BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Fresh off those successes, he is opening a full-service version of Cru in the Feelings Cafe building in Faubourg Marigny. Martha Wiggins worked for seven years at Sylvain and even served as the restaurant’s executive chef. She has since moved on to join Alex Harrell at the Elysian Bar in the new Hotel Peter and Paul in the Faubourg Marigny. Perhaps no chef working in New Orleans today bridges the gap between the old era and the new as well as Dot Hall, the chef at Bon Ton Café on Magazine Street. She’s worked at the restaurant nearly 50 years. It’s the only job she’s ever had. “When I came here, I only came to stay two weeks,” she said in a 2013 interview for Saveur magazine. “When I looked up I had been here 40 years.” “I came as a salad person. I worked the pantry. I did that for I guess about a year,” she recalled. “I’m a very nosy person, so when I was working the pantry, I looked to see exactly what they were doing at other stations. So one day when somebody was out, I was able to move up. I moved up to fry cook. Then as things when on, I went from fry cook to second cook and then to first cook.” Despite her success, she urged her chil- dren to find other professions. “Working in a restaurant can be hard work,” she said. “Even when my kids were in school, I never allowed them to come here and work. No summer work; no nothing. It’s a lot of people that are in the restaurant business that wanted their kids to get this experi- ence, but I wasn’t one that wanted that.” Like Hall, many African American chefs have urged their children to seek careers in other professions. Hall’s three daugh- ters all pursued careers in health care. It is certainly a good thing for the city and the nation that African American professionals have broader career options than they did when Creole Feast was first published. Still, the city’s restaurant scene is somewhat impoverished by the fact that many veteran chefs have not chosen to extend their legacies through other family members.
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