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New Orleans Favorite Food Writer and Chef Celebrates 30 Years Writing Cooking Creole for the Times Picayune

Marcelle Bienvenu is from St. Martinville, Louisiana. It is considered the heart of the Cajun Country. It’s also the heart of Cajun Cooking, and the true heart of Cajun Cooking is Marcelle. For 30 years she written about Louisiana foodways and provided us with recipes steeped in the traditions of our ancestors while recognizing modern tastes and conveniences.

New Orleans Favorite Food Writer and Chef Celebrates 30 Years Writing Cooking Creole Column for the Times Picayune

Marcelle Bienvenu food writer for the Times Picayune in New Orleans here does  cooking demonstration in Covington.

Marcelle Bienvenu food writer for the Times Picayune in New Orleans for 30 years here does cooking demonstration in Covington.

My father’s family is from St. Martinville and when I was a kid we would go there often to see his mom (my grandmother) and visit with the rest of the family. I loved those times, because as far was we were concerned going to St. Martinville was a good vacation and it was one that was to us out in the country. Marcelle is a cousin of ours and in St. Martinville the Bienvenu name is as common as Smith.

I first heard about Marcelle when I was living out in Washington State and got the book Who’s Your Mama, Are You Catholic and Can You Make A Roux? Filled with great recipes and personal family stories it was a combination cookbook and memoir. What was neat for me was that she talked about cousins in her stories that Iactually knew.

She got the job writing for the TP after her restaurant closed in Lafayette because of the oil bust in 1984. Ella Brennan of the famous local restaurant family, you know, the one that runs Commander’s Palace among others, said that she should pitch the TP with the idea of becoming their food writer. She was hired immediately and moved to New Orleans.

In her article from the Times Picayune she states:

Allow me to reminisce. The Louisiana World Exposition was being held in New Orleans in 1984. I had young hair back then. Not a single gray strand could be found in my straight black tresses. I was living in St. Martinville in a small rental house near my parents and I so wanted to return to the Crescent City.

In a couple of weeks, I found an apartment on Coliseum Street and got a second job at what is now Riley Foods company on Magazine Street to supplement my income. My father was still alive and was excited that I was returning to the world of newspaper journalism. (My grandfather established the first weekly newspaper, the Weekly Messenger, now the Teche News, in St. Martinville in 1886. My father, then my brother, both served as editors.)

I’ve enjoyed reading her column over the years and sometimes try my hand at her recipes. Cajun and Creole food is rarely ever complicated and the flavors, well, people flock here from around the world to partake of our wonderful food.

So congrats to you, Marcelle, for providing us with your talent as a writer and cook, and sharing with us your stories and glimpses into your family. May you continue to be a popular fixture Thursday mornings for us New Orleanians who like to read your columns over a nice cup of coffee and chicory.

Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Food, New Orleans Life.

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