In 1990, when chef Susan Spicer opened Bayona in a 200-year-old Creole Cottage, no one knew if its culinary multiculturalism and avant-garde takes would last. Three decades, one James Beard Award, and thousands of veal sweetbreads orders later, the iconic New Orleans establishment remains one of the finest tables in town.
IF SOMEONE ever asks me what to order, I’ll always say sweetbreads. Just to test them.
CONFIDENCE is important.
WHEN I STARTED, I was five years older than half the cooks in my kitchen.
I DIDN’T grow up eating out. I didn’t have an old Cajun grandmother. My mom was from Copenhagen.
THE BEST CHEFS dig the work, the hard work.
I’M ONE OF seven kids and my dad was in the Navy.
A&G CAFETERIA. That was about it for eating out.
I REMEMBER MOM had this set of mahogany bowls. And in all the mahogany bowls she would put the condiments. Chopped eggs, scallions, peanuts, fried onions, chutney, all these different things you were supposed to put on top of your beef and curry.
I SHOWED a Culinary Institute brochure to my dad and he laughed. I was just aimless and looking for something.
I ALWAYS loved music – and musicians – but I had no talent.
TO GROW, to get better, you have to do what you don’t think you can’t do.
LIKE COMING back and putting on a comfortable pair of old shoes. The Big Easy, it feels good, comfortable.
WHEN I STARTED officially working for a chef, there was an epiphany. There was a moment.
I JUST SAID, “Finally, finally. This is satisfying everything.”
I HAVE THIS New Yorker cartoon on my door. It’s a woman chef standing at the table of a big-chested business man. “Oh, you’re the chef? Well, my compliments anyway.”
A FRENCH CHEF came in to Bayona and he was like, “Your cooking reminds me of my grandmother.” To me that was awesome.
AT THE END of the night, just give me my glass of wine.
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