Tommy Centola, the Creole Cajun Chef, has been cooking since he was 8 years old. His first solo attempt was baking chocolate chip cookies. Under the watchful eye of his mom, Mona Centola, Tommy started to expand his culinary knowledge. While in high school, he took a job at the 5-star New Orleans restaurant, LeRuth’s. He was able to watch the running of a professional kitchen and learned about fine dining cooking and presentation from the talented Leruths.
Tommy has spent the rest of his time working at various restaurants. He eventually switched over to the distributor side of the business. Here, he is able to help many restaurants with his experience.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina, changed his life. He and his wife, Peggy, moved from New Orleans to Searcy, Arkansas. As he adjusted to his hometown, he noticed a significant difference in the availability of items that were second nature to him. No longer could he drive a few minutes and buy shrimp fresh out of the water. It took him time to find a local source of seafood, Andouille sausage, Boudin and other New Orleans staples.
Once he found these ingredients, his kitchen was almost like New Orleans. This is when he started to work on his recipes and adapt them to his new surroundings. He put all of his recipes in the book You Can’t Keep New Orleans Out Of The Cook, published in 2011. His recipes have appeared in the Thomas Kinkade Cookbook, Louisiana Cookin’ magazine and Louisiana Kitchen and Culture magazine and website. In 2017, he started writing a cooking column for his hometown newspaper, The Daily Citizen. His second cookbook, Creole and Cajun Comfort Food, is set to be released in 2020 by Ladero Press.
He publishes 2 recipes a week and a previous newspaper column on his blog. He loves to cook every chance he gets and enjoys sharing his knowledge of food. If he can inspire one person to cook New Orleans style, his mission has been accomplished.