Growing up, if Maurice Cherry wanted a quality meal, he had to make it himself, so as a teenager, he began working at restaurants and decided to become a chef. “My mom was a terrible cook so I had to basically learn how to cook on my own. I would sneak out of bed late at night to watch the Food Network,” Cherry told the AFRO on Sept. 10.
D.C. residents can get a taste of his cuisine at Mason Dixon Biscuit Co., a southern-influenced food startup founded by Cherry, the managing chef; Jason Gehring, executive chef and Ayeshah Abuelhiga, CEO.
Mason Dixie currently operates in Northeast’s Union Market, 1309 5th St NE, from Thursdays through Sundays. Menu items include sandwiches and platters centered around the company’s signature buttermilk biscuits. Previous biscuit pairings have included fried chicken, pulled pork and gouda.
While many featured items stem from the co-founders’ Maryland roots, options are limitless as the menu constantly changes. “Whereas most restaurants are forced into having just one cuisine, we like to do things internationally as well as maintain a southern focus,” said Cherry.
Mason Dixie launched in the summer of 2014 with a weekend pop-up at the Dolcezza gelato factory near Union Market and a late night pop-up at Roofers Union in Adams Morgan. By September, the co-founders were awarded a six-month membership at Mess Hall, a culinary incubator in D.C., as winners of the food entrepreneur competition – Launch Pad. Before coming to Union Market, Mason Dixie served a three-week residency at food incubator and pop-up restaurant EatsPlace in Northwest’s Park View neighborhood.
“Being in different venues consistently as well as having stability at Union Market has been very good,” said Cherry. “The neighborhoods we’ve been involved with have given us exposure to different parts of the city so it’s really gotten our name out there.”
Mason Dixie will operate at Union Market through November, however, they also cater and prepare a line of frozen biscuits at Union Kitchen in Ivy City. Moving forward, Cherry is working to advance the company and eventually open a brick-and-mortar location in the city.
“Being able to be creative is the most important thing – just being able to come up with new ideas whether it’s through conversations with Jason and Ayeshah or through a dream, it’s always good to maintain creativity,” said Cherry.
To keep up with Mason Dixie Biscuit Co., visit masondixiebiscuits.com