New Orleans’ “restaurant renaissance,” chef humanitarians, and the New Southern food movement

Coverage celebrating the “restaurant renaissance” in New Orleans post-Katrina as reported by Munchies/VICE, The Times-Picayune and The New York Times.

Click here to read the final accepted version of my latest publication in the journal Food, Culture & Society. It is available online now and will be out in print April of 2022.

Abstract: In this paper, we situate New Orleans’ post-Katrina “restaurant renaissance” within a context of historical and contemporary racial and gender inequities. This context provides a space for critical consideration of the celebratory narratives popularly attached to the city’s most prominent chefs and their roles in “rebuilding” New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Our critique focuses on the practice of chef “celanthropy” (celebrity philanthropy) and the contradictions often underlying that practice. While we situate this critique in New Orleans, our analysis is more broadly applicable to what Lily Kelting has described as the “New Southern Food Movement.” This movement relies on contradictory tropes of pastoral utopian pasts and harmonious multicultural futures that elide white male hegemony within the food industry, and southern food’s grounding in colonialism and enslavement.

Over the course of my PhD research I discovered the many joys of co-authoring journal articles. While there are challenges, I truly find that the scale tips strongly to the positive side. This collaboration with Catarina Passidomo, Southern Foodways Alliance Associate Professor of Southern Studies and Anthropology at the University of Mississippi, stemmed from co-presenting together at the American Association of Geographers annual conference. I met Catarina while she was conducting her own PhD field research in New Orleans in the early 2010s, and I’ve loved keeping up with her research and amazing work with the Southern Foodways Alliance ever since.

New Orleans foodscapes and beyond: American Association of Geographers annual meeting

This year, the massive annual AAG (American Association of Geographers) convening is taking place in our own backyard of New Orleans, Louisiana.

The events I’m spearheading or involved with include:

Co-organizer with Yuki Kato (Georgetown) of the session ‘Urban Agriculture in post-“Disaster” Cities’

Co-presenter with Yuki Kato (Georgetown) of the paper ‘The Role of External Funding in the Development of Food Systems and Urban Agriculture in Post-Katrina New Orleans’  Session sponsored by the Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group, and Urban Geography

Organizer of the field trip and workshop at Grow Dat Youth Farm, ‘The History of the Land’ sponsored by the Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group

Co-author with Catarina Passidomo (University of Mississippi, Oxford) of the paper ‘New Orleans’ “Renaissance” and the New Southern Food Movement’ in the session ‘Food geographies: culture, media, politics 2’ sponsored by Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group and Media and Communication Geography

Discussant for the paper session ‘Bodies and Spaces ‘of’ and ‘at’ Risk in the City: Framings, Responses and Resistance (II)’ organized by my incredible colleagues at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the Department of Geography and the Environment, Jordana Ramalho, Laura Antona and Paroj Banerjee

Thanks to the Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group for helping organize the field trip to Grow Dat and for their sponsorship of our sessions here, in addition to many other convenings.