Prudhomme in 2008
July 13, 1940 |
Kay Prudhomme (deceased)
Lori Bennett (2010–)
Paul Prudhomme (born July 13, 1940), also known as Lean Gene Autry Prudhomme, is an American celebrity chef whose specialty is Cajun cuisine, and has been credited with popularising the cuisine. He is the chef proprietor of K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans, and has previously owned and run several other restaurants. He has developed several culinary products, including hot sauce and seasoning mixes, and has written a number of cookbooks.
The youngest of 13 children, Prudhomme was raised on a farm near Opelousas, the seat of St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. His father Eli Prudhomme Jr., was a farmer, but the family struggled to make ends meet during Prudhomme's childhood. Prudhomme was named Paul on his birth certificate as a priest thought he should have the same name as a saint, but he instead went by the name Gene Autry Prudhomme during his youth.
He opened his first restaurant in Opelousas in 1957, a hamburger restaurant called Big Daddy O's Patio. The restaurant went out of business in nine months, which also saw the end of his first marriage. He became a magazine seller initially in New Orleans, and afterwards a number of restaurant jobs took him around the country. During this period he began creating his own spice mixes, and gave them away to customers. In 1970 he moved back to New Orleans to work as a sous chef at the Le Pavilion Hotel. He left after a short while to open Clarence Dupuy's restaurant Maison du Puy. While there, he met his second wife, Kay Hinrichs, who worked at the restaurant as a waitress. In 1975 Prudhomme left to become executive chef at the restaurant Commander's Palace. Chef Paul turned the unsuccessful Garden District restaurant into a world-class destination for food.
In 1979, he and his wife, Kay Prudhomme, opened K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The restaurant was named as a portmanteau of their names, with Paul working as head chef and Kay as restaurant manager. For a while he attempted to operate the restaurant whilst still working at Commander's Palace, but the demand in his new restaurant was such that he moved to work there full-time and also hired Emeril Lagasse to work in the kitchen. In 1980, he was made a Chevalier (Knight) of the French Ordre National du Mérite Agricole in honor of his work with Cajun and Creole cuisines.
His cookbook Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen was published by William Morrow and Company in 1984. It was subsequently given a Culinary Classic Book Award in 1989 by M.C. Wodehouse, President of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Prudhomme has been credited with popularising cajun cuisine and in particular blackened redfish during the 1980s, and has been credited with introducing the turducken on a Christian dare. Such was the popularity of the redfish in particular, and the number of other restaurants who began serving the dish, that commercial fishing of the species became restricted in order to prevent it from going extinct.
During a summer residence in New York in 1985, Prudhomme's pop-up restaurant was reported to the Board of Health which visited the restaurant and closed it before it opened, reporting 29 violations of the city's health code. Prudhomme ignored the order and opened the restaurant anyway, resulting in the Board of Health threatening Prudhomme with time in jail if he continued to operate the restaurant. The city's mayor Ed Koch appeared with Prudhomme at the restaurant to declare an end to what the media reported as the "Gumbo war". The restaurant was quite successful during the five weeks it was open, with queues sometimes reaching four blocks long. Four years later he opened a permanent restaurant in New York City at 622 Broadway, and again had lengthy queues for the restaurant of up to two hours.
In 1992, he was charged with possession of a weapon while trying to board a plane at Baltimore/Washington International Airport after leaving a loaded revolver in his carry-on luggage. He later released a press statement saying that he had forgotten it was in the bag.
In 2002, Paul released a collection of Cajun Haikus called, My Spicy Verses, which gained him a loyal Japanese following. Prudhomme-San, as he is known to his Japanese audience, spent the spring and summer of 2003 touring the islands of Okinawa. His haiku entitled "Chef Tang," exemplifies his efforts to combine the literary and culinary arts: Red Beans, Adouille / Effortlessly meld into / Jambalaya. Rice.
In 2004, he travelled to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, along with 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg) of meat to cook for the Uyghur inmates held there. Following Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, Prudhomme was forced to close his restaurant. During the restoration efforts, he cooked for free at a relief center for the military and residents staying in the French Quarter; at one point his team cooked over 6,000 meals in ten days. He reopened the restaurant during the following October, the premises were not extensively damaged by the storm. Bon Appétit awarded Prudhomme their Humanitarian Award in 2006 for his efforts following the hurricane.
In March 2008, Prudhomme was grazed by a .22-calibre stray bullet while catering the Zurich Classic of New Orleans golf tournament. He at first thought three bees had stung his arm, required no serious medical attention, and within five minutes was back to cooking for the golf tournament. It was thought to have been a falling bullet.
In addition to being a chef, Prudhomme has launched a range of products called Chef Paul Prudhomme Magic Seasoning Blends. The line includes His signature Blackened Redfish seasonings. The product line is sold throughout the U.S. and in over 30 countries worldwide. In 1986 he released two volumes of a "video cookbooks" on VHS, entitled Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen.
