[StBernard] Food Stuff
westley at da-parish.com
Thu Jan 12 22:23:55 EST 2006
This is what I have on local food's from the Times-Picayune.
Slowly but surely, New Orleans favorites are returning to their rightful
places in stores, restaurants and pantries
Thursday, January 05, 2006
By Judy Walker
One or two restored refrigeration units at a time, the road to production of
favorite New Orleans foods is coming back.
But there are some notable exceptions.
First, the good news: Leidenheimer French bread is available for po-boys
once more. Zatarain's is up and running again on the West Bank, with Federal
Emergency Management Agency trailers for some employees. Chisesi hams made
it back in time for Christmas.
The bad news: Crystal hot sauce continues to be in very short supply, and
the company will not return to its World War II-era plant in New Orleans.
And there's some good news and bad news in one package: In late September
and October, shoppers were standing in store aisles and openly grieving for
Patton's hot sausage, but, Dorignac's Assistant Manager Ray Bordelon said,
"We finally started getting it back in again. . . . It's in limited supply."
And a lot of hot sausage is going out of town with displaced residents who
come in to work on their houses on the weekends, then take it "back to Texas
or wherever they're staying."
Bordelon said shoppers also are missing Italian bread from United Bakery,
Reising stuffing and Manuel's hot tamales, all of which were made in parts
of town that flooded badly after Katrina.
The lack of staff and the dearth of housing for workers continue to be
challenges for local food makers. However, many of these foods are made by
family businesses, so a core group of family members at each is toiling to
get things up and running.
Here's a survey of a few iconic local foods and the status of their
ITALIAN ICE CREAMS
The old-fashioned Angelo Brocato ice cream parlor on North Carrollton
Avenue, just renovated over the summer for a 100th birthday event, suffered
4 to 5 feet of flooding, Arthur Brocato said. But its fallen neon sign,
which once hung over Brocato's French Quarter location, is salvageable, and
the just-refurbished antique coffee machine was above the water line.
The company's manufacturing center for baked goods, ice creams and desserts,
behind the retail outlet, supplied thousands of Sicilian cookies and ices to
many local groceries.
"We're hoping in a few months we can get going, getting our production rooms
up first, then doing the retail store," Brocato said. Will there be Italian
ices by the time hot weather gets here again? "I sure hope so," he said.
"I'm hoping by March or April.
"It's been very encouraging because we're getting calls from all over the
country," Brocato added. "They all call and say we were wondering if you
were open, because they always had our fig cookies or sesame cookies for the
Kajun Kettle Foods makes soups, sauces, marinades, red beans and hundreds of
thousands of pounds of other "kettle foods" for local and national
But the company is best known for Crawfish Monica, the trademarked dish that
is a tradition at Jazzfest.
In the winds of Katrina, the firm's large center in Elmwood lost windows and
part of its roof, but was without power only five days.
Right after the storm and after receiving clearances from state and federal
health authorities, Kajun Kettle got back to its own business, but it also
set up an auxiliary kitchen and teamed with the national organization Chef
Relief to provide meals for police, members of the military and people at
shelters. With volunteer chefs from all over the country, Kajun Kettle
produced 60,000 meals a day, using ingredients donated by the truckful.
About 450,000 free meals were made at Kajun Kettle, said company president
As for Jazzfest 2006, "We are alive and well and we can't wait," said
executive vice president Monica Davidson, for whom the famous crawfish dish
The second-generation owner of Hubig's Pies, Drew Ramsey, said he expects to
send route men out on Monday with pies for the first time since Hurricane
Katrina damaged his Bywater factory.
On the Sunday before the storm made landfall, the company baked its usual
10,000 pies, because if the storm had missed the region, it would have
needed them for Monday delivery. After the storm, Ramsey and his pregnant
wife drove around handing out the pies to public safety workers and people
waiting for help, as the company did after Hurricanes Betsy and Camille.
"We took them to wherever anybody looked hungry, and I pulled up and handed
them out," said Ramsey, who is also a police officer. "When the water came
up, we drove around the sliver by the river."
Ramsey plans to auction off a specially made wooden case autographed by
local celebrities and filled with post-Katrina pies. A portion of the
proceeds will go to local hurricane recovery efforts. For more information
about the auction, see www.hubigs.com.
Reily Foods makes Luzianne tea and coffee, Blue Plate mayonnaise and CDM
coffee, among other products.
The company's plant on Chef Menteur Highway has reopened and is fully
operational, said George Murphy, vice president of marketing. The company
also has moved back into its headquarters on Magazine Street.
All its coffee lines have at least some representation on store shelves, he
said. By the end of the first quarter of 2006, all the different grinds and
package sizes should be in full distribution.
