Interview with Rising Star Nominee Sue Zemanick
April 26, 2011
Though she's already packed her knives and left the latest season of Top Chef Masters, we think Sue Zemanick of Gautreau's is doing just fine. After all, the New Orleans star has nabbed a nomination for our Rising Star Chef of the Year Award three years in a row. Read on to discover what she told us about her favorite eats in the Crescent City and more. JBF: Gautreau's is the second restaurant you’ve worked at in New Orleans. What is it about working in that city that appeals to you? SZ: I love the people and culture. Everyone in NOLA loves great food, music, and cocktails, and that’s basically all that we do—eat amazing food, listen to live music, and enjoy delicious drinks. JBF: Have you felt any impact from the oil spill at your restaurant? SZ: Yes. People were afraid to come to New Orleans after the spill, while the ones who did come were afraid to eat the seafood. Our fisherman and shrimpers could no longer get any seafood from the Gulf so we had to get it from other sources. I also had to change our menu to reflect that shortage, which meant putting more protein on the menu than usual. It was a very traumatic, emotional, and depressing time. While seafood became more readily available last fall, we have only started to see a return to normal business at the restaurant over the course of the last two months. JBF: What’s your favorite dish on the Gautreau’s menu right now and why? SZ: We have a roasted veal chop with Tuscan bread pudding, Lacinato kale, and veal reduction. The bread pudding is cheesy, rich, and delicious, and kale is my favorite vegetable. JBF: Where do you eat when you’re not at work? SZ: I really enjoy the vast array of Vietnamese restaurants in the NOLA area. My favorites are Tan Dinh and Pho Tau Bay. JBF: Are there any specialties of New Orleans cuisine that you particularly enjoy? SZ: Any kind of boiled seafood! I love boiled crabs, crayfish, and shrimp. JBF: What’s your favorite cookbook and why? SZ: David Chang's Momofuku. I love the way he thinks about food and flavor combinations. JBF: What’s your earliest food memory? SZ: Eating my grandmothers lemon pie. I loved it so much I would lick the plate clean!