Food Reporting Syllabus
Assignments 67 through 72

The New Orleans EAT BOOK
by Tom Fitzmorris
Editor Menu Magazine
New Orleans, Big Bend & Pacific Company, Publisher
© 1991
Thirteenth Edition

Note how many editions of this guide had been published up to 1991. Open this cover of this bent copy and see this warning: This book is already out of date. Fitzmorris, the man reporting on the nation's most important restaurant city in the last century, and, maybe in these post-Katrina years, said he could not control "the volatile world of restaurants from changing." That is still true in this century.So, then and now he keeps updates on his website and MENU, one of the most popular dining city guides in the USA. This dated edition, is suggested as a study for guide writing style. This 13th edition offered 300 reviews and criticisms. Over the years his EAT BOOK became a keeper for visitors to New Orleans. The index is unique. Repeat visitors keep the old editions to check-off the names of the restaurant visits.

Fitzmorris is still on the NOLA beat,
Click Here:

Hungry Town
A Culinary History of New Orleans
The City Where Food Is Almost Everything
by Tom Fitzmorris
Stewart, Tabori & Chang, An Imprint of Abrams
© 2010

If the top 50 restaurant reviewers in the United States had a choice of the city they wanted to cover as a regular beat, bet your beignet it would be New Orleans. Food and restaurant writer, herein a historian, Tom Fitzmorris has the job. When it comes to food journalism, the Fitzmorris beat is the best food city in the nation.

While it is a food glorious food beat, Fitzmorris was the center of the storm when Katrina visited his city. Restaurants provide the life blood for business in New Orleans. People in that city live to eat in public places. Katrina in one horrible afternoon killed off the heart of that city.

Chapter 9 headlines it this way: Eight Hundred and Nine to Zero. Translated, Hurricane Katrina closed every restaurant and corner food venue in the city.

Chapter 10 is the story of survival for the most important single element in the city: Rebirth Begins in the Kitchen.

For a quicky reason to include this book... it is the story of a young man who was introduced to a sliced roast beef sandwich with gravy... at age eight... and was hooked. Hooked. Jump to adult status and, possibly, his original infatuation with food outside his home, see page 36 and there's his recipe for roast beef poor boys.

Fitzmorris grew up to be a food investigator. From such a career base he now serves his city with daily
radio show, his ink-on-newsprint MENU (see Book 69) and to be current, a website that reaches a free world interested in NOLA star attractions, serious restaurants with chefs and proprietors to match.

Opinion Sought: Is there a movie scipt here?

After credits, the opening scene comes from page 127... actor Richard Geer in the lead role preparing the Fitzmorris recipe for braised pork belly. That's New Orleans.

200 New Orleans Restaurants
Critical Dining Reviews
by Tom Fitzmorris
For the year 1984
New Orleans Big Bend and Company; 8th edition
© 1984

For 1984? For all the right reasons this quarter-century old dining guide is as useful in 2010 as it was when originally compiled. The prominent restaurant names in 1984 were, almost in order of tourist (*) appeal, Commander's Palace, Dooky Chase, Brennan's, K-Paul's Louisana Kitchen, Cafe du Monde, Mosca's...

Even Gumbo Shop is reviewed by Fitzmorris for the touristy flock. It has long been on the avoid list for the Grumpy Gourmet. Details upon request.

Old dated copies are available through The value is to see how Fitzmorris covered his city over the decades. The study value is to see if every major city could support such a print guide.

Tom Fitzmorris Website

(*) Mine. Doral Chenoweth, Editor

Cookery N'Orleans Style
Cookery N'Orleans
© 1984

Review Pending


Bonus 88:
Secrets of a New Orleans Chef
Recipes from Tom Cowman's Cookbook
by Greg Cowman
University Press of Mississippi
© 1999

He was born Thomas Crawford Cowman in Columbus, Ohio. But his palate probably was born in a place like Paris or Cuernavaca... so begins the story of a self-taught chef who departed the advertising trade to cook, a hobby honed on Long Island, as in New York, eateries. Cowman even owned a well-received New York restaurant. Then New York Times critic Craig Claiborne gave him three stars out of a possible four.

In the mid-1970s his hobby and heart took him to restaurant mecca, New Orleans. The story begins...

This is a book of recipes, not all with kinships to Creole cooking.

Chef Cowman opened a restaurant in New Orleans. But his restaurant did not become famous for traditional Cajun approaches. The book is a heavyweight loaded with recipes for such diverse entries as chocolate cake, onion sandwiches, smoked eggplant salad, quiche Lorraine... oh, there are many indigenous to the city. But that is not what this tome is about. It is a personality script, a talent in a food city loaded with such. Tom Cowman was a star chef long before there was an Emeril Lagasse.

One odd entry: Sauteed blowfish. The chef described blowfish as a sea squab, "delicious fish and easy to prepare." There is an asterisk after notation of the main ingredient, 12-16 blowfish cleaned (*).

