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Susan Spicer

Susan Spicer has been a vital part of the New Orleans restaurant scene since 1979, but it was her 1990 opening of Bayona, with its European, Asian, North African, and American flavors and its intimate French Quarter setting that turned heads all over town, and all over the country. In 1993, Bayona was elected to the Nation’s Restaurant News Hall of Fame, and Spicer won a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef/Southeast region. And when in 2000 she launched French-American bistro Herbsaint (with chef Donald Link, among other partners), Spicer became emblematic of what modern New Orleans food tasted like.  

So colorful and renowned was Spicer that David Simon, creator of the HBO New Orleans-based series Treme, modeled his show’s passionate chef character, Janette Desautel, on her. Spicer also served as a Treme consultant.

Spicer’s flair for French food began as a kid, when she cooked up sweet crêpes (what her mom called “roll-up pancakes,” she says) for herself and her brother on Saturday mornings. And she cultivated the art of French cuisine as an apprentice to Chef Daniel Bonnot at New Orleans’s Louis XVI Restaurant, during a stint in the kitchens of Paris, and in her own early restaurants, Savoir Faire (in the St. Charles Hotel), and, in 1986, the Bistro at Maison de Ville.

Now, along with Bayona and her casual neighborhood joint, Mondo (in the city’s Lakeview neighborhood), Spicer co-owns Wild Flour Breads, where she and partner Sandy Whann turn out handmade artisan loaves. She’s made guest appearances on Bravo’s Top Chef, and wrote the 2007 cookbook Crescent City Cooking: Unforgettable Recipes from Susan Spicer’s New Orleans, which, in the words of chef Lidia Bastianich, is a cookbook that’s “one big party.”

  • Moveable Feast

    Garlic- and Herb-Roasted Potatoes

    Perfect roasted potatoes, says Chef Spicer, “are all about the herbs—sage, rosemary, and thyme, just like the song.” Feel free to add your favorite herbs. And don’t forget to toss…

  • Moveable Feast

    Swiss Chard Fritters with Whipped Feta and Baby Beets

    Chef Spicer likes the sweet, rich, “slightly beany” flavor of chickpea flour, which she uses to bind these earthy chard fritters, and the pungent, “not too spicy” taste of Aleppo…

  • Moveable Feast

    Bartlett Farm, New Orleans (213)

    This episode of Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking takes you on a road trip across Lake Pontchartrain for a Louisiana-style farm dinner.

  • Recipe

    Grilled Striped Bass with Summer Tomatoes and Horta

    Horta is a simple Greek side dish made with a medley of edible leafy greens of the sort that grow wild on hillsides in the Mediterranean. The greens vary in…