KITCHEN QUEENS: NEW ORLEANS is a locally produced series from WYES-TV that spotlights women chefs changing the culinary landscape of New Orleans. Dedicated to the late Leah Chase, the series explores the food and stories of women chefs who reflect New Orleans’ diverse heritage, which includes Creole, Cajun, Vietnamese, Latin American and Italian.
Among the chefs featured in Kitchen Queens are James Beard Award-winners and a bumper crop of talented women at the helm of restaurants across the city. Each episode will be shot on location, in the kitchens of these talented women as they share their food and stories.
Chef Susan Spicer
As one of the most beloved chefs in New Orleans, Susan Spicer is known for her talent and passion for cooking. She’s competed on Bravo’s Top Chef, played a character in NCIS: New Orleans and appeared on HBO’s Treme. She’s also a published author and an inspiration to many.
Her love of the cuisine of her hometown is evident in her dishes at Rosedale and Bayona, where she serves her favorite recipes in a casual, homey atmosphere. The restaurant is a hit on both sides of the river, with a long line out the door during peak lunch hours and a reputation for excellence in local cuisine.
She’s also an advocate for the local culinary community and has been a part of the Nola Food Truck movement. Her latest project, the Diva Dawg Food Truck, was named Best of the City by The Times-Picayune in 2015.
Another chef in the show with a strong New Orleans culinary legacy is Miami native Christina Balzebre, who made the move to New Orleans after finishing her degree at Loyola University. She stayed in the Crescent City, working her way up the ladder, first as a juicer and then as a pastry chef, before landing at her current job as Executive Pastry Chef at the popular Levee Baking Co.
In her own words, Balzebre says she “grew up in the kitchen” and was introduced to a variety of cuisines as a child. Her culinary career started at a small restaurant in Miami and then led her to a position at Galatoire’s, where she helped create the modern menu that has transformed the renowned establishment.
After that, she was offered a job at Commander’s Palace, the restaurant where Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse got their start. The storied restaurant has been credited with pushing the boundaries of fine dining in New Orleans, but Bickford sees her role as “to be an educator of new techniques and new ideas to keep it relevant.”
Her focus is on the future, with a commitment to educating young cooks about the art of cooking while using local ingredients and sustainable practices. She has developed an online curriculum based on the concepts of the John Folse Culinary Institute, and her work has been published in FSR Magazine and Louisiana Cookin’.
The chefs in Kitchen Queens are a diverse group of talented women who represent a wide range of New Orleans cultural backgrounds, and they all have their own unique approach to food. From Vietnamese and Mexican restaurants to Creole and Cajun cafes, the kitchen queens of New Orleans are redefining the city’s restaurant culture, while celebrating the traditions that have made it so special for generations.