New Orleans Eats

New Orleans Eats - Tabasco Guardian's Skillet

Tabasco Guardians of the Tradition: New Orleans, LA

The Southern Foodways Alliance honors the men, women and establishments who have served New Orleans as Tabasco Guardians of the Tradition.

“The heroes of our cuisine are often unsung and uncelebrated women and men,” said Lolis Eric Elie, one of the organizers of the 2005 SFA New Orleans Field Trip and the primary force behind the awards. “Their considerable skills tend not to be rewarded with the type of fame and fortune that is increasingly part and parcel of the white table cloth world of celebrity chefs and destination restaurants.

“Still we recognize that they are the essential elements, the foundations of American cuisine in general and Southern cuisine in particular. So we have established the Tabasco Guardian of Tradition award, to be awarded at each Southern Foodways Alliance Field Trip.

“In this way we hope to bring attention to those cooks, chefs, restaurateurs and others in our various regions whose work has helped keep alive Southern foodways. We hope to remind, them, the world, and ourselves of their crucial importance in maintaining those traditions on which our cuisine, our region, and our identities are built.” Each of the Tabasco Guardians of the Tradition was presented with a special award designed by artist and MacArthur Grant recipient John T. Scott. And, of course, we collected their stories.


JOHN T. SCOTT 1940-2007
It is with great sadness that we note the passing of artist John T. Scott. Mr. Scott, a native of New Orleans and recipient of a prestigious McArthur “Genius” Fellowship, created the print we use to celebrate the life and work of our Tabasco Guardians of the Tradition.


Interviews and Photographs by Sara Roahen.

Interviews

Angelo Brocato Ice Cream & Confectionery

In a certain sense, Angelo Brocato Ice Cream & Confectionery has come a long way since its founder immigrated from Cefalù, Sicily, and opened the store in 1905.

Charlie’s Steak House

The Southern Foodways Alliance awarded Charlie’s Steak House with the Guardian of the Tradition title in July 2005 for several reasons. Among them were its decades-long persistence in oversized steaks sputtering customers with butter; its homey atmosphere, generated in large part by the restaurant’s below-average but somehow comfortable cleanliness standards; and its lone waitress, Dottye Bennett, the aging and accommodating daughter of the steakhouse’s founder.

Domilise’s Po-Boys

The modern story of Domilise’s Po-Boys rests on two women who married into the business, Dot Domilise and her daughter-in-law Patti Domilise.

Hansen’s Sno-Bliz - Ashley Hansen - New Orleans Sno-Balls

Hansen’s Sno-Bliz

The story of Hansen’s Sno-Bliz is the sort that New Orleanians love to tell. It involves a business built and sustained by three generations of one New Orleans family, it has a welcome post-Katrina happy ending despite some tragic twists, and its core narrative is all about sweetness.

Leidenheimer Baking Company

Leidenheimer Baking Co. celebrated its centennial in 1996 with a new design for the sides of its white bread trucks: local cartoonist Bunny Matthews drew his already beloved Vic and Nat’ly Broussard, typical denizens of New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, sharing a drippy shrimp po-boy and jointly exclaiming, “Sink Ya Teeth Into A Piece of New Orleans Cultcha – A Leidenheimer Po-Boy!”

Mauthe Family Dairy

The Mauthe Family Dairy’s roots are in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, where Kenny Mauthe’s grandfather first began milking cows. The farm moved to Folsom, Louisiana, when the city expanded and the Ninth Ward became more residential; eventually Kenny and his wife, Jamie, established their own farm on an impossibly green tract of land in McComb, Mississippi, where they raised four children—the fourth generation of Mauthe dairy farmers.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

The first New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival took place in 1970 at Congo Square, across Rampart Street from the French Quarter. It was a revolutionary yet modest affair in the earliest years, with just a smattering of food vendors.

Roman Chewing Candy Co.

Ron Kottemann acknowledges that New Orleanians are captivated by the very sight of the nearly century-old, wooden, mule-drawn cart that his grandfather designed and that Ron now directs down Uptown’s backstreets and through New Orleans traffic. “People look at this thing and, you know, get all gaga,” he said. And if the vision doesn’t tug at their heartstrings, Ron’s taffy-like Roman Chewing Candy hooks them at the sweet tooth.

Tommy’s Cuisine

When he got out of the Marine Corps in 1968, Milton Prudence meant to stop off in New Orleans to visit family before heading back home to New England to pursue a career in teaching. At the time, visiting his family meant visiting the kitchen at Galatoire’s, because that’s where most of them worked: his mother, his grandmother, his uncle, his cousins. Naturally he signed on, too, as a dishwasher; roughly two decades later, Mr. Prudence became Galatoire’s first African American executive chef.

Uglesich’s

On May 7, 2005, restaurateurs Anthony and Gail Uglesich retired, and with them their Central City restaurant, Uglesich’s. The corner of Baronne and Erato streets hadn’t been so quiet since at least 1928, when Anthony’s father, an immigrant from Yugoslavia, opened a modest sandwich and fried seafood shop there.

Uncle Bill’s Spices

While Lionel refuses to divulge family secrets, such as the harvest season for the leaves and how long he cures them, he takes his processing operation, his mortar and pestle, on the road to farmers’ markets and museums. Lionel is modest, but his vocation is rare enough that Slow Food included fresh hand-ground filé on its Ark of Taste. What’s more, Lionel recently convinced his eighty-two-year-old mother, previously in the camp of Louisiana cooks who prefer okra or roux thickeners, to try his filé. She’s a convert.

Vietnamese Farmers’ Market Community Gardening Project

In July 2005, the Southern Foodways Alliance presented the Ly Family with the Guardian of the Tradition award for their vision in spearheading the spectacular Vietnamese farmers’ market that opens at 5 a.m. every Saturday morning in New Orleans East and wraps up around the time that most New Orleanians are getting out of bed.

Willie Mae’s Scotch House

For nearly fifty uninterrupted years, Willie Mae Seaton presided on Saint Ann Street in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward, first as the bartender at Willie Mae’s Scotch House and then, following an expansion, as the establishment’s chef.