THE SAINTS ISSUE
THE DOME PATROL LEGEND OF THE LINEBACKERS:
WITH GAYLE BENSON Q&A
ROUSES FALL 2023
donny rouse CEO, 3rd Generation
Photo by Channing Candies
The Home Team
Our partnership with the New Orleans Saints goes well beyond being the official grocer. Last year we established a new program, Tackle Hunger, in partnership with the Saints, to supply our food banks and food pantries across Louisiana, Missis sippi and Alabama. Thanks to your generous donations, we have already donated half a million meals to help feed and support our neighbors in need. I look forward to the good that Tackle Hunger will bring to our communities for years to come. Mrs. Benson shared her philosophies on community and leadership for this issue of our magazine. I hope her words resonate with you as they did with us. At the core of Mrs. Benson’s leadership of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans is her belief in the power of hiring the best people for the job, and investing in their success; we wholeheartedly share this philosophy at Rouses Markets. Our commitment to excellence starts with the people we recruit and hire — we draft high in the first round. Part of our investment in our team is education and training, which is ongoing. Like the Saints, we give our team everything they need to succeed on the field — or, in our case, in the field, and in the future. Like Mrs. Benson, I feel a profound sense of responsibility to the Gulf Coast, and to making my family and community proud. Whether it’s through community initiatives, charitable contributions, or simply being the first to lend a helping hand after a storm or natural disaster, we’re always ready to help. The Saints make us proud to live on the Gulf Coast. I hope we inspire the same feeling in you.
Q You took over the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans under incred ibly difficult circumstances after the death of your husband. How did you navigate this transition period? A “It was certainly a very difficult time for me and our organization, but I was blessed to have the strength of my faith and a staff that is so committed to doing what is best for our team and community. Resilience is something that is part of our DNA in our region and, together, we were able to move forward. My husband always said, ‘Tough times don’t last, but tough people do’ — and we all try to live by those words.” A Q&A with Gayle Benson , Owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans
ROUSES FALL 2023
Q Tell me a little about your relation ships with the coaches of your teams. A “They are not dissimilar from many relationships in our organization. I have always believed in hiring the very best people you can and letting them do their jobs. I believe it is my job to give them all the resources and support they need to get the job done. Fortunately, the expectations they have for themselves are just as high as the expecta tions I have — winning championships.” Q Can you share some of your most significant experiences and challenges as the owner of the Saints and the Pelicans? A “Every day presents a new set of challenges; that’s simply the way of the world we live in. The world of professional sports is certainly fascinating and highly visible, and I learned early on that you must have a thick skin in this business. My husband, Tom, was mindful of sharing so many of his experiences and successes with me as he prepared me for this role that I am in today. I feel a tremen dous responsibility to help lead teams — and people — that our community will be proud of.” A “Having grown up in New Orleans, I understand how much the Saints mean to people, and now the Pelicans too. If you look at the players who are most beloved in our community, every one of them is not just a great statistical player; they are the ones who have been most involved in serving and being a part of New Orleans and the Gulf South. I know that each person has something that moves and motivates them, and they strive to make a positive influence in our community; it is my goal to support them in worthwhile causes. I love to see the passion so many of them pour into their community efforts, and they are done for the right reasons and not for show. We are committed to our city and state, and we want to make meaningful and honest contributions. Those are daily commit ments, not something we can just do when we feel like it.” Q Can you discuss the importance of community involvement for your teams?
more people you depend on for your person nel’s success. Investing in their success is also an investment in your success.”
How do you balance the demands of owning two major sports franchises while also managing such a broad portfolio of businesses and philanthropic endeavors? A “It goes back to my previous comments. I feel my job is to clearly communicate what we are trying to accomplish and provide the support and resources to accomplish goals. We have different businesses with different departments, but the goals are common. With the number of games and other commitments I have it does not leave me with a lot of free time, but I like being busy and I enjoy work.” Q What is your vision for the future of the Saints and the Pelicans? Are there any major changes or initia tives you hope to implement in the coming years? A “My vision is winning championships that unite our city and region, and making meaningful contributions to our communities. We are always evolving and implementing new strategies, and each one is focused on making our fans first. I am really excited about the ongoing renovations of the Caesars Superdome. The result will be truly transformative, making the game experi ence significantly better for our fans. I think it is the perfect balance of preserving what people love about the Dome while adding all the modern conveniences fans expect and deserve. Q Can you share any personal experiences or values that have shaped your approach to leadership, both within your sports teams and in your other ventures? A “I have been blessed to be around some truly inspirational leaders across the different industries I am involved in, and the very best have the same characteristic of making it a point to share or give credit, rather than take it. The leaders who have the biggest impact, in my opinion, have most often been the ones who make it a point to build people up, who mentor and invest in others’ success. That kind of leadership is not just about being a good person; it is the best way to ensure success for yourself. The fact is, the higher you go, the
Q From your perspective, what do the Saints mean to the city of New Orleans? A “As I said, I am well aware of how much the Saints mean to New Orleans and feel a tremendous responsibility to make our community proud. We face a lot of challenges and difficulties here, as many places do, but our games have always been a place where everyone comes together, regardless of background, to join in a common purpose. I know how much it lifts the spirits of people when we win — and how much it hurts when we don’t. The bond between our team and fans is unique in sports — it truly is a family, and we lean on each other in good and bad times. My goal, and our team’s goal, is to make sure there are many more good times than bad! I can’t wait for the season to start and I look forward to celebrating many, many good times this year.”
Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints
DAVID W. BROWN David W. Brown is a freelance writer whose work appears in The Atlantic , The New York Times , Scientific American and The New Yorker . His most recent book, The Mission: A True Story , a rollicking adventure about a motley band of explorers on a quest to find oceans on Europa, is in bookstores now. Brown lives in New Orleans. POPPY TOOKER Poppy Tooker is a native New Orleanian who has spent her life immersed in the vibrant colors and flavors of her state. Poppy spreads her message statewide and beyond via her NPR-affiliated radio show and podcast, “Louisiana Eats!” MARY BETH ROMIG Mary Beth Romig is Associate Vice President for Public Relations for New Orleans & Company. She has been a public relations professional and a freelance writer for more than three decades. She has also served as “spotter” for the Saints Public Address announcer (originally her father, and now one of her brothers) during the team’s home games in the Caesars Superdome. SARAH BAIRD Sarah Baird is the author of multiple books, including New Orleans Cocktails and Flask . Her work has been featured in The New York Times , Washington Post , Saveur , Eater , Food & Wine and The Guardian , among others. Previously, she served as restaurant critic for the New Orleans alt-weekly, Gambit Weekly , where she won Critic of the Year in 2015 for her dining reviews. Contributors
Creative Director & Editor Marcy Nathan
Art Director & Design Eliza Schulze
Layout & Design Mary Ann Florey
Illustrator Kacie Galtier
Marketing Coordinator Harley Breaux
Copy Editor Patti Stallard
Advertising & Marketing ron bonacci Tim Acosta Amanda Kennedy Stephanie Hopkins
Nancy Besson Taryn Clement
Marketing Interns Peyton finch Charlotte Ghrist
THE SAINTS ISSUE
THE DOME PATROL LEGEND OF THE LINEBACKERS:
WITH GAYLE BENSON Q&A
ROUSES FALL 2023
Saints Training Camp 2023
Table of Contents
In Every Issue 2
50 Eat like a Local: New Orleans Vaucresson’s Creole Café by Poppy Tooker
The Home Team by Donny Rouse
6 Letter from the Editor by Marcy Nathan
Tailgate 52 Where There’s Smoked 57 No More Soggy Nachos Eat Right 60 Quarterback Snacks by Sarah Baird 62 Are your high school athletes eating the Recipes 11 Tailgate Jambalaya 43 Grape Jelly Meatballs Cocktail Meatballs Cajun Mustard Sauce rights foods? by Sarah Baird
9 Cookin’ on Hwy. 1 with Tim Acosta
13 Chip off the Old Block by Ali Rouse Royster
At Home in the Dome 22 The Romig Empire by Sarah Baird
28 Dome & Away by Sarah Baird
31 The Dome Patrol by David W. Brown
Patron Saints 36 The Patron Saint of Athletes by Sarah Baird
45 Chicken Wings ATL Wings
37 Praying for a Win by Sarah Baird
54 Classic Beef Chili
Who Dat 18
57 Pico de Gallo Quick Pickled Red Onions
The Buddy System by David W. Brown 47 We Dat’s and All That by Poppy Tooker
By Marcy Nathan
My career has been linked with the New Orleans Saints — with the coaches, players and radio personalities on WWL, the flagship station of the Saints — since my very early days in advertising. It all began with #57 Rickey Jackson of the Dome Patrol and a commercial for Radiofone, a wireless service provider in New Orleans with a very memorable jingle produced by ad man Robert Alford, who hired me to write a script for Rickey. Robert and I would go on to work together for years at his agency. In the commercial, #57 used his Radiofone to order 57 cheeseburgers, 57 fries — oh, and a diet cold drink. He had to make weight, after all. I would meet up with Rickey Jackson again years later when we sold the Hall of Famer’s smoked sausage at Rouses Markets, one of many partnerships we’ve had with former Saints players, including Joe Horn and Zach Strief. Today, we proudly feature Rickey’s fellow Dome Patrol linebacker Pat Swilling’s tequila, Avé, in our New Orleans stores. On the agency side, I also worked with Mike Ditka of “da Bears” fame during his short tenure as head coach of the Saints. When he was hired, Ditka promised owner Tom Benson and everyone else he would transform the team, but he struggled early and never found any momentum. In 1999, he traded almost all of our draft picks, plus our first-round and third-round picks from the 2000 draft, to get running back Ricky Williams. Run, Ricky, Run. This was such a big commitment on Ditka’s part that ESPN the Magazine posed Ditka as groom and Williams as bride on their cover. Our client, Radiofone, parodied the magazine cover in a commercial. Williams had a disap pointing rookie season (it happens), and Benson fired his coach, who, it turned out, didn’t know Ditka about the draft. TRAINING CAMP IN THIBODAUX In 2000, the Saints hired Jim Haslett. That year, they also brought training camp
Marcy Nathan and DePaul Smith at Saints Training Camp 2023
back to Thibodaux for the first time since the 1970s. This was the beginning of the Rouses Markets relationship with the Saints, as well as with WWL Radio. I had already worked with WWL with other clients and would meet the Rouses Markets folks in 2001. Camp was held at Nicholls State Univer sity. “John L. Guidry Stadium had, on average, 8,000 people watching practice under the lights every night,” recalls DePaul Smith, director of Saints radio sales. “I’d never been to Thibodaux before, and then I was going down every day for training camp, and the community made such an impression on me. You could see that Rouses Markets was completely at the heart of it.” As DePaul remembers, there was no rain that year — and no mosquitos. And the excitement of meeting Haslett, and players like Joe Horn, Willie Roaf, Kyle Turley, Sammy Knight, Norman Hand, La’Roi Glover and so many others — Steve Gleason was a rookie that year — height ened the energy to a fever pitch. Tim Acosta, Rouses Marketing and Advertising Director, agrees. “We were a sponsor. Every day, we were right there next to the field, cooking jambalaya for the fans who came to watch practice. At the time, with 15 stores, that felt like a significant milestone. Now, with 64 stores (and more in the works), we are the official presenting sponsor of Training Camp for the second year in a row, and the official supermarket of the New Orleans Saints. That makes me very proud.” This was before my time with Rouses Markets, but Tim remembers hearing — then seeing — Saints superfan Whistle Monsta walking up to the stadium at Nicholls. “He could whistle louder than anyone I’d ever heard before. And then to have all of the
