Not many people are aware of the many women who inspire, uplift and motivate Loretta. One of her dearest friends, Carmen R. Bazile, spoke with us about how she met Loretta and how their shared love of God has impacted their work.
Q: So what's it like being from your generation and seeing how New Orleans' food is flourishing right now?
C: I'm excited, at 69 years old to see the progress, and to see the growth,especially for people of color that are local.
Q: Who are examples that you really admire right now?
C: Well, Loretta, of course [smiles], Leah Chase is, I'm sure retired by now, Dookey Chase is one...quite a few different ones, a lot of the old-timers.
Q: And you are a retired chef, too?
C: I am a retired professor of culinary arts, I Chefed for about 19 years in the industry, and then to the classroom.
Q: How did you start cooking?
C: I started cooking at 10 years old at home with a family of 6-7 children at the time. I guess it was in my blood, I just didn't know that I knew what I knew at that time. And so, my mother's biological father owned a restaurant. The father Italian, her mother was a woman of color. And apparently she worked for Mr.Tony who had a place in the French Quarter.
Q: How did you meet Loretta?
C: I taught culinary arts at a college, and during that particular time, we had Black History Month and I looked for Black entrepreneurs in the food service area who would do demos for us. She said "Yes, I'll come-but I'm not giving y'all my recipe!"
Q:At the time, what do you think Loretta was like? Do you think her entrepreneurial drive was different a little back then?
C: Yes it was, because I believe the emphasis-she was always putting an emphasis on God, but it became more evident that her reliance was on God, pushing her forward more-to carry on the business. And her faith strengthened. And so did the progression of the business.
Q: How so?
C: Well, anything that you dedicate to God accelerates. If you connect it to him, then he makes it larger than life. So to her, that mindset was not a concept yet. But she found peace-and working as hard as she would-letting him take away the anxiety, and let it catapult her into another realm.
Q: And do you think that that has helped her? She uses it so much now.
C: Definitely. That's the foundation.
Q: Has God inspired your work?
C: Definitely, that's my foundation, it's always been.
Q: Did you grow up in church?
C: I grew up in church, but as I matured in life, I began to grow up, and the level of intimacy with God-so that driving force-before church was there, my parents put that emphasis-so that stability with God let me to have a fellowship. I am an ordained elder. So not only the work, but then through that, I found out that in my bloodline we have pastors. It was always there. The deeper you go with the father, the more he reveals to you about yourself.
Q: So aside what's god, what else has been the basis of your work and what has driven you to pursue it?
C: That's it.
Q: Really, not even family?
C: Family was there, but they weren't as receptive as the Holy Spirit. Because challenges came when I went into food service- "I know she's not going to Delgado to do cooking". But it was a passion of mine and God blessed the passion. As so as i'm transitioning into one point of the food service into another part-God never left me, he's always been there-so the stability was with him. And then I picked up friends and family members along the way.
Q: Now you mentioned you are retired now. How did you know it was time to stop?
C: The Holy Spirit. I retired when I was 52 years old. I did over 30 years total. I had always told God "When it's time for me to stop, just let me go". And so in the summer of 2002 the Lord let me know that I was not to return.
Q: What came after that, for you?
C: Hurricane Katrina.
Q: How did it move you to do whatever you're doing now?
C: I lost everything in the storm. We lost our business, as well as our home, and we transitioned to another place. We didn't know anything about moving to Alabama. That's the direction that the Holy Spirit took us. And so I tell people, I live on a street called Faith, in a town called Harvest, and grapes grow in my backyard, along with a house that I didn't build. The word says "I will give you houses that you didn't build, and I will give you vineyards that you didn't plant".
Q: So you're telling me, if God says it's time to let go of those grapes?
C: I would let it go. He's the boss. Because of the intimacy that I have with him, I'm able to yield that in whatever direction he takes me.
Q: So why do you still visit Loretta's?
C: I really am on a mission. I am an ordained minister, so I frequent back here in New Orleans because women are hurting. It's just helping others to heal. Paying it forward.