And if you wonder about restoration of the landmark neon Blue Plate sign on
Jefferson Davis Parkway, Murphy said it will be back, but getting products
onto grocery shelves is the company's first priority.
Patton's Hot Sausage, on Delery Street in the 9th Ward, was inundated after
Katrina, with floodwater rising above the rooftop. The company lost
everything in its office and all five delivery trucks, said office manager
Ann De Grado, whose parents and brother own the company founded by her
grandfather. All but two of their employees lost their homes.
However, Patton's has resumed production in rented space at Double D Meat in
Bogalusa. Family members and a couple of employees are again producing
5-pound buckets of hot beef links and 4-ounce hot beef patties. Double D is
selling Patton's sausage at 11518 Highway 21 South, and since Double D is
federally inspected, Patton's can now ship its products across state lines.
The big Fiesta Market chain in Texas and stores in Mississippi have sought
them out, due to demand by evacuees, and the company is trying to figure out
how to get the products to them, De Grado said.
"Right now we are working on getting some delivery trucks, and some of our
distributors in New Orleans who weren't badly hit are coming to Bogalusa and
picking up," De Grado said. "We are working on getting back into (the major
chain stores) we were in, in Louisiana. We are trying to contract with other
delivery people, but it's a slow process."
De Grado said the company is looking for a new permanent location, probably
in an industrial area, possibly in St. Tammany or Washington Parish. When
her grandfather founded the company on Delery Street, it was not a
residential area, but became one over the years. As a result, De Grado said,
it was "kind of hard on the residents having our trucks come by."
Products made by the fifth generation of operators of Vaucresson Sausage Co.
are sold in local supermarkets and at Jazzfest, where the company is
acknowledged as the vendor of longest standing. Its hot sausage, turkey
sausage and crawfish sausage po-boys are fest favorites.
Vance Vaucresson said his business on St. Bernard Avenue took in 6 to 7 feet
of water, ruining all his equipment. As of late December, he was still in
the wait-and-see mode.
Vaucresson evacuated to New Iberia with his family. Since his wife was
having an uneasy pregnancy, his first priority was making sure she was in a
comfortable environment, he said. This quest was hampered by Hurricane
Rita's impact on the region.
Their home in New Orleans got hit with 2 feet of water from Katrina. Since
it had suffered a fire a year ago, their belongings were stored in his
mother's house near the Lakefront, where they were destroyed. The
Vaucressons are now living, with his mom, in a big, new manufactured home in
The Vaucressons' daughter was born in mid-December, joining her 3-year-old
brother and giving her dad new incentive to plan a future in New Orleans, he
"After this, I can think about some investments, smaller equipment, but
right now I'm kind of deflated. I'm just going to wait. I can probably get
with somebody and make some product," Vaucresson said, but much depends on
securing Small Business Administration loans to build up capital and
"It's a tradition and something I would love to do," he said, "but this was
a major life-changing experience, and sometimes you have to get as much
information as possible before you decide."
In summer 2005, Mrs. Wheat's Foods, known for its Natchitoches meat pies,
bought and started renovating a new, much larger plant, because the
26-year-old family business long ago outgrew its 4,000-square-foot factory.
Both sites were in the 9th Ward. Both flooded after Katrina. At least one of
the company's 30-plus employees died in the storm, said Linda Wheat, vice
president in charge of product development and special projects.
The company makes its state food (one of a few designated as such by the
state Legislature) and sells the hand-held meat pies to local supermarkets,
casinos and cruise ships and at Jazzfest. Before the storm, it was producing
about 30,000 pies a week.
The company quickly found a temporary plant in Georgia, but the Wheats had
to travel there frequently to oversee the operation.
"In Georgia, they had never heard of Natchitoches meat pies, and now they
are crazy about them over there," Linda Wheat said. "We are going to expand
into new territory. It will be a hidden blessing when it's all done."
Right now, family members are cleaning out the new New Orleans plant and
starting its renovation with new freezers, which will house the products
made in Georgia until they can get the rest of the factory going by March,
Wheat said, "hopefully, with some of our old employees."
Wheat said their company was the only New Orleans one to participate in a
big convention of convenience-store operators originally scheduled for here
but moved to Las Vegas because of the hurricane. They received a lot of
local publicity and, she said, "huge amounts of business, international and
"We are real excited about the mid-term future," Wheat said. "The immediate
future is a struggle. We are trying to get the electricity turned on. Like
everybody. It's difficult. But it will happen soon."
I was wondering if you know if Cheung`s Gardens is planning to return to
St.Bernard,also do you know anything about Patton`s Hot Sausage, I cannot
find any anywhere. I thought Chesesi`s Ham had come back because a Winn
Dixie in Baton Rouge got it but only once. Any information would be much
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