players and coaches and fans in our stores. It was unforgettable.” Saints fans truly are the best in the NFL, and the most creative. I used to ride a River Parish Disposal trash truck around the Superdome with Supa Saint and other fans on game day. The first year the Saints had training camp back in Thibodaux, they had their first winning season in years, with an amazing 31-28 victory in the wild-card playoffs at the Superdome and Jim Henderson’s legendary call, “Hakim drops the ball! There is a God after all!” THE REMOTES As Tim recalls, we had our very first WWL live show at the new Rouses Market in Thibodaux during that 2000 training camp, and live shows throughout that summer. These were the first of hundreds of live shows (which we call remotes) to come. Now we have remotes at stores all over the Gulf Coast throughout the year. I’m usually on site, and this is one of my favorite things we do in the advertising and marketing department. You can follow along on social media to see when a remote is scheduled in your area. As I mentioned, I wasn’t there, but Tim remembers that radio personality Buddy Diliberto was at those remotes in Thibodaux, along with New Orleans Saints radio announcer Hokie Gajan. We have a story in this issue about Buddy D, whose unmis takable voice and references to callers as “squirrels” endeared him to countless fans across the Gulf Coast. I wrote a lot of commercials for Buddy D over the years (and later Hokie Gajan). It didn’t really matter what I wrote, or which client the script was for, though, because you never knew what kind of linguistic
ROUSES FALL 2023
roller-coaster you were about to ride when Buddy D went on the air — Hokie Gajan became Hokie Saigon. But his memorable mispronunciations were part of his charm. Buddy D died in January 2005. But his remarkable spirit lived on in the unforgettable Buddy D Dress Parade that unfolded after pigs flew, hell froze over, and the Saints won the NFC Championship and were on their way to the 2010 Super Bowl. Thousands of Saints fans joined forces with Bobby Hebert, WWL Radio and DePaul Smith, and our agency client, River Parish Disposal (“Our Business Stinks, But It’s Picking Up!”), the waste disposal company run by Weldon “the Gator” Frommeyer and his son “Brother” Frommeyer, the Lil Gator. Everyone came together to honor Buddy’s promise to wear a dress if the Saints made it to the Super Bowl. It was a momentous celebration honoring Buddy D and the indomitable spirit of Saints fans. It was a privilege to contribute to putting the parade together. And so, affectionately known as “Buddy’s Brawds,” thousands of men donned dresses, representing the camaraderie of football that unites us all. In that remarkable Super Bowl season, Pepsi and Rouses Markets had a meet and greet with Drew Brees planned for our customers, initially scheduled for the end of the season. But with the Saints’ winning streak, the event had to be repeatedly postponed. Finally, in February, after that onside kick, a 16-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Thomas, and a 31-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts, we were able to host the meet and greet. The moment was nothing short of electrifying when Drew Brees took charge and led us all in a spirited Super Bowl huddle chant. DEUCEBUMPS The year after Buddy died, Hokie Gajan became the voice of River Parish Disposal. Hokie’s folksy observations and one-liners — we called them “Hokie-isms” — fit perfectly with River Parish Disposal, a company with a great sense of humor. I wrote a commercial for River Parish Disposal transitioning from Buddy to Hokie with: “Let’s dedicate the season to Buddy Diliberto, boys … let’s win one for the Lipper.” The commercial only ran for two weeks before Katrina hit on August 29, 2005. I also penned commercials for Hokie for Jani-King, and, later, Rouses Markets. I still reference my favorite Hokie spot ever
— “Deucebumps,” my word that captured the essence of Hokie’s admiration for Deuce McAllister, and how excited he got when McAllister made a play. Today, we all get Deucebumps when Deuce McAllister makes an appearance in one of our stores or comes to our office. Deuce starred in our Shoppa Style commercial alongside Darwin Turner, the New Orleans West Bank rapper known as Choppa. Turner’s hit, “Choppa Style,” is a favorite in the Saints locker room, on the field and at tailgates. Our whole TV crew got Deucebumps during the Shoppa Style shoot. (I personally get Deucebumps every time Deuce refers to the big screen in the Superdome as the Rouses Markets’ Gumbotron on WWL Saints Radio.) THE BAYOU The Saints personality I’ve worked with the longest is Bobby Hebert. When Bobby talks about Rouses Markets, you know it’s true because he was born on the bayou, just like Rouses. When Bobby does a remote, it’s great radio, great entertainment and great camaraderie with the fans that come up to see him — fans of all ages. He has to have his Rouses brand Italian sparkling water, because he loves it, and a cup of black coffee. This usually involves the store manager making him fresh coffee throughout the remote because they want to impress him — they are fans, too. Bobby Hebert is truly the funniest person I know. He recently told me he was like a lizard because he doesn’t have any hair on his arms or legs. I am lucky to call Bobby a friend, but anyone who has ever talked to him in our stores walks away feeling like they are his friend. This is Bobby’s first question of everyone he meets: “Hey, where you from?” From your answer, he will play Six Degrees of Separation. Working closely with Deuce, Bobby, Mike Detillier, Mike Hoss, DePaul Smith and the rest of the WWL Radio team — along with Bobby’s son T-Bob and Guaranty Media in Baton Rouge — has been an absolute pleasure and a highlight of my career. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything — not even for almost all of the Saints’ 2024 draft picks, and the Saints first-round and third-round picks from the 2025 draft.
