Articles / Food with Mark Bittman: Toya Boudy

Food with Mark Bittman: Toya Boudy

Published February 22, 2023

A shining star of New Orleans opens up about struggle meals, tourist food in her hometown, and the power of tough love

I really couldn’t be more pleased to tell you that today’s guest on Food with Mark Bittman is chef and total dynamo Toya Boudy

Toya, whose fantastic book, Cooking for the Culture, came out just this month, grew up in an inspiringly happy family, with two wonderful parents who raised their kids with love — and tough love, both. Money was tight, but meals were a big priority, and early on Toya was taught the virtues of home cooking. When her grades were bad and she decided to get a job, her mom said to her, “It’s good you need to work, because at the rate you’re going, you’re going to need to know how to work hard.” Well, she did.  

Toya’s first job was cooking at the corner store, and in New Orleans, the corner stores offer a huge variety of different foods. She was 15. You’ll hear about all of this. That’s how she got her start cooking, and she hasn’t stopped, becoming a bona fide star along the way. She’s appeared on plenty of tv: Guy’s Grocery Games, TLC, Food Network. She was crowned Best Home Cook by Hallmark’s Home & Family Channel, and is an ambassador for the New Orleans Multicultural Tourism Network.

Toya is warm and funny and thoughtful, and Kate and I absolutely loved talking with her — you’ll be able to tell. 

Here’s our weekly plea to review Food on Apple, if you can. Toya’s recipe for Eggs & Rice, which was featured on the podcast, is below. Thanks for listening.

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Eggs & Rice

Any local who grew up in the 1980s and ’90s would agree that Eggs & Rice is a quick kitchen gem. If you didn’t want to eat what was cooked, or if you didn’t feel like making a sandwich, you made Eggs & Rice. My mom always kept a Pyrex dish filled with cooked rice because we ate a lot of meals with rice and then half the job was already done. I loved getting creative as a kid, adding green onions or cut-up pieces of luncheon meat if I was feeling fancy-​schmancy. But the original is my favorite. Even now I’ll make a big pan and it’s something everyone’s always in the mood for, day or night. — Cooking for the Culture