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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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Nelson Gonzales

Nelson Gonzales was born in Puebla, Mexico. At age nine, his family relocated to Lafayette, Louisiana. After spending his first three years at Tulane University, Gonzales decided that New Orleans had more to offer than what he found on campus. In the late 1990s, he began working at the last of chef Kevin Graham’s fine-dining restaurants in New Orleans, Sapphire. The experience set a theme for the next twenty years of his career, during which he primarily worked in the city’s reviving Central Business District and Warehouse District. There Gonzalez enjoyed a front seat to emerging trends in New Orleans food, serving at places like Cuvée, that transcended traditional New Orleans fare.

John Besh recruited Gonzalez to work at his steakhouse in Harrah’s Casino. Today, Gonzales lives in Mid-City and works at Gabrielle Restaurant. Throughout his career, the transience of restaurant work has appealed to Gonzalez. It allows him to pursue a love of acting and the theater, a world in which he observes many parallels with the human drama that unfolds in upscale New Orleans dining rooms.

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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