10 Years After Katrina, Part 1 – Tragedy To Triumph – Louisiana Eats – It’s New Orleans

As the 10th anniversary of the storm approaches, the echoes of Hurricane Katrina and resulting levee failures continue to affect individuals and businesses within the food industry. On this week’s Louisiana Eats!, we begin our two-part series on the storm with stories about the aftermath of Katrina on local bars, restaurants, and facilities; and learn how the community has come back in a big way.

We begin with Pauline and Steven Patterson of Finn McCool’s Irish Pub, who opened their popular Mid-City haunt in 2002. When Finn’s was hit particularly hard by the storm, the Pattersons’ decision to reopen played an essential role in the the revitalization of the neighborhood. We also visit Dooky Chase, where Leah Chase talks about the two-year restoration of the culinary landmark.

 The interior of Finn McCool's, September 11, 2005. Credit: Ian McNulty

Photos of Finn McCool’s, September 11, 2005. Credit: Ian McNulty

Then, Anne Babin and John Lalla of Natco Food Service share their shocking tale of what happened to their family business, located in Uptown New Orleans when Katrina hit. Vandalism, martial law and mounds of spoiled meat are just a few of the obstacles they had to deal with before successfully regaining their footing a month later. Similarly, storm damage to the Domino Sugar Refinery in Arabi, Louisiana was so extensive that insurance companies insisted that the plant would never recover. Fred Goodrow, head of environmental and quality control at the refinery, explains how the facility was up and running weeks later, doing more than just refining sugar.

Finally, we sit down with food writer Judy Walker to hear the story behind the cookbook that rescued precious recipes saved by generations and lost in the flood waters. Written with fellow Times-Picayune columnist Marcelle Bienvenu, the James Beard Award-nominated book, Cooking up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, is currently being reissued in hardback. Judy reflects on this undertaking and the book’s impact across Louisiana.

For more information about the upcoming Louisiana Eats & Cooks Club featuring Judy Walker and Marcelle Bienvenu, visit the Southern Food & Beverage Museum’s website.

Leah Chase’s Gumbo Z’Herbes
Serves 8

1 bunch mustard greens

1 bunch collard greens

1 bunch turnips

1 bunch watercress

1 bunch beet tops

1 bunch carrot tops

½ head lettuce

½ head cabbage

1 bunch spinach

2 medium onions (chopped)

4 cloves garlic (mashed and chopped)


1 lb. smoked sausage

1 lb. smoked ham

1 lb. chaurice (hot)

1 lb. boneless brisket

5 tbsp. flour

1 tsp. thyme

1 tbsp. salt

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tbsp. filé powder

Clean all vegetables, making sure to pick out bad leaves and rinse away all grit. In a large pot place all greens, onions and garlic. Cover with water and boil for 30 minutes. While this is boiling, cut all meats and sausages into bite-size pieces and set aside. Strain vegetables after ham, smoked sausage and 2 cups reserved liquid and steam for 15 minutes. While steaming place chaurice in skillet and steam until chaurice is rendered (all grease cooked out). Drain chaurice, keeping the grease in the skillet and set aside.

All vegetables must be puréed. This can be done in a food processor or by hand in a meat grinder. Heat the skillet of chaurice grease and stir in flour. Cook roux for 5 minutes or until flour is cooked (does not have to brown). Pour roux over meat mixture, stir well. Add vegetables and 2 quarts reserved liquid. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Add chaurice, thyme, salt and cayenne pepper; stir well. Simmer for 40 minutes. Add filé powder; stir well and remove from heat. Serve over steamed rice.