With Kristen foraging our lead, the hunger games commenced. I was loaded up like a pack mule carrying the turkey, wrapped up in a foil tray, a bottle of wine, two glasses and Kristen’s purse, I believe, while she made her way to the dumpsters. Once that nutty, buttery smell hit her, she turned to me, slack-jawed and raised her eyebrows. I gave her a look of I know, right? I was glad she got to really take it in. We both summoned an image of a juicy, brown, buttery turkey,
and the scent motivated us, like predators on the hunt. Kristen rounded the corner so hard she slammed the door against the wall with a bang and sloshed some wine onto the dumpster. I was afraid, we’d blown it with a sloppy entrance, but, the boys weren’t there. The table bore only one lonesome throw-away foil tray, a used vinyl glove turned inside out and a pair of oily tongs. The vat wasn’t bubbling anymore, but it was still warm. We walked around a bit, saying “Hello?” “Hey guys?” and Kristen even belted out a “It suuure smells good out here!” I shirked around behind her to check the level on the propane bottle and the temp on the oil vat, thinking, if need be, I could crank it up and drop the turkey myself. Better to ask forgiveness, right? But there was one door by the table that we had yet to open. I lightly tugged on the handle. It would open, but I could feel some resistance and didn’t believe a hard jerk was in order. Kristen apparently felt otherwise. She came up behind me and belted a “Hey boys!” as she jerked both doors wide open. I scooted back behind one of the doors, tucking both wine glasses behind me like I was stealing from the liquor store.
Kristen stood before the open doors, dumbfounded, as if she were staring at a man on the pot with his pants around his ankles.
She immediately started apologizing, fumbling, stuttering and tucking hair behind her ears. I really thought she’d opened up the door on something slightly obscene. The smaller of the two, Guy Harvey, came out. Eyed us both and asked us “Nice ladies” what we were “in need of?” Kristen struggled and apologized, and just started snickering. I didn’t think the skinny jeans were going to carry the day at that point, so I just blurted out “Turkey.” He looked at me.
“Turkey.” I said it again. I don’t know why. “We would … ” I fumbled. “We were wondering if you would help us … if you’d like to … fry up our turkey.” I let the question linger because I didn’t know what else to do. The wine glasses came from behind my back almost instinctively, slowly as I extended them towards him, a hopeful, pathetic look on my face, and apparently that sealed the deal. “Sure, he said. You ladies bring some more drinks down, and we’ll throw the bird in.” Score one for the skinny jeans. We were getting our turkey fried!
And, here’s the real kicker, Guy Harvey, known locally as Frank Schmancy, turned out to be the head chef at a fairly new restaurant there at The Wharf — The Louisiana Pantry. And, the larger guy (the one who had given up on us during the ‘elevator conversation‘ – again, I can’t blame him), was none other than celebrity chef Tom Wolfe.
Rising Star Chef Tom Wolfe
- Wolfe’s of New Orleans
7224 Pontchartrain Boulevard
New Orleans, LA 70124
Frank told us Tom had studied under Emeril Lagasse and opened up a restaurant in New Orleans — Wolfe’s of New Orleans — before making his way over to The Wharf. He was actually standing there texting John Besh while Frank injected our turkey. John Besh … My total celebrity chef crush. Little did he know. I actually had the privilege of meeting the infamous Besh at a book signing he did in Pensacola for his latest cookbook, Cooking From the Heart, and I, in typical Annie style, acted like a completely smitten, love-sick teenager – a total goober – the entire time.
Got a first edition ready for Besh himself to sign? CHECK!
Rocking the stiletto boots to be sure to get his attention? CHECK.
Ahhh … Annie Besh … Sure has a nice ring to it.
Why, Mr. Besh … you, you … certainly do look stunning in that button-down.
Phillip? … Phillip who?
Oh THAT Phillip … Okay, I guess he can be in the shot.
In all seriousness, though, we do love the book, and have cooked up some seriously delicious dishes from it. But, Besh?!? This guy – Wolfe – had studied under Lagasse, owned a restaurant in New Orleans, and knew Besh personally? This is the guy who was going to be frying up our turkey behind some dumpsters at The Wharf? Ain’t it funny where life takes you some times.
But, Frank dropped her right in, regaled us with tales of learning the great southern dishes (collard greens, grits, etc.) from an old black cook at his grandmother’s restaurant in Mississippi. The key, he said, is to use as much fat as possible. Go figure. Perhaps he did the same with our turkey, but we all agreed it was the best darn turkey we had ever had the privilege of eating. I mean, the thing had brined overnight in our complex trash bag/cooler set-up all night, then Guy Harvey injected it, and he told us it was the last turkey he could fry that day because the oil was getting “too dark.” But, ‘dark’ apparently did the trick. That turkey was incredible.
Roll that fancy footage!
Absolutely delish! Happy Thanksgiving!!