Pete Vazquez is the chef/owner of The Appetite Repair Shop (400 Vallette St., 504-602-9990), a takeout-only spot in Algiers Point offering globally inspired dishes. Vasquez spoke with Gambit about the road from pop-up to brick and mortar restaurant.
How was the transition from running your pop-up, Hush Supper Club, to opening Appetite Repair Shop?
Vazquez: It was rocky. When I was running Hush [Supper Club] outside of Stein's (Market & Deli), it really was just a once-a-week pop-up selling food out of the back of my truck, so eventually things started to get a little flat. It was hard to produce that much food every week without having a commercial kitchen. People wouldn't show up after they had ordered [to pick up] and it was especially bad during football season on Sundays.
I knew the Bubby's space — (which) I'm in now — was here and that it was rarely open, so probably not going to last. When the spot became available, it was really serendipitous. I was almost broke and actually thinking about living in my truck.
Is dining culture in Algiers Point changing?
V: I've lived in Algiers Point for 15 years, so I've really seen the demographics of the neighborhood shift. There are still a lot of people who want a big plate of cheap food all across New Orleans, and here in Algiers Point it's no different, but I think the city is slowly changing on that front. I'm happy for this neighborhood, because I know people were dying for different kinds of food. There are only a couple of spots, and then some pretty good coffee shops that sell pastries and lunches, but that's been it — no ethnic food until now.
What are some of the most popular dishes?
V: I always have some standby, prepackaged things, with specials that change every day. There's always a gazpacho. The menu has a lot of vegan and vegetarian dishes on there, but some of the more popular things are always the curries, pates and terrines. The Danish beet salad — which I hate making, because I hate chopping beets — and anything with Brussels sprouts always sell fast. The salted caramel tiramisu always sells out; I open at 4 p.m., and it's gone by 5 p.m.