Inside Staff Meal at Herbsaint: Southern Traditions

by Katherine Sacks
Will Blunt
February 2012

Biography

Chef Rebecca Wilcomb of Herbsaint - New Orleans, LA

Restaurant

Herbsaint
701 Saint Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 524-4114
www.herbsaint.com

Staff Meal Details

Chef Rebecca Wilcomb weighs in.

Staff meal food costs:
It’s all baked in.

Size of staff meal:
Up to 25 people.

Time of staff meal:
4:30pm

Worst staff meal:
Sometimes people put up frittata and it's butchered and overcooked.

Favorite staff meal ever:
Yaka mein, which is a hangover cure-all. I like anything with noodles and broth.

In the Old South, Monday meant laundry day. And for a savvy housewife, a pot of red beans and rice could stew away for hours (along with a nice hunk of Sunday’s ham tossed in) while the linens were scrubbed on a wash board, wrung tight, and hung out to dry. Modern cooks may forgo old school laundry duties in lieu of the corner laundromat, but the tradition of convenient one-pot cooking hasn’t fallen by the wayside. From country homes to upscale restaurants, red beans and rice is a staple at the start of the week, when service is notoriously slow, but the workloads become packed. We’ve seen kitchen crews chowing down on the Monday meal everywhere from 2003 New Orleans Rising Star Chef Scott Boswell’s French Quarter Stella! to neighboring New Orleans’ locale Herbsaint.

Keeping up Southern traditions for staff meal, the cooks at New Orleans' Herbsaint chow on red beans and rice every Monday Keeping up Southern traditions for staff meal, the cooks at New Orleans' Herbsaint chow on red beans and rice every Monday

Aside from the ease of the fill-it-up-and-forget-it pot, red beans and rice offers that highly desirable combination of amino acids that make up a complete protein, providing all the nutrients and energy needed to get Herbsaint’s staff through another busy night on the line. The low-and-slow cook time makes for a creamy consistency, just the kind of food to “get your mind right and your belly full,” says the restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine Rebecca Wilcomb. While its base may repeat each week (red kidney beans, chilies, and peppers), the garnishes can vary—some Mondays, Wilcomb includes pork belly scraps; on others she tosses in ham hock or bacon.

Contigo staff digs into biscuits and gravy for staff meal Prepping staff meal at Herbsaint in New Orleans

Following that Southern tradition, these cooks can, and do, expect this soul-warming meal, served alongside Louisiana popcorn rice, at the start of the week. Topped with a dollop of horseradish-laced sour cream, it’s a dish that the Herbsaint staff just can’t live without. “We have it every single Monday,” explains Wilcomb. “Otherwise we just wouldn’t feel right.” Although it may seem redundant to grub on the same beans and rice week after week, “people love it,” says Wilcomb. “No one ever complains.”