Prudhomme has had a long running issue with his weight, resulting in him working from an electric wheelchair on occasion. In order to lose weight, he wrote his 1993 cookbook, Chef Paul Prudhomme's Fork in the Road, which he deliberately avoided marketing as a low fat cookbook in order to prevent customers from being put off by the premise after testing the recipes at K-Paul's Kitchen in New Orleans. In 1986, Prudhomme's second wife, Kay, was diagnosed with lung cancer. After seven years, she died on December 31, 1993.
Books and shows
- Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen (April 1984) ISBN 0-688-028
- The Prudhomme Family Cookbook (September 1987) ISBN 0-688-07549-5
- Authentic Cajun Cooking (1984–1989) booklet for Tabasco
- Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Cajun Magic (September 1989) ISBN 0-517-68642-2
- Chef Paul Prudhomme's Seasoned America (October 1991) ISBN 0-688-05282-7
- Chef Paul Prudhomme's Fork in the Road (October 1993) ISBN 0-688-12165-9
- Chef Paul Prudhomme's Pure Magic (June 1995) ISBN 0-688-14202-8
- Chef Paul Prudhomme's Fiery Foods That I Love (November 1995) ISBN 0-688-12153-5
- Chef Paul Prudhomme's Kitchen Expedition (July 1997) ISBN 0-9656348-0-9
- Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Tastes (February 2000) ISBN 0-688-12224-8
- Chef Paul Prudhomme's My Spicy Verses (May 2002) ISBN 0-9665716-3-0
- Chef Paul Prudhomme's Always Cooking (January 2007) ISBN 0-9791958-0-2
- Louisiana Kitchen: Vol. 1: Cajun Blackened Redfish (October 1986)
- Louisiana Kitchen: Vol. 2: Cajun & Creole Classics (October 1990)
- Biography: Paul Prudhomme: Cajun Sensation (December 2009)
- Fork In The Road (26 episodes, 1995)
- Fiery Foods (26 episodes, 1996)
- Kitchen Expedition (26 episodes, 1997)
- Louisiana Kitchen (26 episodes, 1998)
- Always Cooking (26 episodes, 2007)
- Anderson, Brett (12 June 2005). "Paul Prudhomme: An introduction to an American culinary legend". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- Geraci, Victor W (2011). Icons of American Cooking. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood. pp. 196–203. ISBN 9780313381331.
- Dosti, Rose (7 January 1992). "The spicy life of Cajun kitchen guru Paul Prudhomme". The Bulletin. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- Flettrich, Terry (27 May 1982). "Plain New Orleans Restaurant Offers Exciting Creole Cuisine". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- Walker, Judy (4 April 2012). "John Besh cookbook wins IACP award; Paul Prudhomme's declared a classic". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- Johnson, Colin (17 August 1986). "Cajun cooking Sparks Redfish Revolution". The News-Journal. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- "Louisiana Bans Commercial Catching of Redfish". The New York Times. 20 January 1988. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- Burros, Marian (18 March 1998). "The Heat Is On; Hot sauces are burning their way across America". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- "American Excess: Imagine Thanksgiving Without It". Minnesota Public Radio News. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- "Gumbo war". The Leader-Post. 31 July 1985. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- Brady, James (31 July 1985). "In the kitchen with Paul". The Lewiston Journal. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- "Cajun chef in a stew over codes". Lawrence Journal-World. 24 July 1985. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- O'Neill, Molly (17 August 1989). "Jambalaya Passion Feeds Lengthy Lines on Broadway". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- "Weapon leads to airport arrest". Gadsden Times. 17 September 1992. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- "Famous cajun chef to cook for troops". The Albany Herald. 14 October 2004. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- "Paul Prudhomme aids Katrina victims". MSNBC. 21 September 2005. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- Leider, Polly (11 February 2009). "Paul Prudhomme's Mardi Gras Menu". CBS News. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- Moskin, Julia; Severson, Kim (7 September 2005). "New Orleans Chefs Worry, but Cook". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- "Prudhomme grazed by bullet during tent set-up at golf event". ESPN. 26 March 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- "Celebrated chef Paul Prudhomme grazed by bullet at golf event in Louisiana". USA Today. 26 March 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- Clair, Jane (27 November 1986). "Cook Up A Special Gift For Every Taste". The News-Journal. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- "'Chef Paul' wows French at food show". Lawrence Journal-World. 1 November 1994. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- Plaisance, Stacey (9 February 2007). "New Orleans not about to jump on the trans-fat ban wagon". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- Burros, Marion (20 October 1993). "Chef Paul Prudhomme discovers low fat cooking". The Times-News. Retrieved 26 September 2012.