Living in New Orleans in the 90s

My husband and I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1998 and moved to New Orleans to work in the French Quarter. He had a job at Commander’s Palace, and I’d been hired as assistant pastry chef at Bayona. Both of these restaurants topped the lists in the city, and we were over-the-moon excited.

Why did we pick New Orleans? Well, Ben said it would be fun…and we’d probably had some wine. Maybe a bottle or two? As it turns out, he wasn’t serious about such a big move, but I made inquiries, got responses, and off we went.

We lived there for two years before moving back to Western New York to raise a family. What do I remember most? The smell of the French Quarter: hot sidewalk, vomit, dog crap, powdered sugar, onion ring grease, and possibility. A never-ending prep list. Before long Ben joined me at Bayona, working the line during the day, while I worked around the corner in the bakeshop. The pastry chef left, and I begged for her job. I got it, too. What a rush…pastry chef of one of the top 3 restaurants in the French Quarter!

(Sometimes, I want that job back. Because the job I did at 26, when I was so green and full of myself, could not compare to the job I would do now…but all the baking and living I did after we moved back to NY is what would have helped me kick butt harder. Ah, life!)

I have writer friends who LOVE research (I’m looking at you, Jessica Topper), but I like to write what I know. I dig in deep when I have to (I worked at a winery for a day while writing LUSCIOUS), but I often lean toward familiar passions: food, drink, family, love.

Our time in New Orleans inspired MAKE ME, TAKE ME, and I wrote about quite a few real-life experiences (details changed to protect the innocent!) in that book. What I wouldn’t give for the blue cheese burger from Port Of Call, a mango daiquiri from any random French Quarter corner, beignets from Morning Call, the mushroom madeira cream goat toasts from Bayona…another chance to nail that dessert menu. (I DID get my tea leaves read. I did NOT do anything even close to what Quin and Betsy do in that bar…or the elevator…or everywhere else in the French Quarter. Fun fact: this book was so hot, I had to cut sex scenes during edits LOL.)

Here’s the blurb:

He's every fantasy she's ever had... Betsy Mouton knows that easy doesn't last forever. She's working her butt off to launch the Last Call Café so her family can leave the New Orleans bar business—and its heartaches—behind forever. That is, until the hottest one-night-stand of her life shows up next door, twice as uncompromising and two million times hotter, offering to buy the bar and send the Moutons to Easy Street.  Hotelier Quinton James has never forgotten the unbelievably hot night he and Betsy shared. Never forgotten how beautifully she submitted to him, or how he found the only peace he's ever known in her arms. Now that Betsy is the only thing standing in the way of his new hotel, she's the one in control. But there's more at stake than her cafe or laying their past to rest—Quin wants a future. With her. All he has to do is convince sensual command at a time.

Want to experience New Orleans through the eyes of a young chef struggling to make ends meet while falling in lust with the hotelier next door who is trying to ruin her life? Get the eBook for .99 on all platforms today ONLY!

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