I grew up cooking in New Orleans at my mon's knee. Being the oldest girl in a LARGE family, I learned to cook as early as I can remember, but it did take me a while to adjust to cooking for less than 10 or 12 people. To get kitchen privileges at an early age, I used to cook when mom hired a babysitter, telling the sitter that when mom was out sometimes I would save her some work by fixing tomorrow's dinner so she could take it easy. The next day, I'd tell mom that the babysitter fixed tomorrow's meal to save her from having to cook. Eventually, they discovered the scam when mom thanked the babysitter for not only sitting for 8 kids, but for cooking as well. Not only did I not land in the doghouse for my schemes, I established myself as someone who could be trusted in the kitchen. After that, before making groceries, mom would ask me if there was anything I wanted to cook, and she'd buy the ingredients for whatever I wanted.
My favorite things to cook
I love creating original recipes combining local and exotic ingredients. I strive to involve every taste bud as well as smell. I feel like I've succeeded when the flavors "dance" around the mouth and palate, and when my diners can detect top notes, bottom notes, and a lingering "je ne sais pas" that they can almost, but not quite identify.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Monday's red beans and rice, home-baked king cake at least once during Carnival, turkey and sausage gumbo after the holidays (from smoked turkey carcass if I have the energy), Gumbo 'Zerbe (green gumbo) during Holy Week and eating my husband's awesome cooking whenever I can.
My cooking triumphs
My greatest cooking triumph was catering the political rally of one of New Orleans mayoral candidates, Manny Chevrolet Bruno. Manny is a very talented writer/actor/comedian who made a short film about running for the Mayor of New Orleans. His slogan was,”Manny Chevrolet, A Troubled Man for Troubled Times" and his banners were televised worldwide during Mardi Gras coverage at Lee Circle. The rally was a hoot and is a key point of the film. It featured strippers exotically prancing chanting, "Manny, Manny, he's our man! If he can't screw you, no one can!" and other hysterics. I fixed 2 pasta entrees, a shrimp pasta dish in a fish and shrimp stock based sauce and a vegetarian pasta with a savory sauce using a base of blended green peas, chicken stock, onion, garlic and spices. The food garnered rave reviews, generated lots of catering requests, and if you look closely in the film, you will see “Madame Roux” in chef garb.
My cooking tragedies
When I was 17 I hosted my first dinner party. I made Canneloni Al Forno (even the pasta was hand-made) a few sides, and Almond Torte for dessert. My parents had planned a night out for all the kids so I could use the kitchen and dining room. One brother stayed behind to study for exams. Now picture a full dining room table lavished with gourmet fare and delicious Italian wines, the sounds of forks against plates and glasses clinking and a bunch of college kids savoring great food. My younger brother suddenly appears, quite frantic, yelling, "Look!! I think Frankie (pet hamster) is dying!" Then he plops a small box into the middle of the dinner table, inside which is a hamster bleeding from the mouth and in the throes of a hamster seizure, looking like he's doing the hamster break dance of death." Needless to say, it really cleared out the room.