“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
Award-winning author, media personality, educator, and culinary historian Poppy Tooker was born and bred in the birthplace of brunch—New Orleans. Poppy is passionate about food and the people who bring it to the table. Her books include the award-winning titles Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook; Louisiana Eats! The People, the Food and Their Stories; Madame Begue’s Recipes of Old New Orleans Creole Cookery; Tujague’s Cookbook; and Pascal’s Manale Cookbook. She hosts the weekly NPR affiliated radio program Louisiana Eats! And on lucky weekends you can find Poppy hosting drag queen brunch events throughout her beloved city.
How did your love of writing about food start?
In the summer of 2005, Louisiana Cooking asked me to write about a Slow Food/Voodoo event I hosted on St. John’s Eve at the Duncan Kenner mansion. I’d always had a love of the written word, and somehow I found my voice in writing that piece.
You’re on TV, on the radio, in books, tell us a bit more about your career as a media personality?
I am the accidental media personality. Both my seat on Steppin’ Out and my ten years on air with Louisiana Eats came to me by happenchance and the kindness of friends like Peggy Scott Laborde and the late, Diana Pinckley.
If we had the chance to peek at your schedule, what would an average day look like?
There simply IS no average day. I have never been a 9 – 5 regularly scheduled kind of girl. You’ll find me in the recording studio at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum working on Louisiana Eats and at WYES taping Steppin’ Out almost every week. Those are the most “average” parts of a Poppy week. Some days are spent alone with my computer and my dog, Buddy. On a perfect day, I’m shopping at a farmer’s market or in similar pursuit of food.
Which skills do you think are imperative for someone looking to make her own name in the media?
A HAPPY ATTITUDE! Love what you do – or please, just don’t do it!
Tell us about your new book and why you decided to write about Drag Brunches.
Drag Queen Brunch takes readers through the history of drag in New Orleans, introduces them to the new drag scene that has developed here over the last few years and gives them a personal look at a sampling of who is doing drag here and why. The book provides not only a behind the scenes look at life in drag, but is also accompanied by 60 delicious recipes from New Orleans best brunch restaurants.
I hope that once readers have enjoyed the beauty, glamour and deliciousness of the first 158 pages, they will read the epilogue and learn about Joe Middleton and our drag queen friends from the 1980’s, the “Demented Woman” who we lost during the AIDS crisis. As HIV is now a chronic illness rather than a death sentence, it’s important that young generations remember the generation of beautiful, talented wonderful people who were lost back then.
What’s your favorite brunch menu item?
Eggs Sardou with Lump Crabmeat
Where do you unwind after a busy week?
Perched high in an oak tree on my second floor gallery.
How do you handle work/life balance?
I stop and walk away. Luckily, City Park is my next door neighbor!
What challenges have you faced as a female business owner?
I can manage myself but managing other people is a historical challenge for me. My business manager, who also is my daughter, Maddy Mouledoux is my secret weapon who makes it all possible.
One thing you can’t live without?
To learn more about Poppy Tooker and her new book, Drag Queen Brunch, visit poppytooker.com
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