That (*), "be sure the liver and ovaries are removed as they are poisonous!" It is doubtful K-Paul's will ever serve blowfish.

Pause a bit: An extended review is pending.

Chef Paul Prudhomme's Fork in the Road
A Different Direction in Cooking
by Paul Prudhomme
William Morrow and Company
© 1993

No author named? For food reporting students, that is much of the story with this book. By the time a team of writers, editors, dietitians and deadline ramrods provided by the publisher get into the act, Chef Prudhomme's life partner and wife, K, had passed on. It took a staff of People, those in his kitchen and the Morrow Company to birth this book.

K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen was named for his wife, K, Kay Prudhomme.

K had been the spark in his life and was considered the inspiration to open this Cajun eatery. By the time his Fork in the Road hit book shelves, long before there was a Barnes & Noble or Amazon, the Prudhomme name had been on his books. They covered his Seasoned America, a compilation of his family recipes and one on the generalities of his Louisiana Kitchen.

All promoted his restaurant, actually at the time, a two-story frame structure from a time long ago. Outwardly, the place looked as though the fire department was heading away in a different direction. Prudhomme's corporate office was next door, a modern, brick and sturdy but modest and signless building. That original frail structure that seated 62, in 1996, has since been refurbished and expanded to serve more than 200 dining guests.

A personal note: K-Paul's new restaurant, two levels, has open kitchens, accepts credit cards and reservations. In 1984 I was seated on his dining room throne... a two-seat raised platform affair in the rear left corner of his original restaurant. From there he could sit and watch what was going on in his kitchen. At the time his first book was on the market. He signed a copy for me. In keeping with his growing fame I had his blackened red fish. I kept my opinion to myself. Paul was very personable. I enjoyed the experience.

— Doral Chenoweth

Chef Paul's Website

Star Bonus 8:
Who's Your Mama, Are You Catholic, and Can You Make a Roux?
by Marcelle Bienvenu
Acadian House Publishing
© 2006

Written by the literary queen of Cajun cooking; Authored a weekly column, Creole Cooking for the New Orleans Times-Picayune; has been featured in the New York Times, Redbook, Southern Living and Food & Wine.

A Selection of Stories and Columns
(From The Grand Forks Herald)
by Marilyn Hagerty
Publisher: Grand Forks Herald
c 1994
Teaser: There's a career road map for wanna-be restaurant writers... before becoming a shoot-from-the-lip blogger or citizen journalist sans portfolio, train as a qualified reporter first, then a reviewer, and a critic once you have the credentials. Meet Marilyn Hagerty.

Why this country newspaper columnist in a collection of big city food names such as R.W. Apple, Jr., Craig Claiborne and Molly O'Neill? Because...she's a trained ink-on-pulp reporter, University of South Dakota, she's been in a busy newsroom for 60 years, she's covered all the usual beats and for six decades has written a daily column mixed with life and living, heavy on local names.

Because...she recognized the importance of food in her daily culture. One of her columns was titled The Eatbeat. And therein is one reason her collection of columns was put together by her newspaper two decades ago. The second major reason for being a part of this syllabus...her review of a new chain restaurant in Grand Forks, North Dakota. She liked the meal and service of the Olive Garden, very much a formula eatery operating with a by-the-numbers kitchen manager, not a chef per se.

Her review went viral. When big city Internet folk found humor in the review that this country correspondent had reported on the opening of a noted chain eatery in her 60,000-population city, they posted guffaw comments. It was a big laugh. So much so the Wall Street Journal picked up the story and front paged it.

Marilyn Hagerty was good ink across the country. Morning television lured her to New York City. The Wall Street Journal ran a front page story on this country reporter finding interest in a huge corporate restaurant outfit opening in a North Dakota Her review of Olive Garden was positive.

The next day her son, James Hagerty, found himself a part of his mom's story. He's a reporter on the Wall Street Journal. The day after all the social media flap was fading, he had to do his human interest front page story on his 85-year-old mom.

"When mom goes viral..." was his Journal lead. He didn't mention the fact his mom had won many professional writing awards in the Dakotas and Minnesota. He didn't do a backgrounder that she was a child of the Depression and Dust Bowl. Her son reporter didn't mention that mom has a national reputation for nutrition writing albeit a few decades old.

Reporter son did use the one exacting word to describe his mother's approach to the Olive Garden. It was a review. Review. Review. She does not critique, per se. In mom's first post-Olive Garden interview with big city media she was careful to explain her reporting on a restaurant. She never uses the word critic. In the three-step to publishing opinion in a food column -- be a reporter first, reviewer second, and onto the step of expressing an opinion about what is on the plate. Then you're a critic. Mrs. Hagerty, age, education, day job, experience, years qualifies her to review and critique in any market.

When the Wining Dining Hall of Fame, 1980s, is released, scroll down under H for Hagerty, Marilyn.

— Doral Chenoweth