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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

< Back to Oral History project: Ya-Ka-Mein in New Orleans


Chip Flanagan

Ralph's on the Park

If Chip Flanagan isn’t the first chef to put ya-ka-mein on the menu of a white-tablecloth, fine dining restaurant in New Orleans, he certainly wasn’t following documented precedent. A native New Orleanian who grew up in the suburb of Metairie and earned a fine arts degree from New York University before studying the culinary arts at Delgado Community College back home, Chip didn’t taste ya-ka-mein for the first time himself until a fellow kitchen worker introduced him to it around the year 2000.

It didn’t spark his culinary creativity until more than a decade later. But ever since he and his sous-chef at Ralph’s on the Park perfected their version—housemade tagliatelle sauced with a rich veal stock reduction and shiitake mushrooms, and crowned with seared pork belly, a fried egg basted in butter, hot sauce, and green onions—he hasn’t stopped fielding questions and interview requests about it.

They serve a more traditional but still spiffy version at festivals and other outdoor events, one made with manufactured bucatini, a soupier broth, a “hard-boiled” egg cooked sous-vide on site, thinly sliced flank steak, and green onions all mingling in a Styrofoam cup.

Date of interview:

Sara Roahen

Sara Roahen

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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