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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: The Brennan Family of New Orleans


Gus Martin

Dickie Brennan and Company

Gus Martin grew up next door to his grandparents in the Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans. Martin’s family had Acadian roots. The time he spent bussing tables and washing dishes for his aunt at her restaurant in south Louisiana proved a great influence on his culinary career. Martin’s mother, Viva Marie Birou, also worked as a waitress at Brennan’s, eventually advancing to a management position at Mr. B’s Bistro.

As a teenager, Martin worked in the Commander’s Palace kitchen under Paul Prudhomme. He left Commander’s and went into the military for six and a half years. After he retired from the military, he spent a brief stint as a cook on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The job paid well, but Martin missed spending time with his wife and children. He returned to the restaurant business and went back to work at Commander’s Palace.

From 1993 to 1997, he was a sous-chef at commander’s Palace under executive chef, Jamie Shannon. In 1997, he became the chef at Palace Café. In 2015, he took over as chef at Tableau before eventually rising as executive chef of Dickie Brennan and Company. 

Date of interview:

Sara Roahen

Ava Lowrey

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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.


Alex Raij Txikito

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