WWL is the flagship station of the Saints Radio Network, and the station extends the weekly action of Saints football throughout the Gulf South. Mike Hoss handles the play by-play duties, former Saints running back Deuce McAllister provides color commentary and Steve Geller is on the New Orleans sideline for all the contests. Former Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert and Steve Geller host pregame coverage, the Rouses Markets Halftime Show commentary, and “The Point After” at the conclusion of each Saints game.
Mike Detillier, Bobby Hebert, Rich Mauti and others recap
the latest Saints games on HTV’s Sports on the
Bayou presented by Rouses Markets. Tune in or stream at https://www.htv10.tv.
The NOLA.com: New Orleans Saints News app gives Saints fans exclusive access to the latest news, videos and photo slideshows from NOLA.com. Read exclusive articles about the Saints and other rival teams, catch live social media updates from fans and experts, view and submit photos from the game.
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jambalaya — though I cannot imagine recommending any of these. Pointing to a prep station lined with ingredients he had sliced and diced for the jambalaya, Tim explained, “This is my three-three-three recipe.” Depending on the size of the pot and the number of people he needs to feed, his jambalaya recipe scales up or down. This one, he said, will serve 20 people. “There’s three pounds of pork, three pounds of chicken and three pounds of sausage.” Those aren’t the only threes in the recipe, as I soon learned. This was not an everyday jambalaya, or a box jambalaya — both of which have their places in our busy lives. No, this was serious business jambalaya. The process so far had taken two hours of prep and browning, beginning with the bacon, all the way through the trinity. While Tim cooked, now pouring into the pot two containers of low-sodium chicken stock and one of vegetable (three stocks), I watched as a young cook on the other side of the bustling kitchen space seasoned rotisserie chickens, placing each on a pan spaced just so, all bound eventually for a good oven-roasting. Nearer to me, another cook tended to a deep fryer, keeping close watch on chicken turning golden brown in a slightly sizzling oil. These, the cook said, were for chicken sandwiches. He had already prepped dozens of buns with Rouses special dressing. We both kept a watchful eye on some wire baskets bearing Cajun-seasoned fries. I had skipped lunch and, in the presence of all this culinary bounty, I was starving . I glanced at the pot, which was filled with more liquid than I would have expected. I wasn’t sure how Tim would handle that. “When I add the parboiled rice, it’ll absorb all of it,” he assured me — and yes, you guessed it, he used three pounds of rice. He occasionally stirred the pot to make sure nothing was sticking to the bottom. “This part doesn’t take too long,” he said. As the broth slowly began to boil, he pulled a couple of clean spoons from a box, handing me one. We each tasted the liquid. It burst with flavor. “Once I put the lid on, that’s it — you don’t get to look anymore. If you’re looking, you ain’t cooking!” (I had a feeling this wasn’t the first time he’d made that pronouncement.) He stirred the rice to distribute it evenly in the pot among the ingredients as the broth continued its journey to a full boil. Parboiled rice was best, Tim explained, because it absorbed more liquid than other types. When at last the broth reached a boil, he covered the pot and reduced the heat to a simmer. It would take about 20 minutes to cook, he said. “This is better when you’re cooking it outside, drinking a cold beer,” he joked. We stepped back from the stove while everything heated and chatted for a bit. Across the kitchen, the chef tended to the deep fryer, moving the fried chicken and French fries to stainless steel bins, which he set next to the buns he had prepped. He expertly transferred each chicken breast from bin to bun, one after the other. He offered me a chicken sandwich, though I reluctantly refused, saving my feverish appetite for
Photo by Channing Candies
Cookin’ on Hwy. 1 David W. Brown with Tim Acosta, Rouses Markets Advertising & Marketing Director Tim Acosta was already at work in the kitchen at the Rouses Market on Baronne Street in New Orleans, browning ingredients with a wooden spoon in a big iron pot on the stove, when I arrived. T im is the Marketing & Advertising Director for Rouses Markets. Every time I write a story about Cajun cooking, he is the first person I call. Today he had invited me to watch and learn how he makes jambalaya. Now, I grew up near and went to high school in Gonzales, Louisiana — the “Jambalaya Capital of the World,” an honor the town takes very seriously — so I certainly wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to witness the preparation of a real Cajun jambalaya. In Gonzales, jambalaya must be brown. If you order jambalaya in New Orleans it is likely to be “red jambalaya,” or Creole jambalaya, which is made with tomatoes, a staple ingredient in Creole cuisine. Do not bring your red jambalaya to Gonzales, and certainly not to its annual Jambalaya Festival, in which locals compete for the title of world champion. There, it’s brown or nothing. “There are as many ways to do a jambalaya as there are people,” Tim told me. “It’s like gumbo or boiling crawfish. This is just how one Cajun guy from Thibodaux on the bayou does it.” Regional ingredients drive jambalaya’s myriad recipes, which is why you can find not only the classic chicken and sausage Cajun jambalaya, but also things like bison, bear, salmon, rattlesnake — even, according to my Google search of random animals, kangaroo
“Once I put the lid on, that’s it — you don’t get to look anymore. If you’re looking, you ain’t cooking!”
