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Jason Perlow

Pampy's Creole Kitchen (N.O.)

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NOTE: This topic is part of the Eating New Orleans series.

Pampy's Creole Kitchen

2005 N. Broad St., 949-7970

Moderator Note: Pampy's was destroyed by flooding in September 2005, and Executive Chef Austin Leslie passed away several weeks later. It has not been determined whether Pampy's will be rebuilt.

Those of you familiar with our previous trip to New Orleans in 2003 no doubt have heard our praises of Austin Leslie, the genius behind the fried chicken and second-in-command at Jacques-imos.

Pableaux Johnson discusses Austin at length in the Jacques-imos entry in his new June 2005 book, Eating New Orleans, who's restaurant reccomendations we used as the basis for our trip this year. Unfortunately, Jack Leonardi and Austin parted ways in November of 2004, and the book was not updated in time.

In December, the 71-year old Austin quickly bounced back on his feet, and is now heading the kitchen at Pampy's, a swank Creole-Soul fusion eatery owned by Stan "Pampy" Barre', who was once the head of security for former New Orleans mayor Dutch Morial. We ate at Pampy's twice during our visit, the first a quick lunch with Upperline owner Joanne Clevenger, and the second via invitation from the man himself, who dazzled us with his generosity and his incredible skill as an accomplished Creole and Soul Food chef. The man definitely knows how to run a kitchen and his way around a skillet.

If Willie Mae's Scotch House is the ultimate expression in Soul Food minimalism, then Pampy's is the polar opposite -- here Soul Food and Creole cuisine, the culinary legacy of poor African-Americans in Louisiana is elevated to the highest of highs. If anyone ever thought that Austin Leslie was nothing but a glorified fry chef, they would be wrong -- dead wrong, as you can see from the photos of food we had at Pampy's here. This is a destination restaurant that should not be missed -- and if you have to drag yourself out of the French Quarter or downtown New Orleans to do it, then you damn well should.

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Pampy's Main Dining Room

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Mustard Greens

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Tomato / Onion / Crab salad

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Austin's fried chicken with Garlic/Parsley Persillade. Perhaps one of the best examples of fried chicken I have ever had.

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As you can see, it was real juicy inside.

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Seafood Okra Gumbo

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Fried Pork Chop with Red Beans, Smoked Pork and Rice

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A Trio of soups -- seafood okra gumbo, file gumbo, and crab/corn soup.

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Cajun-injected deep fried cornish hen. In many ways, we felt this was one of the best dishes of the evening.

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Buffalo Shrimp with habaneros. HOT!

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BBQ Shrimp -- a creole and New Orleans classic. These were outstanding.

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I am not joking when I say these are the most amazing cornbread muffins I have ever had in my life.

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Stuffed Speckled Gulf Trout Meuniere

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Stuffed Peppers

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Bread pudding with a vanilla/sugar/bourbon sauce. Fantastic.

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Cornbread just out of the oven

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BBQ shrimp, in the pan

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Pepper crusted Filet Mignon getting a nice sear

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The secret to Austin's fried chicken -- NEVER BEEN FROZEN CHICKEN

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Finishing touches at the Salad and Dessert station.

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The "Godfather of Fried Chicken" himself

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From Terry Barre' via email:

We are all fine. we made it out.  The restarunt is gone, but we will try to rebuild when they let us in. Thaks for asking.

terry and stan

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Chef Austin Leslie has passed away:

Austin Leslie (New Orleans Times Picayune)

Chef Austin Leslie, the internationally recognized face of “Creole Soul” food who’s cooking underscored the debt New Orleans cuisine owes the African-American kitchen, died this morning in Atlanta, where he and his wife evacuated after Hurricane Katrina.

Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

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Chef Austin Leslie has passed away:

Austin Leslie (New Orleans Times Picayune)

Chef Austin Leslie, the internationally recognized face of “Creole Soul” food who’s cooking underscored the debt New Orleans cuisine owes the African-American kitchen, died this morning in Atlanta, where he and his wife evacuated after Hurricane Katrina.

Oh MAN!!!! 2005 is turning out to be a BAD year !!!

What a GREAT loss !

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the 1st post katrina jazz funeral has been held in Chief Austin Leslie's honor.. There are a few pictures at NOLA.com

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I was in NOLA this weekend and drove by Pampy's.

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I'm curious as to just how wrecked it actually is inside? Maybe the place is salvageable?

As to who would carry on in place of Austin is another matter entirely.

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I'm curious as to just how wrecked it actually is inside? Maybe the place is salvageable?

As to who would carry on in place of Austin is another matter entirely.

Looks like the water came about 3 feet. High water mark is about even with the trim on the siding dividing the green from the beige.

3 feet of water is a helluva lot of damage. That means cleaning up a foot of mud, replacing every bit of furniture, every appliance - including walkins. But that's only if the walls themselves can be salvaged. It looks like a stick built stucture, so every 2x4 stud in there is probably beyond hope at this late date. They may have had a chance if they could have ripped the drywall and insulation out and gotten it dried out quickly. But now, forget it.

