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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

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Jeffery Heard

Heard Dat Kitchen

Jeffery Heard, born in 1961, grew up in the Iberville Housing Project, right on the edge of the French Quarter. He worked as a dishwasher in high school and considers his big break scoring a position as a busser at Les Jardines in Canal Place in 1984. In six months’ time, his hustle and determination, combined with the encouragement of fellow servers, earned him the distinction of becoming the restaurant’s first black waiter. For the next thirty years, Jeff would work in the city’s hotels while also working for some of its notable restaurants like August, Christian’s, and Louis XVI.

Heard is a master of banquet service. He owns it by being “100 percent.” Today, you can find Chef Jeff running his own restaurant and catering operation in Central City at the Heard Dat Kitchen. Heard may own his own restaurant, but he describes himself as being so drawn to waiting tables that he built a forty-seat restaurant above his garage in Metairie just so he could work the dining room.

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.


Alex Raij Txikito

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