the jambalaya. It was not easy. We kept an eye on the pot for steam to blow from beneath the lid. Too much, said Tim, and you should lower the heat so the bottom of the jambalaya doesn’t burn. But no matter what, he said, it was important to keep the lid on the pot. That steam is what is cooking the rice. You lift the lid and let it out, and you risk ruining the dish. After monitoring the steam for a bit, Tim leaned down and listened to the pot. “The jambalaya can tell you when it’s ready,” he said. “You can hear it bubbling slightly. Give it a listen.” I did, and there was
indeed the babbling of jambalaya from within. “You are listening for when it is absorbed in the rice,” said the Jambalaya Whisperer (my new nickname for Tim). “It will get quieter.” After a bit, he again leaned in and listened to the jambalaya in the pot. About 25 minutes after the lid went on the pot, the jambalaya told Tim it was time to switch off the heat. It would still need another 20 minutes or so to set, the rice absorbing the last of the stock and flavors. The wait was interminable. By then, the entire Rouses Magazine team
10 ROUSES FALL 2023
TAILGATE JAMBALAYA Serves 20
had gathered around the pot: They were beyond ready…salivating, positively starving. Tim removed the lid and fluffed the rice, and you could see the sausage, chicken and pork peeking out from within. The jambalaya he revealed was the proper color, a stunning golden brown — a real Gonzales brown! — and the aroma of the dish filled the room. Frustratingly, though, our enjoyment of it was delayed further: It still needed to be photographed. But once that was done, and the magazine cover was set, we grabbed forks and plates, and no one was shy about digging in. Folks, even by the stringent Gonzales standards, it was a master piece. Just to be 100% sure, however, I had seconds. And then thirds. THE PRESEASON GAME When you purchase cast-iron cookware, Tim said, whether a skillet, stovetop pot or giant jambalaya pot, the first thing you must do is season it. This is necessary to protect the pot from rust and the elements. In the old days, these black iron pots came coated in a wax resin that would need to be burned off on an outdoor stove. That is not so much a problem these days, and many come pre-seasoned. If yours is not, however, or if you inherited a little-used pot and want to season it, Tim has some advice. “The old timers used lard,” he said. “You coat the whole thing in lard, and cook it.” Medium is the magic setting. After about an hour, the iron will be pretty hot. Turn off the heat, let the pot cool, and then reheat it again. After it again cools, turn the pot upside down and coat the exterior in lard, and do it all over again. It is important to do this on an outside burner or barbecue pit because the oil will smoke, and you don’t want your house to smell like the back of a fast food restaurant. Tim says lard is fine, but he has an even better method. “I use bacon,” he said. “Good old-fashioned bacon grease.” Slather it inside and out. The process is the same, and you get to eat bacon while you do it. To clean cast-iron cookware, never use soap. This cookware should be cleaned only with hot water and a scouring pad. Each time you use the pot, explained Tim, you can use a little bit of vegetable oil or other light coating to protect the metal from tarnish after rinsing it. But the real secret to keeping your cast iron in top form? “You’ve got to use it!” he said with a laugh.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 1 12-ounce package Rouses Hickory Smoked Bacon, diced 3 pounds Rouses Smoked Green Onion Sausage, cut into ½-inch slices 3 pounds boneless Boston butt pork roast, diced into bite-size pieces Salt and pepper, to taste 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, diced into bite-size pieces Cajun seasoning, to taste 3 (32-ounce) containers of Rouses Fresh Cut Seasoning Mix (or 32 ounces of a blend of onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, parsley and green onions, finely chopped) 2-3 bay leaves 2 (10-ounce) cans original Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles 2 (32-ounce) containers unsalted chicken stock 1 (32-ounce) container unsalted vegetable stock 3 tablespoons Cajun Power Garlic Sauce, or more to taste 3 to 5 dashes hot sauce 3 to 5 dashes Worcestershire sauce 3 to 5 dashes Pickapeppa Sauce 3 pounds of Rouses Parboiled Rice Finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and green onions, for garnish HOW TO PREP: Add bacon to a large cast-iron jambalaya pot (10-quart or larger) and cook over medium heat until just crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove bacon and place on paper towels to drain. If you feel that there’s too much oil left in the pot, blot some of it out with paper towels. Brown the sausage in the bacon fat, stirring slowly with a long wooden spoon to build color. Transfer the sausage to paper towels to drain, using a slotted spoon so the rendered fat drips back into the pan. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Brown the pork until tender and lightly crispy, stirring slowly with the wooden spoon to build color. Transfer to plate when done. Season the chicken with Cajun seasoning and add it to the pot. Brown the chicken, then add the fresh cut seasoning mix and sauté until the onions in the mix are translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the bay leaves, and sauté for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Return the reserved pork, smoked sausage and bacon to the pot along with the Ro-Tel. Stir in the chicken stock, vegetable stock, additional Cajun seasoning to taste, Cajun Power Garlic Sauce, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and Pickapeppa to the pot, and stir. Turn the heat up to high until the mixture starts to boil, then lower the heat to medium. Let cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the parboiled rice to the pot and stir until the rice is completely covered with the liquid. Cover the pot. When you see steam escaping from under the lid, reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Do not remove the lid during this process.
