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WWL>Topics>>10-28-13 3:10pm Angela: with Chef John Besh

10-28-13 3:10pm Angela: with Chef John Besh

Oct 28, 2013|

Angela talks with Chef John Besh about his life and career.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

And I appreciate -- staying with this such a wonderful man we have this next hour. In a world of wonderful chefs John bash is a superstar. He's won every award there is from the James Beard -- up -- the southeast. To the silver spoon award all for good reason. He's good no he's great. That alone would make him a superstar. What what -- him beyond a great shift. Is that he's a multi dimensional man. Husband father of four sons of former marine who fought in desert storm and author TV star. And now the super businessman. Who is built an empire. How did he do this this kid from Slidell. -- that he says hard work -- good people around him. But it's more than that and that's what we're going to discover. In our one on one with John Nash it's real heavy here holy smokes have never been so nervous. Nervous. Let me tell you I just mentioned to him but I am hooked on the government channels on Saturday -- always watching the government channel. And there you are. Being introduced. And whoever introduce she said. John bench you have 1000 employees. I scream out loud in my kitchen equipment you have 1000 employing. Not directly but it through our connections with the museum in -- contract with errors. We have about that man says about an unbelievable. That restaurant August was your original. And now you really do have an empire it's been a blessing and it's in -- a collection of states may be not an empire. It's a little republic maybe but I. You know. Is it wasn't designed to being I didn't I didn't. I just wanted to be a chef at New Orleans I would have been happy you know just being one of celebrants -- And yet met Paul predominately young impressionable age and wanted to be just like him. And coming up and having great mentors and fabulous people around me allow -- to really. And I don't think the dream has finished but now it's it's allowed me to to do would I do I get the credit report but there's a lot of better people behind the scenes. Well you're going to talk about truly magnificent book that I have in my hands. That is all about being a chef but being mentors. And I think that that is an element in life regardless of what you do. You're locking in nothing in life to have somebody that will guide you and show you the way and correct your mistakes and inspire you. And this is a book about that as well as fabulous recipes. But before we talk about that. The last time I interviewed you was right after Katrina. And like oh yes and we were doing a little. And -- what we regulation could never had Scotch before Katrina. Flooded creek and got that. But it really and I look back on now and you I remember you walked to channel four. And then you walked back you pretty much had restaurant August then but it was you were feeding all the law enforcement people you Rafik. And now I read this was sort of a turning point for -- I didn't realize that and I should have how stupid. That you were fearful is our population going to come back am -- going to have a restaurant. And then you were able to keep everything going on feeding the troops. Weis certainly and I certainly thought that. I would be out of business than I used to. Our Russian August is such a beautiful it's a grand -- it. It's such an expensive restaurant to grind you know so many servers in the silver in the crystal and so on and so forth not to mention. The ingredients that we have to bring in and I thought well it would be hard to imagine. You'd see in the New Orleans that we sol just days after Katrina. That we can ever that we would ever resurrect at this point. In I'm truly I am I stand in all today just -- team. When unfolds in the city and now we now have a population that's like civic cleaning gauged the very end and really aware. Of how important every uses the worst on the corner is too. You you can tell how important saints -- having great franchise in the city how to end the young had planned. In. -- we have this progressive lot of people that come into New Orleans to make it while in their own people that weren't from here. For the express purpose of making a difference and person's life. And -- -- resurrecting a great American city. I was just I'm thrilled to have two bit to appeal would be a part of that you back in his early days after Katrina toppled. Gonna go out of business. But before I do that we're gonna do something good god put me on the serve to make a difference in somebody's life. And used my talents. To make the world a better place. What better way of doing this than feeding people who are hungry so we started on flat boots and -- in and around the city and -- igloo ice chest full of red beans and rice and lot of folks out there probably saw us and -- probably in the neighborhood near you doing that and I can laugh about it now that the first bill that we. He's