Tom Spicer, the man who taught Dallas how to eat better, has died

Met him once and had a fascinating conversation on food and New Orleans and markets and restaurants and a few other topics. He was a true New Orleanian: engaging, voluble, opinionated and talented at a wide range of crafts.
People like this are necessary to those of us waging the often-solitary fight to build a sustainable food system piece by piece, person by person: they inspire and challenge us with their words and their actions. Thank you Spiceman. Tom Spicer, the man who taught Dallas how to eat better, has died | Dallas Morning News.

2009 Profile

an example of the type of comments left on Dallas sites upon news of his passing:
Tom Spicer meant more to me being in business than anyone. He was one of my first customers and he encouraged me from the very beginning. Tom gave me a list of my best accounts to this day! Tom was so passionate and fun to speak with , he started me off on my food journey in life and was essential in helping my company get started. Fennel and dill pollen spice would never be here today without Tom Spicer.

Michel Nischan

Great interview with Michel Nischan, founder of Wholesome Wave and long time Farm To Table chef. He tells Louisiana Eats host Poppy Tooker about how and why he created his public role.” title=”Interview withMichel Nischan by Poppy Tooker”

10 Things I Hate: Chris Hastings

From Food Republic:

Life is filled with wonderful things and terrible things. During interviews, however, we pretty much only get to hear about the wonderful things. Ten Things I Hate is a chance for people in the food world to get things off their chest. We ask them what they hate, they give us a list. Next up: Birmingham chef Chris Hastings.

10 Things I Hate: Chris Hastings | Food Republic.

The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine-New Orleans

One of the most exciting developments in food and health is happening in my own town of New Orleans and right in my neighborhood. Very proud of this work being done by “Dr. Gourmet” (who happens to be my mom’s doctor), Tulane University and the good people of Broad Community Connections.

The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine is a first-of-its kind center dedicated to comprehensively integrating nutrition and dietary intervention strategies into medical school curriculum,” said Dr. Benjamin Sachs, senior vice president and dean of Tulane University School of Medicine. “The goal is to train doctors not only how food choices affect health and disease progression but also how to translate this information in practical ways that empower patients to lead healthier lives.”

Inside Tulane Med.

Oxford Canteen

My pal Corbin Evans has made his way (going the long way from New Orleans to Philly to Brooklyn and maybe a few other stops in there since) to Oxford, Mississippi. His new lunch place there with seasonal locally sourced products is a hit this summer, which is no surprise as he is an award-winning chef and a well-liked guy everywhere he goes. He served as the Board President of Market Umbrella in New Orleans after the federal levee breaks and did tons of other unheralded support work around town to build food producers and so I was able to work with him throughout all of his New Orleans years. Chefs like Corbin are willing to give support to farmers markets in many ways and should be invited to assist whenever possible.
I think of him as a little brother while at the same time, as a teacher and leader in sustainable regional food production. This is a lovely film from the great Southern Foodways Alliance detailing his latest effort. Do take a road trip to Oxford and the Delta to see it for yourself anyway and make sure to stop and see Corbin in his alley. You’ll like him.

Oxford Canteen from Southern Foodways on Vimeo.

10 New Orleans chefs share their culinary hopes for the 2014 New Orleans restaurant scene

More ethnic, more niche and available in every neighborhood and supportive of farmers and producers:

10 New Orleans chefs share their culinary hopes for the 2014 New Orleans restaurant scene |

On Being a Boss: Kristen Essig Takes Over at Sainte Marie – Eater Interviews – Eater NOLA

Below, is a link to an interview with a New Orleans chef who has embedded local purchasing into the very DNA of her kitchen.

The day I met Kristen was the day (2002? 2003?) that she interviewed to be our Crescent City Farmers Market (CCFM) Tuesday/Thursday market manager. She came to the interview with a slate of ideas and opinions backed up with a vitality that could not be denied. We were surprised that someone with her fine dining experience (and obvious ambition) wanted to work for our little organization, but she explained that she wanted to know all facets of the food system.
During her tenure, she can be credited with building our Green Plate Special program, which allows restaurants to come for a full month of Tuesdays to sell plate lunches to the shoppers at the CCFM and, of course, allows those chefs to understand the farmers and fishers better and to have long stretches to watch market vending in person.

As a chef, she came with a “shoot from the hip” framework and never stopped running the entire time she worked with us. Like anyone who has worked on the line at top restaurants, she was intimidating to some but we knew that she always led with what was in the best interest of our farmers and fishers. Through her, we understood the psyche of the chef better and started to realize that we should get to know the sous chefs and line cooks that were more often at the market and were on their way to the top position. Many of those have now become leaders of their own restaurant (why, like our friend Kristen Essig!) and almost all have become fierce supporters of those markets.

“As a line cook, you develop a relationship with vendors as they come in the back door, but actually working with the vendors at the market was a totally different thing. You’re working, really, with 20 small businesses, and they’re all trying to make certain quotas, and they all have certain amounts of product that they have to move. You develop strong relationships with these people—you learn that they have bills to pay, whose kid needs braces, etc.”

On Being a Boss: Kristen Essig Takes Over at Sainte Marie – Eater Interviews – Eater NOLA.