Remove the cover and stir the jambalaya to combine all the flavors. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Top jambalaya with chopped parsley and green onions before serving.
MANDA-TORY for every game.
Chip Off The Old Block By Ali Rouse Royster, 3 rd Generation I live by my calendars — yes, plural! I have a few, each with their own very unique purpose. They’re color-coded and I cannot deal without them. (Tell me you’re a firstborn child without telling me you’re a firstborn
Photo by Channing Candies
child… ). One of my very favorite routines of fall is blocking in Saints games on Sundays on the calendar. Home game or away game, we’ll be watching our Saints play! And as much as I love going to the Dome, I love watching games at home just as much. It’s a whole different experience — the Dome is electric, you’re so in the moment, and it feels like you’re practically a part of the team. At home, though, there’s a certain routine about a Saints Sunday. For us, it’s making sure we’ve already gone to Rouses to shop for the week ahead of time, then going
to Mass at 9:30am (and seeing lots of the congregation in their Black & Gold gear), then heading home to make lunch and game-day grub. My favorite thing to make is guacamole, which should come as no surprise because my dad, Tommy Rouse, believes he is the king of guac (does this make me a princess?!). He makes it all the time, and has been known to have it out at Thanksgiving for a pre-turkey snack. It makes no sense, but we roll with it, because it’s delicious. I also make a mean guac, but — if you have on your pearls, get ready to clutch them — I don’t use my dad’s recipe. I use my own, and it’s delish, if I do say so myself. I won’t say it’s better, because I’m such a good daughter, but it’s definitely different. Like guac, I am
a bit extra, so I make it with a molcajete (like a mortar and pestle) and we eat it out of that with warmed Hola Nola Chips — yum! Tommy’s guac recipe is in our archives (www.rouses.com), but feel free to try out mine too and see which one you like best! Quite a few of my friends and cousins have adopted my recipe as their own, and even my 8-year-old approves. And, because I am nothing but my father’s daughter, I even made it for Easter last year.
ALI’S GUACAMOLE Serves 6 - 8
WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 1 ripe tomato, deseeded and dejellied, and finely chopped 3 tablespoons diced white onion 2 serrano chilies, finely chopped (can substitute deseeded jalapeños, but Rouses usually has serrano chilies) Juice from half a lime (approximately 1-1.5 tablespoons) Heaping ½ teaspoon minced garlic Heaping ½ teaspoon sea salt (basically, to taste) 3 ripe Haas avocados 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely minced
HOW TO PREP: Put the tomato, onion, chilies, lime juice, garlic and sea salt in a molcajete or small bowl, and smash with a pestle or fork into a coarse paste. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop the flesh into the tomato mixture. Add the minced cilantro, and mix and mash, leaving some lumps. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt. Serve with Hola Nola restaurant style Tortilla Chips, warmed according to the instructions on the package.
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The Buddy System By David W. Brown
We didn’t often go to Saints games when I was a kid, but when we did, the Saints usually lost. I don’t think it was our fault, and there was a good stretch there in 1991 where the Dome Patrol and the Cha-Ching guy helped us finish first in the NFC West. (I remember that season as clearly as the year we won the Super Bowl, down to the front pages of The Times-Picayune and the morning issue of The Advocate . Quarterback Bobby Hebert even made the cover of Sports Illustrated that year.) W hat I recall most vividly after a game in those days was sitting with my family for what
to television on WVUE-TV and WDSU-TV, becoming sports director for the latter; and landed finally on radio, with a daily show. Everyone knew Buddy D. He was a Louisiana fixture with a voice that simply defied imitation, or even description. After wading through his almost impenetrable New Orleans accent, you still had to contend with a melodic cadence that seemed always to zig where you thought it might zag. He spoke in a kind of jovial bark that men of his generation had, but sadly no longer do. His voice was to the ears what your grand mother’s kitchen was to your sense of smell; you can recall it immediately and precisely. As Jim Henderson, the former play-by-play announcer on Saints Radio, observed at a roast of Buddy D in 2003: “It was Ralph
to Diliberto’s show to discuss Jim Mora, and the sheer New Orleans nostalgia of it all nearly unraveled the space-time continuum. (If someone had sung the Rosenberg’s Furniture Store address jingle aloud at that moment, we would have been done for.) But hearing that voice again made me 30 years younger, a kid in the back seat of my mom’s car. The genius of Buddy D was that he made it fun to listen to sports talk even when the Saints were routed on the field — which they frequently were in those days, hard as it might be to remember in a post-Brees world. (Although, the 2022 season was a bleak reminder of those Bad Old Days.) During particularly grim stretches, Diliberto called his show “Saints Anonymous,” and callers would begin with such lines as, “Hey Buddy, my name is Carl. I live in Slidell and I am a 20-year Saints fan.” Buddy D was, to put it mildly, a
