Philipe LaMancusa hitchhiked to New Orleans as a young adult just out of the Navy and discovered the “happy childhood” he never experienced as a New Yorker who essentially grew up in the restaurant business (his mother was a waitress, his father a cook, his stepfather a bar-and-grill owner). In the French Quarter in 1967, he found free love, hallucinogens, and a marketplace that allowed him to operate a co-op-style, communal restaurant for a time. Philipe left New Orleans to live, cook, and love in other parts of the country for many years, but he and roughly 5,000 cookbooks eventually came back. Those books became the initial inventory at Kitchen Witch Cookbooks, the “small but purrfect” (their words) French Quarter business he runs with his partner in the store and in life, Debbie Lindsay. Philipe and Debbie have nearly doubled the shop’s inventory since it opened in 1999 and do a swift business in primarily used cookbook sales. Even so, they both moonlight in the service industry to make ends meet. We interviewed Philipe for this ya-ka-mein oral history project because he is an avid ya-ka-mein eater and also a ya-ka-mein scholar, a title we created just for him.
Date of interview:
May 21, 2012