Today on Chef’s Story, host Dorothy Cann Hamilton is joined by New Orleans restauranteur, television personality, community activist and cookbook author John Besh. He discusses the historical significance of Louisiana foods and the collaboration of Creole and French cultures to create the indigenous New Orleans cuisine. Besh talks about his first culinary memories of family meals with rabbit and squirrel and his intrigue in the restaurant industry from an early age. He tells how his time in the military helped to shape his view of the culinary world and inspire him to lead a team in a positive and effective way. Besh looks back at the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and how the community came together over red beans and rice and the efforts to help those in need by employing hurricane affected residents and feeding those without food. Tune in as this James Beard Award winning chef and author talks about his journey to culinary stardom, his passion for local sourcing, and the importance of preserving the culinary history of New Orleans. This program was sponsored by Route 11 Potato Chips.
“Creole is really a beautiful mixture, a cultural gumbo so to speak, of French, Spanish, African, German and Italian cuisines all thrown into this pot.” [6:44]
“I was bitten by the restaurant bug early – I enjoyed bussing tables and coming to the kitchen early and preparing. It was pleasureable – I really enjoyed the interaction with people and the idea of food bringing people together and making everybody happy.” [18:33]
“What the Marines gave me was an understanding of a mission. If the mission in this case is, as a cook, to set your station and be ready to serve your guest flawlessly, understanding that mission allows you to prioritize everything in your day.” [22:25]
“Food is such a powerful tool – and it can be used for good! I found that out, and that’s what’s been driving me ever since.” [48:01]
–chef John Besh on Chef’s Story