standing in waist deep water and he's. He looks maverick means there naturally -- we were out of power just like everybody else we just kind of marshaling whatever resources we had. To cook beans and rice and figured you know they were good for people offered centuries and you know we they can sustain this now. Well he looks adamant he says where's the tickle -- that's that we'll also have pickle says where's sausage. I don't have sausage he says the other cold beer and that's that data and a one of those either you're just out of luck because you -- you know these are. Vegetarian red beans if you're hungry you're gonna like any case in the they're pretty good that is gives my mama's. And I felt like his argument believe on the merits of my beams. And I'm thinking and do you know who I am. And finally hit me that yeah we're gonna be okay because we're such a resilient lot where people that understood that that. We value people. In. From that moment on I knew I just -- we were doing the right thing feeding people once or -- -- we had. Went everybody at laughed he then had all these. Workers coming in to do these big oil turnaround right down. In Saint Bernard pierce especially so. We were feeding. Refugees and -- evacuees for free. But we were happy to charge the oil companies right. That the feed their workers and so we did that so we need a little business out of that. And I had to deal with all of our employees that whoever came act no matter how long it took. Try to come back and peak and come back -- painful for all the time list only as the first -- the the first core group of people came back. Really they formed our little inner circle now Todd -- -- that runs. August. He was the first one back -- Shia and never -- he was he and I lived in my broken down plane river together. In. All these great people -- formed the core of our. Of our company then are now my partners and in the restaurants now. You went from. Did you have the Harris John -- -- -- I did have repaired he had also taken has John Nash steak house. And then after the storm open looks so we have about a 120 employees. For the storm after the storm opened up open -- on saint Charles avenue. That it had another company had been there they left. And then once downtown began three popular a EE had a need for another rusher -- week so we opened up Lincoln then. Dominica. Later down at the Roosevelt when the where the Fairmont -- -- kind of left the void of restaurants in that area so we moved into the Roosevelt and we have -- are. And Dominica. And so as New Orleans continued to grow back out towards the superdome we've opened these other places in born in the last one. And of course our good friend Chris here Giorgio clients. He. I've bought them from Chris when he was on his debt that is what my mentors that are written about the spike. And it is. His you know I just didn't wanna see the rushing a lot of business. And that was his wish to make sure that all the employees would be taking care and I promised them everything. Now take care that he didn't want to die until he news that the restaurant would be taken care of and obviously that was the last thing in his life that he had a and so we we. Agreed on a prize then we took care everybody mr. Joyce is still there you know riding their -- heart mixing drinks. It in the right place but we're talking with John session again from serving red beans and rice to a man standing in. Five feet of her to an empire today stay with this I'm Angela on WW well. Well he grew up in Slidell. He started cooking. And we are saying that to happen. It but it were proud of each is fairly insular right down the road from where it started and get very well that is as it should be we're talking John dash a great great -- Also an author who has written three books the latest of which I've got right here and I I'm gonna just keep saying it. It's just a wonderful book to read not just to look at that read. And it's cooking from the heart my favorite lessons learned along the way because what John is really talking about are the people who made a difference in his career and life. And one of them now is the great German you gotta take -- -- -- newlywed. Your wonderful wife says sure I'll give up everything -- -- Germantown. He SATA hard -- to talk in the -- gal. Leaving her -- and leaving all just graduates. Just graduated. Oil law school. The date -- sworn in by. Into the state bar. Next day were we fly out and replied in Germany. At the time I was making six dollars an hour mr. she was scratch -- -- wondering what in the world and I got myself into. But we. Through all these various connections you know I I couldn't go in -- when these partnerships where. You didn't get paid I was already married and I dirty you know I'd had some responsibilities. And so I couldn't get a work visa for France like it worked there for free but it could get pay. And I couldn't get one I had a job that -- edges in London. For another fancy restaurant London. Couldn't get paid but I can get my work papers spurt and for Germany seven. Of friends of -- I knew