Our Story

Austin Sumrall, the chef owner of White Pillars has been working in restaurants for many years and has had a passion for cooking most of his life. Austin grew up in McComb, Mississippi, attended Parklane Academy and went on to graduate from the University of Mississippi with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. He received classical training at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and has worked for three different James Beard award winners with the title of “Best Chef: South”.

Since opening White Pillars in 2017, Chef Sumrall and his cuisine have been recognized and awarded both locally and nationally. In 2020 he was nominated as a Semi-Finalist by the prestigious James Beard Foundation in the category “Best Chef South.” He was crowned “King of American Seafood” when he won the acclaimed Great American Seafood Cook-off in New Orleans in 2021.  In 2023 Chef Austin was recognized by the alumni association at his alma mater as an Ole Miss 40 under 40 recipient. You can watch Chef Sumrall bring home the gold for the South on Food Network’s latest season of Alex vs America, a high stakes cooking competition that pits experts in a certain cuisine against Iron Chef and all around competitive powerhouse Chef Alex Guarnaschelli.

White Pillars and Chef Austin Sumrall can be seen in many notable publications, podcasts, and televised shows. Read about him in Garden and Gun, Food and Wine, Eater New Orleans, The Locale Palate, USA Today, Mississippi Magazine, and the SunHerald just to name a few. Watch him on Cooking Channel’s “Southern and Hungry”, Food.com’s “Carnivorous”, Food Network’s “Alex vs America”, Food Network’s CHOPPED, MPB Radio’s “Now You’re Talking with Marshall Ramsey”, SuperTalk Mississippi, EATYALL and local news Networks WXXV and WLOX.

The Sumrall’s and staff at White Pillars aim to provide a true authentic taste of the Mississippi Gulf Coast by providing you the freshest in local, farm to table cuisine, hand crafted cocktails, as well as an extensive wine and spirit list.

Austin met his wife, Gulfport native, Tresse Young while in school at Ole Miss, Hotty Toddy! While Austin was in culinary school in New York, Tresse was across the country studying to become a nurse at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. Soon after their respective graduations, the couple married in October 2012, and moved to Birmingham, Alabama, for Austin to begin his career at the famed Hot and Hot Fish Club under Chef Chris Hastings. Not long after, they welcomed son Ollie to the family in 2015, and the Sumralls began making plans to move back home to Mississippi and pursue their dream of opening their very own restaurant.

When they’re not at White Pillars, the Sumralls spend nearly every Saturday morning at the local farmers markets gathering produce and thinking about how they could best prepare it for dinner that night. Even in his free time, Austin lives, breathes and thinks food. He loves to cook dinner for his family, and Tresse has no problem doling out critiques. They end almost every meal with.. “but was that good enough for the menu?” Even growing up, Austin and his family always joke that they would sit at the table for one meal and be planning the next.