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Josephine Phillips Cormier raised eight children and worked for thirteen years at Walmart before she opened her eponymous St. Martinville restaurant in honor of her late father. While Josephine didn’t even start cooking until after she was married, she appreciated her father’s cookery, and the culinary heritage he bequeathed his family, from a young age. A field worker by profession, he performed boucheries, made his own boudin and tasso, and cooked for funerals and weddings in the community. When he passed away, Josephine made a commitment to carry on her father’s cooking traditions.
Today, Josephine and her husband, Wilray, make good on that commitment by waking with the sun to put okra to smother, eggs to boil, and gumbo to simmer. On Wednesdays year-round, they sell out of their roux-free shrimp and okra gumbo—served with deep-fried chicken and potato salad—before noon. Chicken and sausage gumbo and crab and shrimp gumbo (both made with a peanut-butter-colored roux) appear frequently in the cooler months. Josephine has a quiet manner but she cooks with a point of view: she doesn’t like dark rouxs, slimy okra, or potato salad in her gumbo. And though none of her gumbos contain filé, she does keep some behind the counter for customers who ask.