Anne Lloyd is a Memphis, Tenn., native who made a name for herself as chef/owner of Mango House, the Caribbean-inspired restaurant she opened Uptown in 2003. She sold Mango House after Hurricane Katrina (it is now Boucherie) and turned her attention to rebuilding her home with her husband Matt and raising their two young children. More recently, Lloyd started Nolavore Catering Company (914-3161; www.nola-vore.net), which specializes in locally sourced catering menus and provides ready-to-eat deli items to Poeyfarre Market (925 Poeyfarre St., 522-5252; www.poeyfarremarket.com). She will conduct a cooking demonstration at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 6.
Lots of chefs struggle to balance restaurant schedules with family life. Did the Katrina experience force the issue for you?
Lloyd: When we came back (after Katrina) to clean out the restaurant, I remember standing in front of a 1,000-pound pile of garbage and holding a 5-month-old baby and thinking, "This just isn't going to work." I used to beat myself up over selling the restaurant, but as I looked around the chef landscape, I just didn't see any other women chefs with young children and no partners in their restaurants. I just couldn't find a reference point for how you do it. (Nolavore) has dovetailed nicely with our family life, because I was able to start it with no financial investment and now that it's evolved to become income-producing, I still have time for my family.
How did you decide to focus your catering on seasonal local foods?
L: It was like a lightning bolt transformation. I read the book
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (by Barbara Kingsolver), and just everything she had to say about the impact of the industrial food business and the difference it made for her family to get away from it — it was all stuff I had a sense of myself. It was the inspiration for starting this catering company.
Does any of this make it easier to get your young kids to eat their vegetables?
L: It's still a challenge, but the thing I'm proud of is that even if they're eating macaroni and cheese it's made with a bechamel and grated sharp cheddar, it's not out of a box. That, they have no problem with. But the vegetables? It depends which ones. — IAN MCNULTY