We recently caught up with old friend, Fredo Nogueira, at Cafe Henri. He told us a little about his move back to New Orleans, working with friends, and the things he loves here.
What's your name and where are you from?
Alfredo Nogueira. River Ridge LA
Tell me a little about Chicago and why you moved there. What did you do? What was your favorite thing about it?
I moved to Chicago after Katrina. A friend of mine had a place for me to stay and got me a job right away. It was an amazing experience. I fell into a great community of people, of artists, musicians and cooks (just like New Orleans). I ended up staying for 11 years and tried many times to move back early on but different circumstances kept me there. Then in '08 I started dating my now wife and at the same time my life shifted from being focused on being a musician to being a cook. It happened in a strange but organic way where I catered my friend and band mates wedding for 80 people out of Kristin's apartment. That got me a few other catering gigs, then a popup, then a restaurant.
What were your reasons for moving back to new orleans?
Timing was just perfect. I had just left Analogue and was looking for the next thing. Trying to possibly open something new. At the same time Kirk and Neal (of Cure, etc) told me this position had just opened up. I have always been a huge fan of theirs and had a lot of respect for the work they do. We did a pop up during the James Beard awards in Chicago last year and it was amazing.
What are you doing now?
I am the new Chef of Cafe Henri in the Bywater. I help with the other two locations (Cure and Cane and Table) as well, but most of my time right now is focused on making Cafe Henri the best it can be.
What is the most exciting thing about the current gig?
The opportunity to work with Neal, Nick and Kirk. It's not easy to find such hands on and hard working owners. This is a profession that requires you to spend a lot of time grinding it out, and to work with owners that will walk into any situation and do whatever it takes to make the operation successful is not always easy. It makes you want to work harder which pushes you to do better work.
What have you learned from the kitchen that has made you better at life also?
Organization. Writing things down.
What did you miss the most while you were away?
My family. I have a lot of nieces and nephews here and I have always been close with my family.
What most inspires you most about new orleans, life in new orleans?
Seafood. It is everywhere. All the time.
Photos by Michael Tucker