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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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Marcelle Bienvenu

Between two of her cookbooks, Who’s Your Mama, Are You Catholic, And Can You Make A Roux? and its sequel of the same name, Marcelle Bienvenu offers seven recipes for gumbo—from a relatively common chicken and oyster gumbo recipe, to one for a decidedly obscure grimille gumbo. That alone should justify her story on our Gumbo Trail, though Marcelle comes with yet more credibility.

Before turning thirty, while living in New York City, she helped craft two now-historical books on Louisiana gastronomy for Time-Life Books. Marcelle’s career then veered back toward her home state of Louisiana, specifically its restaurants: she worked at Commander’s Palace and K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans before opening her own place, Chez Marcelle, in Acadiana. Marcelle has written several cookbooks, freelanced for national food magazines, taught cooking at Nicholls State University, and maintained a recipe column in The Times-Picayune, the New Orleans-area newspaper. She lives on Bayou Teche in St. Martinville, where she cooks for entertainment year-round, occasionally burns a roux, and mostly enjoys gumbo in the wintertime.

Date of interview:

Sara Roahen


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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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