His large family (five brothers and sisters), profited from the
fresh vegetables his grandmother and mother grew in their gardens.This
established his commitment to high standards in the products he
uses and prepares.
His neighborhood family friends would come together weekly, giving
Wolfe an opportunity to help his mother prepare traditional New
Orleans dishes. They would work in the kitchen all day in order
to make large enough quantities to feed up to twenty-five people.
Wolfe further credits Henry Schmitt, a family friend, as instrumental
in igniting his passion for exploring different types of food. Schmitt
introduced Wolfe to sausages and fresh seafood after his trips to
the Bayou country.
Wolfe wanted to channel his casual cooking experiences into a professional
career. He began by creating his own catering company, which taught
him the basic principles of owning a business in the food industry,
then by enrolling in Delgado University’s Culinary Arts program.
After fine-tuning his culinary abilities, Wolfe landed a job working
for New Orleans’ esteemed restaurateur family, the Brennans,
at Mr. B’s Bistro in the French Quarter. The menu at Mr. B’s
was comprised of gumbos, jambalaya, barbecued shrimp and other popular
local dishes. Preparing Louisiana foods professionally reinforced
his love for local cuisine.
From Mr. B’s, Chef Wolfe went on to work at one of the hottest
restaurants in the country, Emeril’s. He mastered all positions,
including pastry, saucier and butcher stations, eventually reaching
the position of sous chef. Tom worked alongside Emeril to develop
dishes and menus and was often selected to assist him at nationally
recognized culinary events, such as The Dinner of the Decade and
James Beard Dinners, where he also had the opportunity to cook alongside
greats such as Charlie Trotter and Larry Forgione. At Thanksgiving,
it was Chef Wolfe who appeared on Good Morning America alongside
Emeril to demonstrate the preparation of Cajun Fried Turkey, a traditional
New Orleans holiday dish.
During his tenure at Emeril’s, Tom worked on his days off
building his catering business. He dreamed of opening his own restaurant.
After marrying his high school sweetheart and working at Emeril’s
for eight years, Wolfe and his wife Tracy had saved enough money
and found the perfect location on Lake Pontchartrain. They decided
the time was right to launch Wolfe’s of New Orleans.
In developing the menu at Wolfe’s, Tom wanted to challenge
traditional New Orleans dishes that he had grown up preparing and
enjoying, by applying techniques and styles he had learned while
working at and visiting some of the most cutting edge restaurants
in the country.
Wolfe’s of New Orleans has been growing in popularity. It
has also caught the attention of several national critics, and was
selected by Bon Appetite as the best new formal dining restaurant
in New Orleans.