28 this year, and the Red Beans and Rice Festival, which Stewpot Community Services hosts each spring.
The Holy Smokers currently have 37 members, including many individuals and couples who love to cook and serve the community. Bill Howard and Joe Surkin, who are parishioners of St. Andrew's and members of the Holy Smokers, say that being a part of the group is fun and good fellowship for anyone at the church who wants to be involved.
"An ongoing joke at St. Andrew's is that anyone who enters the kitchen and picks up a knife is going to be a part of The Holy Smokers," Surkin says. "They may help out once, but those who decide to stay a part of the group enjoy it."
Six or seven of the members head up most of the cooking responsibilities, and what makes the Holy Smokers so successful is that each cook in the group has a specialty, he says.
"Everyone in the group has a specialty that everyone has refined, and we do it well," Surkin says. "Everyone pitches in from organizing the events to being in the kitchen."
The Holy Smokers have won the Best Entree category five years in a row at Stewpot's Taste of Mississippi and have garnered a total of 15 awards overall at various competitions.
While the success that they've had in competitive cooking is nice, Howard says the most important part of being in the Holy Smokers will always be the ministry.
"It's a ministry of St. Andrew's, and we can't really lose that focus," Howard says. "When we cater, all of our proceeds go back to the ministry."
The group's menu repertoire includes dishes such as smoked salmon topped with lemon dill sauce, smoked tenderloin over scalloped potatoes with a red-wine-reduction sauce, and lamb chops served on a bed of sweet potato served with a mint chimichurri.
Howard says passion and a good sense of humor play a large role in the food's flavor.
"It's a lot of fun," he says. "We have a good time. We enjoy it, absolutely, and in any endeavor you enjoy doing, it's going to show in the product."