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Mardi Gras Heritage: Black Women Chefs in the Gulf Coast

Mardi Gras Heritage: Black Women Chefs in the Gulf Coast

Taste and flavor are what make Mardi Gras cuisine such a memorable experience. From New Orleans, to Mobile, Alabama to Pensacola, Florida, Mardi Grad meals are a mainstay in many communities. Certain dishes are classic Creole and Cajun inspired dishes, while some chefs opt for more contemporary creations. However you enjoy Mardi Gras, food is always the one element that celebrates the spirit of the holiday. Mardi Gras staple foods are as old as Mardi Gras itself.

Check out how these chefs bring in Mardi Gras with their culinary creations throughout the Gulf Coast!

Chef Eryn Hartzog – New Orleans, Louisiana

When you’re a New Orleans native, you know that infusing the spirit of the French Quarter and its surrounding areas into your food is the best way to let the good times roll. Chef Eryn represents the Big Easy with her tasty New Orleanian dishes.

Mardi Gras is in Chef Eryn’s blood, literally. In fact, she describes her favorite Mardi Gras memory as the time the city showed support for her legendary family!

“My most memorable experience for Mardi Gras was riding in the Orpheus parade in honor of my grandfather, Fats Domino. That experience was unmatched. I felt like a true queen as we rode up St. Charles seeing all the beautiful people in my city laughing, drinking and cheering for my grandfather and family as we passed by,” she recalled.

Making the foods that Chef Eryn grew up on is definitely one way she stays connected to her New Orleanian roots. In fact, her favorite Mardi Gras meals to prepare are jambalaya, bbq chicken and the ever famous red beans and rice. 

“What makes Mardi Gras cuisine a memorable experience is the type of food we prepare here and how we prepare it. If you’re not from New Orleans, tasting Jambalaya, Gumbo, BBQ chicken and red beans will blow your mind with the burst of Cajun flavors put into each dish. It’s unmatched down south,” Chef Eryn exclaimed. 

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Check out Chef Eryn on Instagram to learn more about her business.

Chef Caress – Pensacola, Florida

Not only are Cajun and Creole meals a great aspect of Mardi Gras cooking, but so are the many sweets and baked goods that people consume during this festive celebration. Chef Caress is the owner of Henny Penny’s Patisserie in Pensacola, Florida and she knows exactly what can satisfy a sweet craving during the holiday. 

At Henny Penny’s they serve up a classic King Cake with a twist. King Cake is a Mardi Gras favorite, this cake is cinnamon flavored and topped with sugar or icing. It’s usually decorated with green, gold and purple sugar and has a plastic baby inside. The tradition is that whoever gets the piece of King Cake with a baby inside has to buy the next King Cake.

“We prepare Mardi Gras King Kake Bars. The King Kake Bars are a unique twist on the classic King Kake Bars. We offer these bars in our shop and always sell out,” said Chef Caress.

Running her booming bakery in Pensacola, Chef Caress knows all about how this Southern holiday affects those on the Gulf Coast. 

“Mardi Gras is exceedingly special in Pensacola. Pensacola, Florida is a beachy, southern town that loves to celebrate with multiple parades and a large host of Krewes. Pensacola neighbors Mobile, Alabama which is the home of Mardi Gras and two hours from New Orleans. Mardi Gras culture is all around us! Pensacola takes the influence around the holiday and the city makes Mardi Gras its own.”

You can visit Henny Penny’s at 4412 West Jackson Street in Pensacola. 

Chef Erica Barrett – Mobile, Alabama

When Oprah mentions you in her magazine, that really means something! This O magazine featured chef is making Mardi Gras memories of her own in Mobile, Alabama.

Founder of Southern Culture, or SoCu, Chef Erica is doing amazing things in the Gulf Coast. With an obsession for comfort food, but a disdain for spending too much money on food, Chef Erica turned her hobby and frustration into a culinary empire! 

Chef Erica has a business finance degree from Clark Atlanta University and always used cooking as a side gig to make extra money. After winning money in a food contest for Food Network, she turned her side gig into her passion. Chef Erica is also a Shark Tank alumna.

Although being a boss comes with a “cost,” according to an interview Barrett did with Cuisine Noir, that hasn’t stopped her from opening her own restaurant in her hometown of Mobile.

Some innovative and fun recipes Barrett serves up are the Fried Green Tomato Po Boy, which is featured in her cookbook. This po boy is an interesting spin on the Gulf Coast favorite, a deep fried sandwich usually served on French bread with tangy New Orleans remoulade sauce. She also serves a Double Cut Pork Chop with Crawfish gravy at her restaurant and Creole red snapper. Crawfish are also a Gulf Coast favorite and a Mardi Gras staple.  

Visit SoCu at 455 Dauphin Street in+ Mobile, Alabama.


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