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Some tasty advice with Chef Sue Zemanick from Gautreau’s

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After a lovely meal at the cozy candle-lit restaurant, Gautreau’s in New Orleans, I had the pleasure of speaking with head chef and James Beard Award winner, Chef Sue Zemanick, about great food, passion, and the importance of perseverance. 

Even from a young age, food was a huge part of Chef Sue’s life. “I started cooking when I was very young because my mother was a horrible cook. My dad wanted a good meal on the table so I sort of took over for her”, she admitted lovingly. She graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, and later Sue moved to New Orleans to work as the sous chef at acclaimed restaurant, Commander’s Palace. From there, she went on to become head chef at two restaurant’s of her own, Ivy and Gautreau’s. 

As we talked, she explained the importance of keeping food wholesome and respecting the ingredients.

We make sure our vegetables are properly seasoned. Not overcooked not undercooked, you should be able to eat every component of your food with chopsticks and then, when you put it together, that’s magic.” 

Both in and outside of the restaurant, Chef Sue holds true to her simple style of cooking. When I asked her what her favorite food was she replied without hesitation, “A roast chicken with vegetables. I think a really basic dish like that shows if a chef is really good, and I think it’s really comforting and delicious, plus it’s good for you.”

However, honest cooking doesn’t mean uninventive or unexciting. In fact, the menu at Gautreau’s couldn’t be more unique and delicious. Sue shared,

One of the dishes that we’re known for is our Duck Confit and one of our tricks that other restaurants don’t do is that we crisp up the skin in duck fat before we send it out to the costumer; so that’s a little twist on the traditional Duck Confit.”

The innovative chef is an incredibly hard worker, who is always striving to be the best she can and do the best work in her field.

I think the best piece of advice I could give a young person would be to persevere and to always follow your dreams and to never give up. In the beginning when I started cooking, my parents didn’t think it was the best career but I just decided to keep going and prove them wrong.”

Chef Sue has certainly proved herself in the kitchen, but this does not mean she is taking it easy. As we concluded the interview, she let slip that after finishing cooking at Gautreau’s that night, she was headed to her other restaurant to wash dishes since the main dish washer hadn’t shown up.

That is what hard work and passion is all about; even once you have achieved your goal you continue to work your hardest, unafraid to get your hands dirty…. or in this case soapy.

 

 

Emerson Tenney

Emerson Tenney

Emerson is a junior in high school. She loves literature and is passionate about writing, poetry in particular. When she is not playing the drums, participating in school musical theater, or training for marathons, you can find her with her friends checking out vintage records and used book stores in Hollywood.

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