< Back to Oral History project: The Lives and Loaves of New Orleans
Before Hurricane Katrina and the failures of the federal levee system in 2005, Tia Moore-Henry was studying to be a nurse. Her husband, Fred Henry, was a compliance monitor for the Orleans Parish School Board, and his sister, Keisha Henry, was a psychotherapist. Ten years later, the three have reinvented themselves as partners at Café Dauphine in the historic Holy Cross section of the Lower Ninth Ward, where Fred and Keisha grew up. None of them had ever worked in restaurants before. Naïveté and the mighty cooking gene that dominates DNA all across Louisiana aided them in making a big leap: they bought a corner store that had flooded eleven feet during the storm and turned it into a white-tablecloth destination for Gulf seafood pastas, baby back ribs, stuffed bell peppers, and gumbo made with a five-hour roux. Tia takes the day shift, while Keisha, who still works as a therapist, is Café Dauphine’s evening manager. Fred found work as a contractor after Katrina and takes charge of the restaurant’s renovations and maintenance, in addition to washing dishes and doing bookwork. Like many fine-dining restaurants in New Orleans, Café Dauphine’s menu has a strong sandwich section, offering fried and grilled seafood, hot sausage, and roast short-rib po-boys—sautéed onions and peppers optional but recommended on the latter.
Audio production by Thomas Walsh.