Inside Staff Meal at Stella!: Healthy for Sale
1032 Chartres Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
Staff Meal Details
Chef Anthony Gray weighs in.
Staff meal food costs:
Every once in a while we order some random chicken, but most of it comes from fish, veal, or other meat by-products. We are taking by-product and turning it into something.
Size of staff meal:
Time of staff meal:
Worst staff meal:
Cabbage water and bread.
Favorite staff meal ever:
Pasta in New Jersey, good lasagna, fried chicken, creamed corn, coleslaw.
When Executive Sous Chef Anthony Gray arrived at Stella! one year ago, the French Quarter staple was spending good money on carb-heavy meals that barely got the staff through their first hour of service: loaded hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and greasy burgers. Chef-owner and 2003 New Orleans Rising Star Scott Boswell was working on his own diet evolution around the same time and decided help his team turn the focus of Stella!'s staff meal around (and save the restaurant money) by using prep and scraps to create wholesome options—complete with veg, protein, and starch—that could get his crew through a full shift. “Healthy has a bad connotation, but [the staff needed to eat] the right combination,” says Boswell. “I noticed how things reacted in my body, and kept it running. I wanted to reprogram what we ate."
Veering away from chili cheese dogs, Gray now regularly turns beef scraps into stroganoff or this tangy curry dish; fish trim becomes ramen or tacos; and red beans and rice is a regular Monday feature. “When we opened in 2001, we were doing it the hard way. We all dreaded that hot dog night,” says Boswell. “Now we are doing it the right way.”
And Stella! is just a guinea pig for what could be healthier staff meals for cooks throughout New Orleans. With the restaurant group’s new commercial kitchen (a space that will let Boswell expand into private dining and catering) there’s even talk of packaging these healthier staff meals into sous vide-ready containers, the ideal solution for restaurants that don’t have the time (or concern) to create well-rounded staff meals. And as far as costs go, this one makes sense, because eating better is better for the entire team, explains Gray. “Now we all have more energy for service.”