Kim's Excellent Adventure to NOLA

There's a big suitcase nearly filled to the gills causing traffic in my bedroom. Instead of cute outfits and light reading about my intended destination, my bags are packed with kitchen garb and gear -- chef's coats and baggy pants, clogs, do-rags, a heap of crusty T-shirts, a knife kit, plenty of Vitamin C, and if there's room, a portable burner.

This morning, I am headed for New Orleans, where I will be joining 15 other cooks whose luggage contents will be nearly identical to mine. We are flying in from all points around the country to cook for others in need and to cook up awareness for a city still recovering and rebuilding, nearly two years since Hurricane Katrina.

For the next week, we will collaborate as members of Culinary Corps, a new organization dedicated to bringing culinary professionals into the fold of community service. It is the brainchild of Christine Carroll, a former Americorps VISTA volunteer in Alaska and recent graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York.

Carroll has identified several projects that our group will be involved with, including Emergency Communities, a disaster relief camp in the Lower Ninth Ward, where for two days, we will be cooking lunch and dinner for hundreds of families still living in FEMA trailers or without access to shelter basics such as running water or three square meals. On other days, we'll be working with kids at the Edible Schoolyard New Orleans, the schoolyard garden program founded by Alice Walters of Chez Panisse fame in Berkeley, Calif., as well as Café Reconcile, a culinary training program for at-risk teens. There's a farmer's market focus, which I'm thrilled about, and one day, we're headed down to the Gulf, for a first-hand look at the shrimping and oystering industries that were ravaged by the storm.

I must sign off, as I've got to zip up my bags, but don't worry, I wont be disappearing into the Bayou sunset. All week long, I'll be filing dispatches in this very space, and through text and photos, bringing this forgotten city to you.

Wish us luck!

By Kim ODonnel |  June 1, 2007; 10:09 AM ET New Orleans
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If you love yourself, go to Hansen's Sno Ball on Tschopitoulas (right by Napoleon).

Posted by: NOLA Transplant | June 1, 2007 12:20 PM

Kim, long-time reader/fan here posting my first comment to applaud you and wish you good luck. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures, and kudos to you for bringing an important issue to the forefront using your unique skills. You are the best!

Posted by: anonymous | June 1, 2007 12:24 PM


Wow, sounds like fun - okay, in a really warped way, but I really like things like this. Anyway, enjoy NOLA and drink some chickory coffee for me! Thanks for the link to CulinaryCorps, I'm always looking for programs like this (and Edible Schoolyard) as I'm torn between working in a bakery/pastry shop and working with outreach programs.

Posted by: Culinary Student Honolulu, HI | June 2, 2007 4:47 AM

Good luck!! Sounds like a great thing you will be doing.

Posted by: | June 4, 2007 7:45 AM

A local gal's list of New Oreleans food faves:
Jacquimo's on Oak St. for the stuffed mirliton and the fried chicken; Liuzza's at the Track for gumbo and frosty mugs of Abita Amber; Pascal's Manale on Napoleon for fresh shucked oysters and martinis; Zara's Grocery on Magazine for catfish po boys; Dante's Kitchen on Dante St. for shrimp grits and the grits and grillades; Central Grocery in the Quarter for the muffletta. I've been away for a while, am home to stay, and working my way through this list of stellar restaurants. Everybody keep the faith!

Posted by: Larisa Gray, New Orleans | June 14, 2007 11:41 PM


You brought back so many memories for me.
Love to hear how NO is recovering from that dreadful Hurricane.
I live in New Zealand but spent several vacations in NO at the Jazz Fest many years ago.
We had so much fun there. Don't know when or if we will return. It's a big many places and so little time.
Love your work.

Posted by: GIlli | June 18, 2007 11:16 PM

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