< Back to Oral History project: Southern Gumbo Trail
A native of New Orleans, Billy Gruber grew up in the restaurant business. His father, William J. Gruber, opened his first restaurant at the age of nineteen. Over the years, the Grubers have operated more than a handful of cafés. But not until Billy opened the neighborhood joint, Liuzza’s by the Track, did he actually put gumbo on the menu. Today Billy makes what he calls a Creole gumbo; the recipe is a nod to his mother’s Cajun heritage, but Billy has definitely made the dish his own. Starting with a nearly black roux, Billy layers flavor after flavor, adding locally-made sausage, cooked-to-order seafood, and a secret mixture of thirteen seasonings. And to many people’s surprise, there’s quite a lot of okra in there, too—another one of Billy’s tricks that keeps bringing folks back for more.