As the unofficial headquarters of good times, New Orleans takes a certain pride in making people feel right at home. For decades now, Commander’s Palace, the stately aqua-and-white palace in the Garden District, has done just that with its Louisiana crawfish gnocchi and bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin. And since July 2012, the minds behind the iconic restaurant have wowed locals and visitors with a winning mix of cuisine and cocktails at the French Quarter’s SoBou (south of Bourbon Street) restaurant. Ti Martin, who oversees the family’s epicurean empire with her cousin Lally Brennan — They’re relatives with the folks behind the now-shuttered Brennan’s creole restaurant — recently took the time to talk with us about everything from running a successful restaurant to enjoying NOLA’s evolving cocktail culture, and being Emeril Lagasse’s drinking buddy.
KDB: Your mother Ella’s influence can be found everywhere in the family’s impressive list of restaurants. What do you see as her main legacy?
Ti Martin: My mother’s main legacy is hard to answer because she has been inspirational on many levels. She is the total restaurateur and I use that word with great respect. She is an entrepreneur, a mentor, someone who pushed for U.S. restaurants to be as good as or better than their European counterparts, and lived to see that happen. She also understood and preached that we are in the hospitality business. We are meant to make people have fun, feel welcomed and never intimidated. She truly believes that we can be a better restaurant every day and pushes us to evolve constantly. Perhaps her greatest talent is that she makes you feel you can be more than you ever thought was possible. She’s a dreamer, but one willing to do the hard work. But as good of a restaurateur as she is, she’s an even better mother.
MORE on Forbes Travel: : Get To Know The First Family Of New Orleans Cuisine