Chef Susan Spicer

REAL LIFE, REAL FLAVOR

with Chef Susan Spicer

Chef and owner of two legendary New Orleans restaurants: Bayona, in the French Quarter, and Mondo, in Lakeview

Famous for: Susan is universally acknowledged as one of the most influential chef/owners in the country. She was also the prototype for character Janette Desautel on the HBO series, “Treme.”

Currently: Owner of award-winning Bayona in the French Quarter, and Mondo, a family restaurant in Lakeview, near her home.

Mentors: Worked with Chef Daniel Bonnot at the Louis XVI Restaurant in the French Quarter and with Chef Roland Durand at the Hotel Sofitel in Paris.

Accomplishments: After apprenticing in New Orleans and Paris, she operated two small bistros in the Crescent City. In 1990, she opened the award-winning Bayona in a beautiful 200-year-old cottage in the French Quarter. In 2000, with three partners, she opened the award-winning French bistro, Herbsaint, in the city’s Warehouse District. Though she sold her Herbsaint partnership to Donald Link in 2007, she can still be seen hanging out at the bar at Herbsaint from time to time.

Awards: “Countless. The big one: induction in The James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.”

Literary credentials: Crescent City Cooking: Unforgettable Recipes from Susan Spicer’s New Orleans was nominated for Best American Cookbook by the International Association of Culinary Professionals and voted Best New Cookbook by New Orleans Magazine.

Her secret to success: “My partner Regina and I are always on the premises. We’re very visible and make sure the customers know that the owners care.”

Is she anything like Janette Desautel?: “I’m happily married and not so salty.”

Inspiration: : "My travels around the world. My dad was a naval officer and we lived in Holland for three years. My mom is Danish, but grew up in South Africa. I loved her Indonesian bami goreng and Danish red cabbage."

Loves Louisiana Seafood because: “What we get from the Gulf is fresh and delicious, and we have a tremendous variety.”

Her first taste of Louisiana Seafood: : “Fried shrimp at the A&G Cafeteria. I spent the first few years in New Orleans on the naval station and my mom did most of the cooking. It wasn’t until quite a few years later that I discovered things like boiled crawfish and oysters.”

A recent taste of Louisiana: “Earlier today I bought an oyster po’boy, along with stuffed crabs and boiled crawfish, and I thought how lucky I was to live in a place where I could get all that and have a conversation with people from all walks of life. To me, po’boys aren’t sandwiches. They’re a way of life.”

Signature Louisiana Seafood dish: “At Bayona, the Oyster, Spinach and Italian Sausage Gratin. At Mondo, which serves 'flavors of the world with a New Orleans accent,’ Thai Shrimp and Pork Meatballs, or Prosciutto-Wrapped Tuna Muffaletta.”

Other passions: “Music. My husband and I like to get out to see alt-country or local bands now and then, when we can. And working. I like working with cooks and waiters—they are generally fun, interesting and creative people.”

Can’t live without: “Coffee granita in the morning and coffee ice cream at night.”

At home: “I have two teenage stepchildren including my vegetarian stepdaughter. I make lunch every day for my husband, Chip, who is a furniture maker—though he was in this business for 15 years. We also have a dog, three cats and three chickens.”

Favorite vegetable: “I love eggplant.”

Favorite spice: Coriander seed

Crab, Carrot, Caper and Lime Salad

Louisiana Crab, Carrot, Caper and Lime Salad

View this recipe

by Susan Spicer


Serves 8 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

  • Juice of 3 limes (approximately 2 oz.)
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon champagne or cider vinegar
  • 6–8 oz. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, hot sauce
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped basil
  • ½ bunch finely chopped scallions
  • 1 lb. jumbo lump Louisiana crabmeat, picked for shells
  • ½ cup finely dice carrots, blanched and shocked in ice water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped capers
  • Basil leaves
  • Sliced ripe avocado

Method:

Place lime juice, shallots and vinegar in a small bowl and whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce. In another bowl, mix basil, scallions, Louisiana crabmeat, carrots and capers, and then fold in the lime vinaigrette until ingredients are well coated and salad is tasty. Garnish with basil sprigs and avocado and serve.