Anthony Bourdain came to New Orleans in 2009 for one of his No Reservations episodes. Bourdain likes New Orleans and has often extolled the virtues of our unique cuisine.
In this video his sidekick is local food critic and writer Tom Fitzmorris who guides him through what’s happened to the New Orleans food culture a few years after Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding caused by the federal levee system failures.
Anthony Bourdain Explores the Essence of New Orleans after Katrina Through Antoine’s Restaurant
In a sense Antoine’s is a microcosm of what our cuisine means to the Crescent City. Here he encounters waiters who’ve been working at the restaurant most of their lives. Why? Because that is what they were called to do, just like the cooks in the kitchen and the rest of the wait staff.
Where in most places people work at a restaurant as a stopping off point to their “real” jobs, in New Orleans it is not unusual to find waiters and kitchen staff who’ve been working in one restaurant thirty or forty years.
This clip, filmed in 2009, ends on a down note because we see Antoine’s, as many restaurants in the city at that time were, suffering from lack of clientele. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. New Orleans spiritually, culturally and business-wise has sprung back to life bigger and better than ever before. Many more restaurants have opened here than there were before the hurricane.
But if you want to understand the deep cultural essence of this city and why it is so unique, this clip is a great introduction and explains things in a way that otherwise is very difficult for most locals to explain. It’s that intangible je ne sais quoi that makes New Orleans so irresistible.