MY ACCENT COMES FROM Fall Rivers, Massachusetts, where I grew up. There’s some New Orleans in there, too, which sounds like the Bronx.
MY MOTHER HILDA inspired me to cook.
I WORKED AT A PORTUGUESE BAKERY when I was in high school. I learned how to bake bread and pastries.
I COULD HAVE BEEN a musician. I was offered a full scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music, but chose Johnson & Wales culinary school instead.
ELLA BRENNAN brought me to New Orleans. I was the executive chef at Commander’s Palace for seven-and-a-half years.
I OPENED MY FIRST RESTAURANT in 1990, in the Warehouse District New Orleans, just a few blocks away from what’s now the Rouses Market. It was a Cadillac dealership then. My second restaurant was NOLA, in the French Quarter. There’s a Rouses by it, too.
I HOSTED MORE THAN 2,000 SHOWS on the Food Network and Cooking Channel. And I’m a correspondent for Good Morning America.
I’M A REGULAR GUEST JUDGE ON BRAVO’S TOP CHEF and for Top Chef: New Orleans I did a segment with Paul Prudhomme, the Commander’s Chef I replaced when I came to New Orleans (he left to open K-Paul’s) and Tory McPhail, the now executive chef at Commander’s.
BOUDIN, BOURBON & BEER are three of my favorite things. That’s also the name of one of my foundation’s fundraisers. Rouses is a sponsor. Like they say, “locals helping locals.” BB&B is the same weekend as Carnival du Vin, our big charity wine auction.
YOU CAN GET A GREAT CULINARY EDUCATION WORKING IN A RESTAURANT OR BAKERY LIKE I DID but I wanted kids to also have the opportunity to learn in school. My foundation supports a four-year high school Culinary Arts program at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA).