Louisiana Eats: Stories From The Back Of The House

Sep 15, 2017

Behind every great restaurant is a great chef. But that chef would be nothing without the scores of people in the front and the back of the house who turn a meal into a memorable experience. On this week's show, we get to know two unsung heroes of hospitality in New Orleans.

We begin with the remarkable story of Chef Serigne Mbaye, a 24-year-old Senior Line Cook at Commander's Palace. Though he was born in New York City, at the age of five, Serigne was sent to boarding school in Senegal where he endured almost ten years of abuse, starvation, and other harsh treatment. Upon returning to New York at 14, Serigne began high school unable to speak English, all while living on his own and supporting himself by working two jobs. He shares tales of his personal journey forged by hard work and a drive to understand his culinary roots.

Then, we meet two people instrumental to Serigne's arrival in New Orleans: Cliff Hall, co-owner of New Orleans Fish House, and Serigne's boss, Commander's Palace executive chef Tory McPhail. Cliff tells us about his chance conversation with Serigne in an African airport, and Tory takes us into the kitchen for a snapshot of how personal and professional attitudes on the job have impacted Serigne's success.

Finally, we get to know Sterling Constant, waiter at Antoine's Restaurant, on the heels of a major milestone. 2017 marks Sterling's 50th year in service at Antoine's, which makes him the restaurant's longest-serving employee. Over the years, Sterling has waited on the likes of Bob Hope, Jackie Gleason, and former governor Edwin Edwards. As he explains, if you happen to get him as your waiter today, you can expect the same great level of hospitality they received. Antoine's CEO Rick Blount joins the conversation as the two discuss Sterling's remarkable career.

For more of all things Louisiana Eats, be sure to visit us at PoppyTooker.com.