Interview with New Orleans Rising Star Chef Rebecca Wilcomb of Herbsaint

by Caroline Hatchett
February 2016

Caroline Hatchett: You've been at Herbsaint for years. How do you keep it fresh?
Rebecca Wilcomb:
I’ve been here seven years, and I took over four years ago. We’re driven by regulars; our lunches are busy. We’re more a style of food, a feeling of food. Restaurants are a feeling: if you can’t nail that, you have nothing. People know the servers, the people in the kitchen, Donald [Link]. That’s what keeps us busy, keeps people coming back. We’re not thinking about trends; we're just thinking of things to try. There’s no reinventing the wheel—just finding better sources and better produce. 

CH: How are you involved in the local culinary community?
I do events and dinners and am friendly with other chefs. I know chefs from the Southern Foodways Alliance. I meet lots of like-minded people at the symposium and learn a lot every year. 

CH: What's the biggest challenge facing your restaurant?
Learning how to manage people productively, all the personalities. That’s the most rewarding part of the job. Seeing someone you’ve worked with for two to three years and how far they’ve come. It’s the biggest challenge and reward. 

CH: What's your five year plan?
I don’t see myself leaving this group. I found a group of people who feel like I do about food and restaurants. They’ve become my family down here. I see myself loving this restaurant forever, but there are people behind me in line. I wouldn’t want to hold them back in any way. I have a very strong sous who’s a woman, also a tournade. Eventually I’ll go on and have my own thing.

CH: How many woman are there in your kitchen?
My dish staff and prep staff is female. They’re awesome. It’s half and half.