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New Orleans: cooking gumbo

New Orleans school of cooking

Chef Kevin stands about 7 feet eleventeen and peppers his lessons with hilarious quips

I love to try local, signature cuisine when I travel (here’s my blog on Memphis BBQ) and New Orleans is no exception.

What do you think of when you think N’Awlins? That’s right, jambalaya, crawfish pie and file gumbo.

So I rocked up (with my husband, dad and brother in tow) to the New Orleans School of Cooking on Royal Street in the French Quarter for a lesson on the above.

I attended a demonstration class. In other words you don’t your hands dirty, you watch, write notes, follow along with on the recipe, laugh at chef Kevin’s jokes and finally taste his results. They also have hands on classes.

The whole shebang takes about 2 hours and at $25 per head is excellent value (you also get beer, iced tea and lemonade).

Here’s how to make gumbo:

New Orleans gumbo

File gumbo!

All cooking in the south starts with the trinity: onions, celery, green pepper. This makes a big batch, 15-20 servings…


Trinity – 4 C chopped onions, 2 C chopped celery, 2 C chopped green peppers.

1 C oil, 1 chicken (cut up), 1.5lbs Andouille (smoked, spicy pork sausage), 1 C flour, 1 Tbsp chopped garlic, 8 C stock, 2 C chopped green (spring) onions, Cooked rice (to serve with it), spicy seasoning (like a meat rub), file (this is a thickener made from ground sassafras leaves. It’s optional).


Season and brown chicken in oil (Kevin recommends lard, bacon drippings), add sausage and saute. Remove both.

Make a roux with equal parts oil and flour to desired colour (Kevin took his right up to a dark caramel brown, stirring constantly. You cannot leave this for even a minute).

Add the trinity. Add garlic and stir continuously.

When veges reach desired tenderness, return chicken and sausage, continuing to stir. Gradually stir in liquid and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for an hour or more.

Season to taste. 10 minutes before serving add sprig onions and serve over rice or with French bread.

New Orleans School of Cooking

Watching the pots on the stove in the New Orleans School of Cooking

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!