of this beautiful to star Michelin resort hi in the mountains of the black force on the right on the border France Switzerland and Germany in the little village of pilgrims to tell. And makeshift there was call -- as -- Kooks and -- of was. That first mentor and there's just truly -- the first shift that I had that -- kind and gentle man and it really took his time teaching. If he was a great teacher and you know I came up at a time where food and cooking. Great food was all about. I mean as many ingredients of the -- as possible and and you have to fly things in from around the world and he taught me the food uses -- simple -- which you have your backyard. And in in that plane of the season he would talk about he really created this culture in this mines that are philosophy around to that. Eat what's local and I've never heard this before this was crazy because you didn't get to a fancy cooking school and all of this to. You make red beans and rice regard regarding that. And so I thought they needed to go out and learn and see the world and come back with great ideas and apply them in what I came back way it was really. Opened my eyes that the core relation between the food. In that culture of that area. In what I grew up with the whole time in each step along the way each mentor whether it was in Germany -- -- problems. Taught -- just that of -- how beautiful. -- would know how important our culture is here and so every time I've left New Orleans that was always pull back to it. In through food I learned all these great lessons and so. I grew up hunting and fishing with my dad with my grandfather and -- emblem with cookie. From that that stem because you could take the dark from the from the march. Bring it home in week eight dogs there speckled Trout and mama turned it into it Troutman care and if we have Altman's she would -- -- Trout comedy and just that simple when. Food was very clear it was one swing meaner running her flying and now it's on our table and so but I also took that for granted in from. Carly is -- I learned to to elevate everything in to really honor all all the different foods and so the first chapters all about. Lessons of the high Ankara upon means who then I'm in the black forest and -- hunting with my ship one day and I'm just walking along with them and he and we he harvested -- any treats it with so much respect in the moon bring it back. He's using each and every part of the animal in this also. In plain that this idea of honoring and respecting all these different who's become a crossing using them. Using each and every part and so that's why doesn't T. Crime around but doesn't -- to a prayer. At issue -- that yes he shoots that's -- and I I didn't wanna go I didn't know if we can talk about this on the radio or not but done. He issues that the year and he he then walks of students quietly says a prayer. Take safe for brain and you never -- brainchild the Sri in inserts it into the mouth of the animal. And an item of course very curious as to why he's in this NC will. Is very important remember this news in the feed the soul of the animal does that was. The animal will have an evergreen in in an eternity. And always will have a meal. In just but it just that symbolic step -- I'm hearing instead of immediately posing with the animal and have some grotesque picture of like holding in the butler's. That's -- As if he dominated no he honored it. And was very careful about. Removing news. All these parts and pieces that quite frankly would ordinarily dispute thrown away discarded here. And that mean me being -- he brought this liver Bakken. The liver was so important to him that he would happen if this levered he would cook it for his friends that he now and just the him taking these lectures steps. Made me realize that he would that the true love and respect he had for food in what you have them love and respect for the food and it's really difficult. Two. To cook it with with with your heart to coat from the art and she respected first. Well we're gonna continue this conversation and there's a wonderful story you wanna stay tuned for about a lesson learned. About lettuce. But first let's join chain arrows in the news for him. John bash great chef and a great author and he's written a new book his third called cooking from the heart my favorite lessons learned along the way. And it's terrific for many reasons but it tells great stories about those who have mentored him. And he was talking before the break about this wonderful man in Germany who. Took you under his wing but there is a great story and I remember thinking. As I read it how humble you must've felt because it it's the story of we'd we'd like dressing on our salads. That's right you know which is growing up you know well. Red blooded American alike. Like a little dressing on myself every now -- -- -- every every good restaurant. Every ration of -- Decent pressure is going to have at least one or two meals during the day. For all the employees in these -- called family meals here that is typically called Pamela Miller -- -- -- so at