Philipe LaMancusa | Southern Foodways Alliance arrow left envelope headphones search facebook instagram twitter flickr menu rss play circle itunes calendar

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

< Back to Oral History project: Ya-Ka-Mein in New Orleans


Philipe LaMancusa

Kitchen Witch Cookbooks

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 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 ya-ka-mein scholar, a title we created just for him.

Date of interview:

Sara Roahen

Sara Roahen

Download Transcript



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

Let’s Stay in Touch

Sign up for the SFA newsletter to have the latest content
delivered directly to your inbox.