seemed like hours in Superdome parking lot traffic, while on the car radio on WWL 870 AM, commenting on the spectacle we’d just witnessed, was a nearly unintelligible man named Bernard Diliberto — better known throughout the state as simply Buddy D. “When Buddy came, he just elevated the whole ‘sports talk’ thing,” says De Paul Smith, the director of Saints Radio Sales at WWL Radio. “Back then, talk radio didn’t have those kinds of great big personalities doing sports. But Buddy changed that, and coming from newspapers first, and television second, radio was the best medium for him. He could really elaborate on his opinions and have fun — and man, he was good at it.” For 50 years, Diliberto reported on sports in New Orleans across all media. His opinions were deeply informed by a lifetime of sports reporting — and opinions he had, especially about the New Orleans Saints. He started in print in 1950, at The Times Picayune , ultimately becoming the paper’s daily sports columnist. From there, he moved
Waldo Emerson who once said, ‘To be great is to be misunderstood.’ We haven’t been able to understand Buddy Diliberto for 50 years.” While writing this piece,
fierce and m o c k i n g critic of the way the New Orleans Saints
I found old clips of his show, including one from 1995, when Morgus the Magnificent called in
BUDDY D’S ORGINAL SMITH CORONA
18 ROUSES FALL 2023
Courtesy NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune | The Advocate
distraught Saints fans in the audience with their Schwegmann’s grocery store attire adorned with eyeholes, beads and pithy messages to the team. Today, distressed fans from every losing franchise have since adopted the tradition. His uncompromising attitude sometimes led to a misconception that Buddy D hated the Saints. And because of how withering (and accurate) his criticisms could be, Saints
management even kicked him off the team plane. The ban wasn’t for a single season, though — it was for life, plus 10 years “in case you are Lazarus,” said management. Diliberto took it in stride. He was just doing his job. “For journalists back then,” says Smith, “you were never supposed to be a fan. Buddy would never wear Saints gear. Ever. They
front office and coaching staff ran the team, and of a great many plays called on the field. (My mom once quipped that the Saints could win the Super Bowl and Buddy D would still spend half his show criticizing some play in the second quarter.) Forget reporting live from the Superdome. On television, Buddy D sometimes reported on the Saints from funeral homes and cemeteries, arguing that the interred were more alive than the New Orleans team. During the 1980 season, he wore a paper bag over his head on the air to maintain anonymity as a Saints fan, and vowed to do so until the “Aints” — which he helpfully printed on the bag — won a game. They finally did, in December, going 1-15 for the season. The paper bag tradition caught fire, with Monday Night Football viewers from across the country noticing the
During the 1980 season, he wore a paper bag over his head on the air to maintain anonymity as a Saints fan, and vowed to do so until the “Aints” — which he helpfully printed on the bag — won a game.
later graduating from Loyola. But there are a lot of native New Orlea nians. Buddy D would become the voice of the city — and a very unique voice at that, in a city of very unique voices. He did not offer commentary maliciously, and was not driven by ego. This is perhaps best reflected in the name of the radio show he hosted during the apex of his career, “Hap’s Point
Orleans football. “Not all the players liked Buddy,” he told me, “and I don’t think Coach Mora liked him being so honest all the time. I never had a problem with him, though — he was speaking the truth. And I think he liked that when he asked me something, I gave him an honest opinion.” When Buddy D moved to WWL Radio, everyone seems to agree that he hit his stride. I think the reason for his success, aside from his colorful antics and distinct New Orleanian charm, is that he spoke to listeners on a much deeper level than we realized. Long before he sat in a studio, Buddy D sat behind a typewriter. He was a writer. We think of sports as a visual medium — I mean, there’s a reason they charge so much for those seats — but take away the play-by play announcements, the referee appearing on the Gumbotron declaring with stentorian authority, “Pass interference,10-yard penalty,” and the cheers and jeers of the crowd, and even the most gripping of sporting events could be jaw-clenchingly boring. Sports is more than a spectacle. On every gridiron in every stadium, what you are experiencing is a story being told. Football especially fits the classical “hero’s journey” as if by design, which makes every visit to the Superdome a kind of Lord of the Rings or Star Wars experience. The pregame show on radio is the “call to adventure,” in which we learn a little about our heroes (the New Orleans Saints, naturally — all others are villains). Our heroes “cross the threshold” when they walk out onto the field, and then experience their challenges and temptations, and an abyss and a rebirth, and (if we are lucky) a triumph. Talk radio after the game is the “road the hero takes back to the ordinary world.” Buddy D helped us understand the story we had just experienced. He brought order to chaos. He made it all make sense, the good and the bad.