that time -- clock rations all around the world. Would get together and this is your time to sit down and and eat a meal together while our. In in Germany I was working the salad station got to appreciate the time in the Caspian to make a sound thing in these beautiful little leaves of of mosh. I think otherwise known as felt slot German owner. Sometimes called slams lettuce here in America. And I had these beautiful little leaves and I so look this is Germany we've got this great mustard I have this incredible. Honey. And so one and I just make a little honey mustard dressing you know toss the salad everybody's feel like it. And it was sweet a little bit spicy I was thrilled to -- well. All of sudden all the employees are eaten and where we're thinking fine in the big ships toward the end storms into the employee dining room and says. What have you done to my beautiful letters and just publicity fit about now. You can't takes a -- if you if you covered up with all these -- with would mask it with all these flavors. And that was another big lesson and talk a lot about my blunders because I think there are a lot of my blunders. Over the years in the kitchens I've learned and I think yes it is it's important for me to admit that one. Until wanted to just show the humanity of cooking -- gonna make some states it's not the end of the world and that's that is -- you get let me tell you. There was another great when your head about the the potatoes. Going and find potatoes -- -- of first assigned to work the potato station and in this. In one of these find this is really a French restaurant. In -- have a station called Huntsman TA and its traditionally one of them are first stations that you enter year that are responsible for all the pluses and starches for that matter and -- And as well as vegetables. And so if it has potato or vegetable on any plate you're responsible for placement you know cooking it in place and on the plate. Well on each dish figures out to be guest. One this particular day I have this huge list of all these different -- who recipes that I have to create. And in order to be ready for a dinner service that night and so I just thought well. I'm an American I can do a lot yet these Germans take their time their appealing quantitative climate. And then they'll make it dish in the appeal another pertain in the in the making this I think want to spew all these potatoes. And put him in a bucket filled bucket with ice water and then he has so that they don't oxidized and turned round. It's a -- -- spectators in the not just me on my different dishes with them and to the shift comes differences he you dummy don't you realize that. You're losing the starch in your losing the flavor we need the flavor in the starts and for points I never thought of potato having flavor. There's just always there we have to do is we added flavor to it we've tried them -- right to oust him and stop it. Never thought of a potato flavor and it hit me. In that just like you know the leaf of lettuce and the -- took me out to the gardens and -- the slowness. This -- this means maybe just a little bit of massive may be just attach a one that oil. In that not Venus is really gonna bring out the great flavor that exists in the -- naturally I'm thinking. Wow for me this is huge because. But this one -- and I learned respect and I thought about flavor and and textures and all these different things. In ways that I never once gone and so what I would it end up doing is really teaching mean these fundamentals. That allow me later to -- in other experiences to go on and build on his style cooking food that was less manipulated. -- -- in really cooking food that was. Simple. Bull but elegant do that simplicity. On that beautiful though we'll take another break we'll be right back we're gonna continue our talk with John bash right after -- I'm Angela under the WL. How wonderful to look at your life and acknowledge the people that have helped you. And that's what John bash has done in his latest book latest cookbook is talk about the people who influenced really his success today. Chris juror I can never said I think affairs George yeah Gary Giorgio was such a character such a wonderful big hearted man. And you bought -- onto him but he talked to white. Chris really taught me to love and respect our -- He was passionately in love with each person walked into Israel. Chris -- Giorgio for those of you who don't always he would just -- barrel chested. Strong as an it's little province -- man with the French name. Born. -- pour in the port town of ports on the week. Just outside of -- today. Chris embodied. That cultured India is assistant added to his war. In he managed to do whatever he had to do to make his way here jump ship with. Alfredo -- afraid of the sorrow yes and they were Booth he was a baker and afraid it was a Shia. Who later opened up -- Riviera and you battery. And -- they basically jump ship together in need -- is there room. And you -- in the great kitchens of the quarter Chris saved up enough money bought a place on the -- storm moved