Poppy Tooker

 
 

Poppy Tooker is a native New Orleanian who has spent her life immersed in the vibrant colors and flavors of her hometown.

Louisiana Eats!, the NPR member affiliated weekly radio show produced and hosted by Poppy Tooker takes listeners into the fields, the waters, the markets and kitchens to hear from the people who maintain the state’s storied food traditions and create new culinary magic inspired by the wealth of Louisiana’s food culture.

Poppy contributes colorful food commentary on WYES, the New Orleans PBS affiliate's weekly arts and entertainment show, Steppin' Out.  She has shared the screen with television celebrities such as Extreme Cuisine’s Jeff Corwin, Foodography’s Mo Rocca and even Bobby Flay could not resist a Throwdown with Poppy.  Her famous seafood gumbo proved unbeatable on the popular Food Network show!

Poppy’s on camera flair has been viewed across the world in documentary projects such as Savouring the World and Taste of New Zealand. The History Channel enlisted her whimsical point of view for the Holiday Foods episode of America Eats.  Poppy was a featured guest on Dining After Hours with Chef Daniel Boulud.  

Sought after as a print journalist, Poppy's articles have been featured in Fine Cooking, Chile Pepper and Louisiana Cookin' magazines.  She has also served as contributing editor for Hallmark magazine.

Poppy's latest book, Louisiana Eats! gives readers an in-depth, behind the scenes look at Louisiana food producers and personalities interviewed on her popular, NPR affiliated radio show of the same name.  Louisiana Eats! features portrait photographs by David Spielman, revealing faces - some familiar and some, previously unknown who are the subject of each chapter.  These compelling images are accompanied by amazing stories previously untold, each in an intimate, personal way.  It examines the place that food and race play on Louisiana's tables; champions the growers and food producers who are preserving endangered indigenous ingredients like Creole cream cheese and mirlitons that are vital elements of our culinary scene. Each chapter is also accompanied by recipes designed to entice readers to enjoy a real taste of Louisiana Eats! 

Author of the Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook, awarded the Eula Mae Dore Tabasco Cookbook Award for historic content, Poppy’s first book was named Cookbook of the Year by New Orleans magazine in 2009.  In the fall of 2012, Madame Begue’s Recipes of Old New Orleans Creole Cookery, first published in 1900, will be reissued by Pelican Publishing Company with a foreword and revised recipes by Poppy Tooker. 

Classically trained by Madeleine Kamman, Poppy was awarded both a chef's and cooking teacher’s diploma from Kamman’s renowned professional course. Her classes center on history and tradition as well as the food science reasons of why and how while remaining eminently entertaining. As Food and Wine magazine described
"She may wear ceramic red beans in her ears and make finger puppets out of crawfish, but her class is certainly no joke. Rather, it compels you to take reams of notes so as not to forget a single nugget of her fascinating culinary wisdom."

A mainstay on the Food Heritage stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Poppy’s engaging teaching style has been showcased at the Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy and Books for Cooks in London as well as in classes and cooking demonstrations across the United States. 

In 1999 Poppy brought the international Slow Food movement to New Orleans by founding the local chapter, one of the first in the US.  She served as an international governor and chair of the US Slow Food Ark and Presidia committee. In 2006 Poppy was the only person ever awarded the Carlo Petrini Slow Food Leadership Award.

With her motto, “Eat It To Save It”, Poppy was instrumental in reviving endangered local foods such as Creole cream cheese and rice calas. Following Hurricane Katrina, Poppy was recognized by the Times Picayune as a "Hero of the Storm”, a story which was nationally told on the Weather Channel.  In 2012, Southern Living magazine named Poppy a “Hero of the New South” for her work in foodways.  The International Association of Cooking Professionals recognized Poppy’s efforts in April 2008, with their first ever, Community Service Award.