In this edition of Wine and Dine, I have the pleasure of interviewing Chef Taylor Porch - Previous Head Chef of the Ruby Slipper Café and creator of NOLA She Chef - Personal Chef Services. This article includes my one on one interview with Chef Taylor in her own words and she has blessed us with one of her amazingly tasty recipes. So sit back, relax and enjoy getting to know this prestigious female chef of color.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, including where you are today, professionally, and what got you here?
I have been in the Culinary business for over 15 years! I started as a Prep Cook and worked my way up the ranks through restaurants until I became the Head Chef at with the Ruby Slipper Cafe! I worked for that company almost 5 years until mid 2021 when I decided to start my own Personal Chef business! Since starting NOLA She Chef-Personal Chef Services, I have been enjoying the being a Chef like never before!
What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Being from New Orleans, La gave me a certain advantage when it came to the culinary world. Rather you enjoy cooking or not you are always surrounded by amazing food! I also had an advantage of have a family full of amazing cooks! As soon as I could see over the stove my grandmother was showing me how to make a roux! Being raised in this culture and loving food put me in the position to fall in love with cooking and creole foods! Even as a kid when I envisioned myself being a Marine Biologist my heart was always with cooking!
What’s your signature dish?
I don’t have a particular signature dish but because the majority of my Dinner Party clients are tourists I make a lot of Cajun and Creole cuisines such as Jambalaya, Gumbo, New Orleans Style Barbecue Shrimp etc. However, I especially enjoy working with my meal prep clients! Because they are mostly locals and have access to local cuisines I get to spread my wings and prepare all types of international cuisines and expand their palettes! That is my absolute favorite part of being a Chef!
How would you describe your cooking style?
Because I am a Personal Chef, I can be quite a Chameleon with my style! The whole concept behind a Dinner Party prepared by a Personal Chef is that your experience is Personalized! If you want a traditional Creole dinner, I can do that! If you want a 5 star fancy plated dinner with out having to get on a waitlist or reserve 3 months ahead, I am your Chef! It is completely about the experience my client wants instead of what I choose to give them!
What is your favorite ingredient to create with and why? Seafood is definitely my absolute favorite!
I grew up between the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico which gives us New Orleanians access to an abundance of fresh Shrimp, Fish, Oysters, and Crab among some! There are sooo many wonderful dishes you can make with seafood and having a dish with fresh Gulf seafood will change your life!
What is your favorite dish to cook at home?
It will definitely have to be a tie between Seafood Gumbo and Red Beans and Rice!
What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
My favorite guilty pleasure is Ice Cream! I’m lactose intolerant so I stick to mostly Dairy Free Ice Cream these days but sometimes I just need some good ol’ fashioned Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream or good Pistachio Almond to make everything right with the world!
How would you describe the food you create to someone who’s never experienced your kind of food?
I would describe New Orleans Cuisine as a melting pot of flavors! The original fusion food! A blend of French, African, Caribbean, and even Native American cuisines! It’s a true reflection of the wonderful cultural influences in New Orleans!
How have the lockdown restrictions affected your work?
I actually got into the Personal Chef business because of the Pandemic! I was watching all of these Chefs around the country leaving the high stress, sleep depriving, and under paid restaurant business to be Personal Chefs! They were making a lucrative business because people would rather entertain from their home or Air BnB’s and Clients who ordered out all the time would rather have someone do the grocery shopping and cooking for half the price and less COVID risk! It’s a constantly growing business and I wish I had gotten into it sooner!
What’s your favorite flavor combination?
Anything sweet and savory of course! Flavors that you wouldn’t expect like Blackberry Jalapeño Wings! Those types of flavor combinations never cease to surprise my clients.
What are your future plans in the culinary world?
One of my biggest inspirations is this company based out of Austin, Texas called Gather and Forge they started out some years ago with two friends doing the same thing I do now. Now they have grown their business exponentially! They have multiple chefs working for the company that cook for dinner parties and meal prep and they have a wonderful following and high profile clients! One day I would like to expand my business this way! I would like to be synonymous with private dinning experiences and in home meal prep in New Orleans!
Cheesy Crawfish Bread
by Chef Taylor Porch
· 1 pound of cooked Crawfish Tails
· 1 small Yellow Onion small diced
· 1 small Red Bell Pepper deveined and small diced
· 1/2 Stalk of Celery small diced
· 1 Clove of Garlic
· 2 teaspoons of Italian Parsley
· 1 tablespoon of sliced scallions for garnish
· 1/2 teaspoon of Smoked Paprika
· 1/2 teaspoon of Dried Thyme
· 1 teaspoon of Tony Cacheres Creole Seasoning or available Creole Seasoning
· 2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
· 1/3 cup of water or seafood stock
· 1 large loaf of French Bread
· 1 cup of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a 4 quart sauce pot, and add yellow onions, sauté for 1 minute, add bell peppers and celery. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until veggies are almost softened. Add garlic, sauté for 2 additional minutes until garlic is fragrant but not browned.
Add 1 Lb. of Crawfish tails with fat and juice to sauce pot, Along with 1/4 cup of water or seafood stock. Stir in dry seasonings and parsley, sauté for a few minutes until ingredients are just incorporated. Remove from heat. Make sure not to over cook crawfish they will finish in the oven.
Slice off just the top 1/3 of the French Bread and discard, leaving the bottom 2/3 of loaf. Scoop half of the bread from the inside of the bottom loaf to create a “boat” and discard. Fill with the crawfish mixture and top with shredded cheeses.
Place Crawfish bread on lined sheet pan and bake for 3-5 minutes or until Cheese is melted and French Bread is toasted! Garnish with sliced scallions. Slice and serve!
Makes 4 to 5 Servings