Music runs through Max Shepherd’s veins.
So does a love of good food.
The 33 year-old Jackson native is the general manager for Glenn Foods, operating Basil’s at Fondren Corner and overseeing operations of their sister restaurant, Rooster’s.
But it may surprise you to know that just a few short years ago, Shepherd’s career was on a much different path.
The son of Malcolm Shepherd, Sr., who serves as president of the central Mississippi Blues Society, Max was in the music management and promotions business. He, along with his brother, were first to bring Memphis rapper Yo Gotti and Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz to Mississippi.
Max’s talents also extend to songwriting and studio work, all in line with one big musical family (his brother and sister both sing and their aunt is Jewel Bass).
In 2013, Shepherd connected a passion for cooking with an old family friend, Nathan Glenn. Glenn’s brother-in-law, Michael Puckett, and Shepherd, grew up together. When the whole crew hung out, “we’d all be cooking,” he recounts of their gatherings.
Glenn gave Shepherd his official start in the culinary world, at first washing dishes at Basil’s on Fortification Street. From there, he learned to work the line, make bread and pizzas and, three years later, he holds one of the company’s most responsible positions.
Shepherd says it’s the fresh, made-from-scratch food that keeps customers coming back. “Everything is made daily,” he notes of their bread and cookies. “A lot of dishes you eat out come from frozen, pre-prepared foods that just get reheated. Here, it still comes from a real kitchen.”
His forte? The secret sauce – or sauces. A Southwest barbecue, honey barbecue, a bÃ©chamel, the marinara, and the chipotle bacon ranch all flavor dishes he calls “simple” and “relatable.”
At the end of the day, Shepherd says it’s all about getting good food out and keeping the customer happy. “We want you to feel like you are a part of something. That’s the kind of atmosphere we look for, that good energy.”
As they often do, worlds may soon collide if Shepherd is able to marry his two passions together. “I’m planning on going further in (the restaurant) business and incorporating in the music,” he says of plans to operate a venue, hopefully in the area.
But don’t look for him to cut ties with the family that brought him to the proverbial dining room table. “I don’t plan on leaving Nathan and Tim (Glenn). Nathan and (brother-in-law) Matthew (Puckett) taught me to cook. We always say we have always been family.”
Cooking, music and – dogs? For ten years, Shepherd has been training and breeding bandogs, a dog bred for working purposes. His are strong bonders, he says, very family oriented but resolute. Many serve as guard dogs for estates, as hog catchers and one he notes, as a fire department dog. He adds, “It’s been a Â journey with that.”