oral history

A postcard from Antoine's Restaurant, circa 1930.
Antoine's Restaurant / Boston Public Library/The Tichnor Brothers Collection

Rebranding a business is one of the most challenging things a company can do. Rick Blount understands very well: his family has owned Antoine’s Restaurant for five generations, which has left a legacy not only in the restaurant’s dining rooms, but in public opinion. 

Antoine's is famous for many things, including Oyster's Rockefeller, which was invented by Jules Alciatore. Blount told the story of its genesis to historian Mark Cave:

Angelo Brocato's neon sign on N. Carrollton Avenue has been a neighborhood fixture since the late 1970's.
b. rox / Infrogmation/Flickr

The next time you’re strolling the French Quarter, look for some ceramic tiling in front of 615 Ursuline Street. That tiling spells out ‘Angelo Brocato’, who New Orleanians know as the namesake of an old-world gelateria that used to be located there.

The business moved out of the neighborhood when it gentrified in the 70’s, but remains iconic to locals. So how’d it survive the transition? We turn to Arthur Brocato for that story and other family secrets. 

Oystermen at work on Lake Borgne in 1973.
John Messina / Environmental Protection Agency

Despite what your parents may have told you about eating oysters in the summer, it’s perfectly fine to do that. That’s from the lips of Alfred Sunseri, whose family has run the P&J Oyster Company since 1876. He knows a thing or two about the business and shares his family's triumphs and their frustrations in this interview with The Historic New Orleans Collection's oral historian, Mark Cave. 

John Menzser

The latest edition of NOLA Life Stories takes place at a department store in Gretna, 1937. This is a time when families lived above the store, when advertisements were delivered door to door, and babies got their first pair of shoes for free.

This was also a time of separate but equal, of back-of-the-bus politics. But not every nook and cranny of the city was gripped by segregation. As Sam and John Menszer remember, the customers at their family’s shop kept any racist attitudes– and their bags – at the door.  

Poppy Tooker and Leah Chase in the kitchen of Dooky Chase's Restaurant
Joe Shriner

What turns an ordinary woman into a legend? On this week's Louisiana Eats!, we attempt to answer that question by taking an in-depth look at four inspiring women who have conquered life's challenges and become legends in their own time.

Historic New Orleans City

It’s estimated that local non-profits have annual expenditures of over $550 million and must rely on government subsidies, fundraising campaigns and grant proposals to complete their missions. Philanthropic groups, like the Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation, develop their own mission statements to support those institutions and spend the year deciding where to allocate funds.

msppmoore

Prisons are built on the supposition that time, discipline and routine transform inmates into new people. Nelson Davis has lived with this idea since 1980, when he arrived at the Louisiana State Penitentiary to fulfill a life sentence.

Historic New Orleans Collection

If you kept tabs on local politics over the past several decades, then Jackie Clarkson’s name isn’t lost on you. This staunch Democrat represented many of the city’s downtown neighborhoods from Bywater and Treme to the French Quarter and Algiers, her childhood home.

But what influenced her to pursue a life in politics? Mark Cave found out when he interviewed Ms. Clarkson for this edition of NOLA Life Stories.

K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen staff photo, 1981.
Courtesy of Frank Brigtsen

Chef Paul Prudhomme changed the American food world forever with his creative, exuberant love for Creole and Cajun food. He was the first American chef to take the reins at Commander's Palace — where the world first had a taste of his culinary genius. He pioneered the now commonplace farm-to-table movement, as he championed Louisiana's farmers and fishermen. As Ella Brennan said, “He had magic in his hands.”

Joyce N. Boghosian / The White House

Leah Chase: say the name and New Orleanians know exactly who you’re talking about. She’s a great chef, a civil rights activist, and an avid art collector. And it’s not a stretch to say that – to some people – she’s the maternal figure of the city. On this edition of Nola Life Stories, Leah Chase, in her own words.  

This interview was conducted by Mark Cave for the Historic New Orleans Collection.

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