Big Easy Comfort Food, Made Easier

November 17, 2015
By: June Naylor, Dallas Morning News

Way back when we first ate John Besh’s food at Artesia in Abita Springs, just north of New Orleans on the far side of Lake Pontchartrain, we were taken by the ease with which he conveys enthusiasm for the cuisine of his native Louisiana. Back then, and later at August restaurant in New Orleans, it was an elegant eating experience. Besh became impassioned about the Big Easy and found a way to expand his restaurant empire in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Twelve restaurants and four cookbooks later, Besh brings us to his present love of food and the place he inhabits like a well-worn, favorite pair of jeans. In Besh Big Easy: 101 Home Cooked New Orleans Recipes ($25, Andrews McMeel Publishing), the chef takes us to his home, describing how much it means to prepare this book from his writing nook where he looks out “at the very bayou that I grew up on, in the deep shadows of live oak trees hung with Spanish moss.” His appreciation for his roots has never been stronger, nor his food simpler.

Besh says that his three earlier books — each a heavy, glossy, hardcover tome — reflected the way he cooked at home then, which was often as a restaurant chef, using hard-to-find ingredients. Besh Big Easy, however, focuses on who he is now and how he cooks today for his family.