An inside look at John Besh in the kitchen as he prepares the evening's menu and shares stories from his inspirational home, New Orleans.
I've often considered dishes like jambalaya and like the gumbo to be Jesse trees of New Orleans cooking. Trust is so important. And they have to trust my tradition and trust your tradition. [MUSIC] The new [UNKNOWN] they all came together, they came from all over from different worlds, everyone came together and played music together. [MUSIC] My purserfe is really, really simple. Simple. It's all about finding the best ingredients that are harvested responsibly, that are managed responsibly, whatever, what have you. And manipulating them as little as possible so that the food really speaks and purity to food is something that I'm very adamant about. [MUSIC] We got six restaurants. All of them in New Orleans, and each restaurant really represents a different genre that I'm attached to and that I have fun with. Obviously, Katrina awoke Certain something in me that said hey if we're not careful, we won't sustain this culture much longer. And so we need to get out there and do what we can to pay homage to that tradition. To pay homage to the culture of New Orleans and express it through my food is really important. When I was a child, my favorite meal Was, my grandmother would make cornbread and she would add pork cracklings to it, and I would take the black-eyed peas in the pie, and scoop it and pour it right over the cornbread. Now also, when you do this in South Louisiana, that's what we call Cush-Cush, which is a take off of couscous. [LAUGH] The school of thought has always been Let's doctor food up as much as possible. Now what I try to do is strip away layers of that. And really get to the essence of it. And get to the essence of the soul of the food. I think the story behind the food's really important. I think Understanding where the food comes from. In particular, where I'm from, New Orleans, this history and stories behind them are very relevant and so I like to bow to that, and understand that, so that I can cook with much more authenticity. [CROSSTALK] He's not in here No. I'm gonna get that guy. This menu's gonna be cool. I'm excited. And there's some pie isn't there? I heard there's a pie. There's a song Alligator pie that kind of changed me. [MUSIC] Listening to the song, I see people on rooftops, I see the flood of New Orleans again. I think back to the very first person that I served right after the storm. We came back in boats. Feeding people red beans and rice, and this first cat that I fed a bowl of red beans and rice to looks at me and he looks at the red beans. He's, dude, my mamma, she does it this way. She uses pickle meat. She's got this and got, [LAUGH] Oh, right. And he's not just lecturing me, he's really socking it to me, saying your red beans suck. And I'm arguing with him, I'm like, Can you believe this? Here we are, surrounded by this chaos, and we're arguing about food and the way that our mamas would make red beans. I had that same flashback when you came on to the stage, singing Alligator Pie at the Greek [UNKNOWN]. What this menu has gotta be reworked, has gotta be re-thought. It can't be a cerebral thing. It's gotta come from the soul, gotta come from the gut. And the way that I'm inspired by maybe alligator pie may be different than what he intended. I think that's the beauty of having a collaboration, and that's where I get to interject some of myself, because this is my perception of it. Next course, love letters. Love letters are just [INAUDIBLE] Small parcels, or small ravioli. Wait wait what's that recipe again? Yea exactly, if you're not sure more cumin. [LAUGH] [MUSIC] instead of just like transporting my food, I want to do a [INAUDIBLE] Were caught here, that were harvested here, were forged for here. And obviously it's going to work great with the wines from here, because I think we both believe in the sense of place and the sense of. Yeah, right. Responsible cultivation and management of the land. [MUSIC]