Answer the poll and help Cooking Matters Colorado

The Kashi REAL Project™ is committed to helping solve the Real Food Deficit, and as a part of their ongoing efforts, have partnered with the non-profit Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters® Colorado. Cooking Matters Colorado is tackling the Real Food Deficit by equipping families with the tools to make healthy meals at home, practice responsible food shopping, shift budgeting behaviors, and teaching children and families healthy eating habits that last a lifetime. For every poll answer, $1 is donated to help Cooking Matters Colorado** expand their cooking skills courses to more families and help build stronger, healthier communities.

In your community, what is the biggest challenge to healthy eating? | The Kashi REAL Project |

Saxapahaw: Gatorade next to Kombucha

What a treat I had yesterday. Sarah of the Carrboro Farmers Market has been patiently squiring me around the area, meeting to meeting, meal to meal. Hopefully, all of you have made it to this area of North Carolina and had some of their amazing food, centered by the pork, chicken -well, all meat- that they love and know how to cook in so many interesting ways.
Yesterday, Sarah took me a few miles out of Carrboro to a little town called Saxapahaw (pronounced sax-paw the Carrboro native says) for lunch and for a quick meeting. That meeting easily became an afternoon, because of the fascinating Saxapahaw General Store.


Here is what their website says about their beginnings:

The Saxapahaw General Store as it now exists began in June 2008 when Jeff Barney, butcher and self-taught cook, and Cameron Ratliff, teacher and self-taught biscuit maker, worked with former owner Mac Jordan to begin a new life for the convenience store and gas station that had served the community for several years. They imagined a spot where a village could gather for refreshments, meals, and basic home provisions, run by folks whose varied backgrounds have each taught them they can influence their world by collaborating with their neighbors. They hoped to serve the residents of Saxapahaw with a range of products that could allow everyone to feel welcome. They decided to become stewards of local foods, good wine and beer, nutritious snacks, and eco-conscious dry goods.

What I saw was a business model that looked right. Once I met the dynamo farmer Suzanne, I became even more sure. Suzanne took us across the street to the pastures after our lunch
(the picture below shows what is available for lunch-all of the meat is local and much of the produce too)


The turkeys were the last of the year, with these destined for ground turkey in the next week or so.
Much of the poultry production is done herself alongside Saxapahaw neighbors and coworkers; the humane treatment of her animals at the end of their lives is so important to this farmer that she told us she would not use many of the processing plants available to her. And that if that was the only way that they could be processed that she wouldn’t raise animals for food.

She pointed out the ducks that they had only begun to raise for food and the vegetable garden, also beginning. At this point, the store is buying from the very talented growers that surround the area thanks to the Carrboro Farmers Market and its younger sister markets, but the emporia is going to grow some of its own produce across the street. The composting is carefully monitored before being shared with their animals, so as to not waste any of the precious produce.

The store is set up to roam and shop after one has put their order in at the counter. Coca-cola products are lined up near pure ginger root drinks, homemade baked goods and local preserves near the small candy area. Hunting gear and motor oil can also be picked up as well along with some biodiesel or gas for your truck.

The store is both a throwback and a nod to the future. Suzanne talked extensively about the ongoing need for more equipment as well as sharing individual stories of the staff and their talents. Throughout our time there, people of varying ages and backgrounds came and went, bought food, drink and dry goods.
As public health and regional planners look for store models that can offer dignity and inclusion to food producers as an encouragement to sell there (just as the farmers market world has done) this store should become a Mecca. Using around 1500 square feet to offer as many culturally appropriate items as possible (Suzanne dreams of the day she can put out her gizzards and turkey necks next to the stock already offered) and real food choices next to convenience items still necessary to the real world, the Saxapahaw General Store is a food organizer’s dream come true.




Vegan Soul Kitchen

Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American CuisineVegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine by Bryant Terry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really like this book. the author put some very nice healthy recipes and paired them with songs, art and history. The idea of approaching a meal as a way to create an entire mood is a great one for a cookbook. His activism is front and center- he has an impressive resume founding and supporting food activism projects.
A worthy book for an individual chef or for any food project that uses seasonal items to educate about healthy alternatives for preparing Southern/African-American cultural recipes. I use this cookbook as much as any in my kitchen.

View all my reviews

Ale to the Chief: White House Beer Recipe | The White House

Ale to the Chief: White House Beer Recipe | The White House.

Leah Chase: Paintings by Gustave Blache III @ NOMA | New Orleans Museum of Art

Leave it to my city to hold an exhibit of paintings of one of our favorite chefs and restauranteurs, Leah Chase. Dooky Chase Restaurant was the headquarters of the civil rights movement in the 1960s in New Orleans, and was one of the few places where black and white people sat together. Add to that the importance of the location (it anchors the 6th ward and Treme), the multi-generational kitchen (grandson has now joined Miss Leah in the kitchen), the long memory of our food culture held there (I once waited for Miss Leah to make me a 5 gallon bucket of proper sweet tea for an event at the farmers market which she did by getting on a ladder and taking the largest spoon I ever saw to stir it up), and her warmth with everyone she comes in contact with and you end up with the long list of reasons to thank Miss Leah and the rest of the Chase family for their devotion to New Orleans.

Leah Chase: Paintings by Gustave Blache III @ NOMA | New Orleans Museum of Art.


Also give a listen to Leah Chase, jazz singer- no, not the matriarch, but her daughter who is one of the premier jazz vocalists in the area.
Leah Chase jazz album