It would be cheaper and easier to bulldoze the building and start over. They are probably going to end up doing that to entire neighborhoods.

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Along with all that you mention about replacing furniture, appliances, carpets, etc., there is probably a huge amount of nasty mold in there. The interior will have to be gutted to the studs and, as you note, the studs themselves may not be salvageable.

That said, I have been in some of the nearby neighborhoods (down Broad a little ways), where the flooding was similar and some people are gutting and getting ready to renovate.

And if there is going to be a neighborhood, then there will have to be restaurants. Right?

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It would be cheaper and easier to bulldoze the building and start over. They are probably going to end up doing that to entire neighborhoods.

No bulldozers. I cannot do this without resorting to politics and large amounts of invective, but I can say that among the very few rights that are reasonably well protected in Louisiana is the right to ownership and the to control the destiny of one's own property. I believe that IF you see a bulldozer, that it will be a while. Also, from a more practical standpoint, if many buildings are going to be destroyed, that they will be salvaged/dismantled first. This place is nothing if not one giant Restoration Hardware.

Surely many of you have read about the poverty and such in parts of the New Orleans area-well, it's kind of a funny thing in that the majority of homes in the 9th and the 7th (where Pampy's is) were owned by the occupants. This means that individuals will have to be dealt with before anything happens to their homes. Not only that, if the decision is made to tear them down, certainly much of the material in these homes (solid core cypress doors, heart pine flooring off of unflooded 2nd floors, beadboard on ceilings, cast iron door catches, porcelain and glass door knobs, hinges and pulls, etc., etc. etc, will be recovered in many cases. These houses, in many cases, while occupied by people with relatively low incomes, are architectural gems and have been pretty well kept by the occupants. Many of them want to rebuild/rehab, but have a hundred roadblocks in the way, insurance, frankly, being one of the lesser of the obstacles.

And Jason, when you say it doesn't look that bad, make sure that you consider that this water was in there for 3 weeks, and in many parts of the city, it got in again for another couple of weeks (not sure if Pampy's flooded twice). Saying that it looks like it can be cleaned up is a pretty broad statement. All of these will have to be assessed on a case by case basis. In fact, in the scheme of things, that building is not particularly valuable from an architectural standpoint. Part of it has been there a while, but all of the various renovations kind of ruined whatever was there in the first place.

It's very complicated and won't be solved anytime soon. This is going to go on for years. We're missing 2/3 of what was one of the more interesting cities in the world and no one has any idea how many people we are missing or how many actually got washed away with the tide.

On a happier note, the Quarter was full of revelers in costume last night. And one thing about all of this is that we have an official theme for Mardi Gras if today's costumes are any indication. I saw walking refrigerators, guys wearing boats, big foam FEMA checks, blue roof people, lots of Brownies (not the little girls, but the kind from FEMA), and many, many folks with various kinds of survival related costumes. It was really heartening to see it all. This morning as I walked back in the Faubourg to get my car, I passed down Frenchman and there was garbage everywhere-but it was the kind that we like to see-beer bottles, food wrappers, cocktail glasses, and other accoutrement of New Orleans nightlife. People are here-they are alive-there just aren't many of us and we are missing much of what makes the place what it is. But, being who we are, we can put together a party inspite of anything. This may not be judged as much of an accomplishment by many of you, but to us, well, it's normalcy.

It's still weird here, though. As I was walking down Constance last night after a fine repast of red beans and laughter enjoyed with some good friends, I heard an odd sound from way down the street (it is very, very quiet in most parts of town and you can hear things that you would never heard before), it was a large diesel truck at midnight. Even among the ruins, that's odd as the clean up guys don't work at night. I got in my car, which happens to be missing, among other things, a headlight on the dim side (I have got to get that fixed, but I never think of it until it's night-there should be nightime garages for people like me) and drove off towards the Quarter. Well, the noise turned out to be a humvee slowly driving through this uptown neighborhood. They pulled me over and let me know that my light was out (of course, I acted suprised). The conversation turned to what I was doing out at that time of night and why I was so far from home (my drivers license has Abita Springs on it) and when I told them that I had been at dinner, we immediately forgot about any potential violations that I might be guilty of and started discussing the RIGHT way to cook redbeans and how you just can't get decent sausage in this town right now (these guys were from Lafayette-they know from decent sausage). There I was, a block from the river, only a couple of blocks from that Wal Mart you all saw being looted on TV (over and over again), talking to a bunch of guys in a humvee carrying BIG GUNS, about redbeans, sausage, Lejeune's bakery, Grant Street Dancehall, the poor state of duck hunting (the marshes are in bad shape-the ducks have no lunch), and crummy politicians and women in skimpy costumes. It's a great town. All the water in the world can't take that away from us.

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