Bobby Hebert wore a dress during a parade to honor the legendary sportscaster Buddy Diliberto. Photo by Rusty Costanza courtesy NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune | The Advocate
After.” Diliberto inherited the show from Lloyd “Hap” Glaudi — known as the “dean of New Orleans sportscasters” — after Glaudi died. Diliberto kept the name. He also was glad to share his airtime with the city. “Buddy allowed his callers to be genuine characters on his show,” says Smith. “And New Orleans is full of characters. Buddy had this innate ability to really understand New Orleans, and knew how to make it stir. But he wasn’t always fun and games. Really, 95% of Buddy’s content was rich with serious insight, and he was somebody who was always making a point. But that 5% when Buddy was funny — it was like, you’d think he was funny all the time.” He wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power. In the 1996 season, the Saints went 3-13, and Tom Benson, then the team’s owner, did not have a post-season press conference. Diliberto took umbrage. “So, Buddy started saying, ‘Where’s the emperor? The emperor has not come out to talk to us yet. Until the emperor comes out and talks to us, let’s boycott tickets!’” says Smith. I called Bobby Hebert, famed former quarterback of the Saints, and asked what it was like on the other side of Buddy D’s unflinching commentaries on the state of New
always wanted to be unbiased. Buddy’s take on the team was for them to create change so that they would win.” And he desperately wanted them to win. In many ways, Buddy D was the ultimate Saints fan. “I work for the guy that sits up in Section 635 that has no voice to make change on the team,” Smith recalls Buddy saying. “The people that have been given an opportunity to create change have a tremendous respon sibility, because they have to do it. And I’ve been given the chance to make some change, to speak for the masses.” Diliberto even quoted the Book of Matthew as a way of describing his charge: “No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.” Buddy D was more than a football fan and journalist. He was a father and husband, and served in the Korean War, earning a Purple Heart after taking shrapnel. He was deeply religious — a daily communicant, attending Mass every day. He was an avid gambler (“He’d bet on anything,” one friend of his told me with a laugh.) He was a native New Orleanian, attending Jesuit High School and
“Buddy had taught us how it was done. You have to feel like you are a mouthpiece for the fans. That’s how Buddy did it, and that’s the approach I take day in and day out. You have to separate yourself from the team, and be on the common man’s side.” - Bobby Hebert, famed former quarterback of the Saints
“Buddy’s Brawds” photo courtesy DePaul Smith
20 ROUSES FALL 2023
And sometimes, that story was a comic tragedy. In light of that, Diliberto once made a famous vow on the air: “If the Saints ever make it to the Super Bowl, I’m going to wear a dress and dance through the streets.” He made this promise secure in the knowledge that he would never have to make good on it. (He did, however, comfort younger callers and listeners, telling them: “You’ve got time. You might see a Super Bowl.”) Buddy D died on January 7, 2005 of a heart attack. Hebert was WWL’s first choice to inherit Diliberto’s show. Maybe it was the voice, he joked. “Buddy had his own speech issues and can’t say certain words, and then they get Hebert, a Cajun, and I had a thicker accent than him!” Before his unexpected death, Buddy D played a big role in bringing Hebert to WWL. “I was doing some radio in Atlanta, things like shows on the Falcons draft, and Falcons pregame and postgame shows, and Buddy called me up,” Hebert recalls. “He and WWL had me come to do the Saints draft show in 2004. I thought that was a one-time thing, and then as Buddy got older, he wanted some help for a lot of shows as a duo instead of him by himself.” Hebert agreed to do that for the 2005 season, but then Diliberto died, and WWL asked the Saints’ former star quarterback to take the job officially. “Buddy had taught us how it was done,” Hebert says. “You have to feel like you are a mouthpiece for the fans. That’s how Buddy did it, and that’s the approach I take day in and day out. You have to separate yourself from the team, and be on the common man’s side.” Five years after the city lost Diliberto, the New Orleans Saints beat the Minnesota Vikings in overtime to clinch the NFC Champi onship, securing their place in Super Bowl XLIV. One week before the final matchup against the Colts, Saints fans, led by Hebert, made good on Buddy D’s promise. Hebert and the crowd wore dresses and paraded from the Superdome to the French Quarter. “We got in a little bit of trouble with the city,” Hebert says, “because we got a last minute permit. We thought there would be a few thousand people, maybe.” Instead, he says, 80,000 people showed up: a crowd of men in dresses stretching from the Dome to Oceana Grill on Bourbon St. at Conti. There was barely room to stand, let alone move, and it took five hours to get from start to finish.
Thomas “Tuna” Seither, the artist, is celebrating Buddy “D” Diliberto, a New Orleans sportscaster, through a painting that depicts Buddy D. in his office at WWL Radio studios, surrounded by items from his long history as a sportscaster.
from my own experiences.” New Orleans is a city of the world. I travel extensively for my job, and not once in all these years, when asked, have I said that I live in New Orleans and the person’s eyes not lit up. “Really?” they invariably say, as though I lived in Oz or on the international space station. New Orleanians know the day-to-day headaches of life here — every city has them (though probably with better roads). What we offer to the world, though, is something no one else can: a distinct and beautiful culture of art, spirit and cuisine, forged across a sometimes painful and ugly history, but one that is recognized the world over as the best humanity has to offer. Buddy
“It was so cold that day,” he remembers. “We were feeling so good. It could have been in the teens and I don’t think we would have felt the pain. And they were all there for Buddy. The fans demanded we do that parade for him, and they turned up. It was such a great day, but man, the next morning was hard.” As for his radio show, Hebert still recog nizes that he’s filling big shoes of perhaps the best-loved football commentator the city ever saw. “I didn’t go to school for journalism, but I have the gift of gab,” Hebert says. “You just go with the ebb and flow, and you have to respect the fans and callers. They know their football. And Buddy D understood that.” He continues, “And
D was a product and emissary of this city. He was born of it, he added to it, and he shared it with all the world. He gave voice to the voiceless and laughter to downtrodden sports fans — those at home, and those trapped in the Superdome parking lot. But to get his message across, sometimes it required that he do so wearing a paper bag on his head.
like Buddy, I bring my own special experiences to the show. Someone can give their opinion, and I will respect it, but I will also disagree and tell them, ‘No, you don’t understand. It’s not like that on the field.’ Buddy D could educate fans from a perspective of 50 years covering sports. When they were wrong, he’d call them a squirrel. And I can educate them
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