Gumbo reborn: A welcome revolution in New Orleans
Though gumbo has been central to the culinary life of New Orleans for generations, “this is an extraordinary time for the city’s signature dish,” said Brett Anderson in The New York Times. In the 13 years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city and remade the region’s population, the spicy half-soup, half-stew is no longer ubiquitous on menus, which has allowed innovators to show how versatile it can be.
Saffron Nola Indian-born chef Arvinder Vilkhu began developing his curried gumbo soon after tasting gumbo for the first time in 1984. “Bright with ginger, turmeric, and cilantro,” the dish finally made its debut in 2017, when he opened his own place and earned a nomination for a James Beard Award. The cilantro, black pepper, and scallions hit the bowl first before the shrimp and crabmeat curry is heaped on top. 4128 Magazine St., (504) 323-2626
Maypop Chef Michael Gulotta is a New Orleans native, but the gumbo his customers have gone mad for looks to other cultures for inspiration. It’s seasoned with lime leaf, fermented black beans, and black cardamom, paying tribute to the city’s many Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants. 611 O’Keefe Ave., (504) 518-6345
Cochon Other chefs often give Donald Link credit for inspiring them to experiment with gumbo. The version served at Cochon and his other NOLA restaurants departs from tradition by incorporating pork, black-eyed peas, and collard greens. Sometimes it’s even served with potato salad instead of rice. 930 Tchoupitoulas St., (504) 588-2123