Just got word that a longtime volunteer of the Crescent City Farmers Market and a personal friend passed away this week. Judy Serice was there near the beginning with the small group that founder Richard McCarthy gathered around him to help him build this dream. Judy was a true fan of the market and for the rest of her life, she always championed it in every way possible. A champion cook herself- she won a category of the Pillsbury Bake-Off with (I believe) her chicken and dumplings recipe. I’m actually angry with myself that I remember neither the details of the year (1970?) or the dish exactly, because I used to send Judy into peals of laughter when I introduced her and knew all of the details. (She also later won our Orange Julius contest partly because of her making the recipe at market in her “vintage” green mixing blender.)
Judy was a teacher by trade, a chef by talent and a mother by choice. She had a thoroughly modern view of the world, but honored the New Orleans traditions she was raised with and shared with her 3 children (John, Mark and Ashley), one of whom became a professional chef. Her advice to me while I ran the markets was invaluable, especially when it came to matters of literally, taste. Judy was always spot on with her assessment of vendors products and I actually created a “Mystery Chef” program partly because of her, which asked for anonymous evaluations of products to then share with the vendors to help them continue to refine their table.
Even after she stopped volunteering, Judy and I (and her market buddy, the ever acerbic and delightful Pat) would have lunch and chat and spend a fascinating few hours. To listen and laugh with Judy and Pat were among the best moments of my market management and my larger life in those years.
I’ll miss my buddy and always remember how a volunteer taught me so much.