THE ICON: Chef Susan Spicer
THE LEGACY: In the male-dominated world of restaurants, names like Prudhomme and Lagasse tend to come up whenever New Orleans cooking is mentioned. But standing shoulder to shoulder with them for decades has been Susan Spicer, an aptly named stalwart of the local restaurant scene since she started as a kitchen apprentice in 1979. Since then, the co-founder of Bayona in the French Quarter has appeared on TV’s “Top Chef,” inspired a character in the HBO series “Treme” and helped a wounded city heal — through food, of course — after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. She is, in other words, a celebrity chef. But with a reputation for mentoring talent and cooking with local ingredients, she’s proven more drawn to the “chef” part of that description than the “celebrity” part.
THE ARTIST: Jessica Strahan, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “I put my blessing on each dish and every plate before it leaves the kitchen. It’s a good job for a chef who is a control freak — and that’s how I am about my food. I have always been a hands-on chef, and if that’s not the smartest approach to the business, I can live with it.” — Chef Susan Spicer, in a 2015 interview with The Times-Picayune