out. To run this small -- basically. It been like a little roadside motel on highway. And highway ninety error when ninety rather in -- He turns listen to this method became -- opera months remember as a kid. Going to line up bonds was you know this was a real treat. Very symmetric ghetto to a nice restaurant especially the French restaurant that we get there. As a kid and you know I just wanted to hear the Frenchman. You know you can barely make him out yelling at her -- in the kitchen nobody knew exactly. But it was always a mystique of the little Frenchman you -- just in he had. Wind is the wind is still there we can look into the kitchen that you just see his little white oak -- at the -- hat so you'd see it. It's around and you knew Chris was there -- the -- the -- was going to be that deals. So when he really. I came back. Jennifer and I moved back zone she started practicing law. And I started working for Crist the Crist decided that I still didn't island and that. He won immediately I knew textbook and I came back from Germany working and -- fancy -- that is impeccably trained. But I didn't have the sensibilities of that province now French grandmother that he won. In so for years he would send me back to work for friends it is in problems. Where we would spend. Few months out of the summer and since Jennifer and I would pack up and we we ago. Live cook eat everything province now and come back truth be told -- -- it was weird because of them that summer months of slow months here in -- He probably just one enemy off of the Opel models. But he would sit there and -- in meet me at times and we we'd cook together with certain people he wanted me to learn. From the supports and understands what real believe aces went real -- apostle in all these great dishes that -- such part of his lexicon. It later became part of my line and kind of the foundation of all the -- All things friend actually came from press. And I am now passes on thousands of -- here and while ones that work their way through our kitchens and its interest in it even now today you know their route. Opening there Richardson in making an impact. Did it begin for you as a little boy as a little boy. When I was nine years old my father was hit by drunk driver while he was bicycling paralyzed for life. At that moment. When he would contact the route his convalescence. That. You when rehabilitation hospital to the next learning how to open live with. With as -- PG. I would defeat him in it Borden is none of it was I'm sure but I would freedom. And might be shrimp creole just he's really simple recipes that mom and kind of you know mama teach merit watch mommy. I'd meet anything that I can put into an omelet that sets with omelets. So I'd create omelets for. In at that point it's either food mean I'm happy in food -- happiness. In that always brought me back to a place where. -- dance I felt like hall to do this because. I am called to make people happy -- in at that point dance all that was called to -- that I had the propensity to maybe you know. Pursued this as a career he introduced me to Paul Prudhomme and I'll lose 1011. Eight at when Paul came out with his first cookbook the Louisiana kitchen. And here I am this little kid meaning is the big guy big in the -- in a guy who was offices such as in Paul was such a gentleman to me. In now you know the years later point genius who teaches that we carry on the Ngo. For channel twelve. Which is really on really real it's line and so surreal is it a little circles. And so it's now you know in this we're talking about mentor ship really talked about people giving of themselves to each other and could be through food. It can be other lessons it. On none of us self made it and we all need each other. Stay with this John bench continues right after this. How lucky are we to get John -- the studio for a whole hour and so appreciative. Not that he isn't written three books has seven restaurants is raising four sons but he also is now -- and has to show on WY yes. But now is telling me he has another challenge spike TV about helping these other restaurants turn around and that's called. Hungry investors sip while we film will start filming in the springs and we've just gotten past the pilot stage and all that patent. Which is that the truth is is that I love. -- Mike Stanley table that we film at the house we filmed 26 episodes at a time and it's just the way we cook and he. Had our moments out -- in Al their own by you liberty and film right there which is so convenient we're acting to work Jesus walked downstairs there isn't that -- -- But with force on Steve just sometimes make cheeseburgers. Yeah we went into it looking good cheeseburger. But actually the boys may -- cheeseburgers. That's a -- on the next generation continued success to you wanna tell everybody don't forget. Tonight at 69 at born restaurant. You can get this beautiful book thank you John -- very very much thank you so much for having me appreciate it and now let's go to chain erosion newsroom.

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