Bounce artist and reality TV star Big Freedia held a soul food pop-up at Cafe Reconcile in Central City on April 27. She cooked some of her favorite New Orleans dishes as a crew from her Fuse TV show filmed an episode of Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce. Freedia showed students of the job-training program how to prepare stuffed bell peppers, macaroni and cheese, fried catfish, corn bread and bread pudding. Freedia spoke with Gambit about how she got into the kitchen.
Did you cook as a child?
Big Freedia: Yes. I was like 10 — in the kitchen, always helping my mom. I was really young, maybe even a little earlier than that. (She'd) let me mix the cake mix or whatever, and when I got older I started chopping meat and seasoning meat and just went from there.
My mom is a great cook and so is my aunt. My aunt sold supper plates to the whole neighborhood, and I was always in the kitchen helping them. And I was fat! I was always in the kitchen trying to make something to eat, because I was always experimenting with food. I was always trying to take a little pressure off mom because she would have to work late. She did hair, and sometimes she would get out of the shop really late. So I would be there, ready to assist her and help her out.
What inspired you to do a soul food pop-up?
F: My favorite food is soul food. It's a taste of New Orleans — from gumbo to cabbage greens to collard greens and fried chicken. In New Orleans, that's all we eat. There are similarities between music and food culture; it all intertwines together. With music, when you're laying down beats and you put a beat together, it's like a big gumbo.
I have a passion for cooking. Every time I'm off the road, I'm cooking at home. I'm coming out with a cookbook and am just really excited for all the people all over the world to taste a little bit of New Orleans. I do have a vision of putting a restaurant together or maybe even branching out into a food truck. I have tons of ideas.
Doing the pop-up with Cafe Reconcile was very easy. I had a lot of help from them. (I chose them) because I'm from Uptown, a few blocks from there, and it's my neighborhood. I wanted to do something to help people. I'm always trying to give back at the same time. The (Cafe Reconcile) kids (were) super excited for us to be at their establishment. Who knows? Maybe one of them can come work for me one day in my restaurant when that happens.
Do you have a favorite dish?
F: My favorite dish is cabbage and cornbread. When I cook it, I put pickled meat and pickled tips in there. It's just full of meat and smothered and really, really tender. And the cornbread is just like cake. I just love to eat.