Getting a Taste of New Orleans

Phylis Accardo
Phylis Accardo

NEW ORLEANS (KHNL) -- When it comes to food, Hawaii has it's rice, poi, sahimi, lau lau, kaula pig, and malasadas.

Here in New Orleans it's all about benyeits, etufee, jumbalaya, and of course the primary staple, gumbo.

And as I found out, the main ingredient is something you can't buy on any store shelf.

When you think of New Orleans, Bourbon Street is usually the first thought that comes to mind.

But  little, if anything else,  defines this city like the food. And at the heart of any good cajon style meal is the gumbo.

"Whenever I tell someone how to cook something I tell them when you think you have enough seasonings add a little bit more," said Phylis Accardo.

Accardo has been cooking up gumbo for more than 20 years at "deanies".    Like her mother before her, she cooks wthout the benefit of recipes and measuring cups.

But what she does put into ever serving, is a whole lot of heart.

"It's just love and it's about the culture and the whole city it's just a passion for food and spices and seasonings."

Phylis's family started "deanies" in 1965, and she took over after the world's fair in New Orleans 10 years later.

"Believe me, I never thought I would do this is my wildest dreams. I used to look at my mom and say there's no way."

"I'm so passionate about the cooking I love it, I love it it's all I know."

And her seafood and andouille sausage gumbo is what she knows best.   For her hundreds of customers everyday, it's more than just a tasty meal, it's the ultimate in southern comfort food. A point that was driven home after hurricane Katrina ravaged this city.

"Coming back after Katrina just to be able to cook, when we opened for lunch which was a month after Katrina the line was literally to the interstate just to get in."

"People would cry to get hot sausage or to get shrimp poh boy because and the bread because just with that, you knew you were home."

Although many of those old regulars no longer call New Orleans home, Phylis is as busy as server. Serving up 400 hot meals a day.   Or on this day ... 401.

"Okay it's what do we have here on the menu? Seafood stuffed pepper, fried catfish, seafood lasagna, and the gumbo. (our gumbo) well Bon 'Apetit. Mmmm, that's good."