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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 annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

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Harold "Rick" Hughes

Harold “Rick” Hughes, born in 1953, grew up in a military family. He began waiting tables in New Orleans on the eve of the World’s Fair after leaving the Texas oil field bust. In 1981, he got a job as a server at a lunch place called La Boucherie in the French Quarter. He heard waiters from Brennan’s talking about the good money they made. Determined to get a job there, Hughes pretended to be someone else to convince the maître’d that he was the friend-of-a-friend they were expecting, becoming “Rick” in the process.

At Brennan’s he began to see a career that he was not only good at, but that was also compatible with a lifestyle marked by periods of restlessness. Hughes has waited tables at some of New Orleans’s best fine-dining restaurants such as the fabled Caribbean Room at the Pontchartrain Hotel, Christian’s, Broussard’s, and Arnaud’s. Hughes is happy to leave behind the stress and pressure he found in those fast-paced high-end big landmark restaurants. Today, when he is not out fishing, he works the dining room at the Orleans Avenue establishment Gabrielle Restaurant.

Date of interview:

Justin Nystrom

L. Kasimu Harris

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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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