July 26, 2017
By: Jelisa Castrodale, Vice Munchies
"In New Orleans, Popeyes doesn’t even qualify as fast food."
My restaurant, Willa Jean, is named after my grandmother, and everybody wants that really nice Southern story about how my grandmother taught me how to cook, but in reality she was absolutely terrible in the kitchen. She was the one who was always my champion, like, 'Yeah, move to New Orleans,' and 'Yeah, you should cook, and I'm going to help you.' She taught me how to be myself and put myself out there without apologizing for it. She's badass.
New Orleans is one of those cities that you either love or hate. It's part of who you are, or it's not, and there's rarely an in-between. I snuck down here for the first time in high school and felt like I was part of it from that first time. I used the idea of college as an excuse to leave home and come down here, and then I started cooking.