Video Transcript

00:09 John Besh: The little dream team of cooks that help came. They came back to help me open up and stay afloat, they became my partners in each one of the restaurants. At that point we made a ton of money and we divided amongst everybody. It's almost like the days of Robin Hood, there were no... Nobody was asked any questions, we didn't know we would actually get on if we would make it to the next year.

00:30 Besh: My business partner, Octavio Montilla, I think he might be out here somewhere. Octavio, are you around? No he's hiding from me, he knows what I'm gonna say. He calls this my dabbling with communism, my little experiment. And I decided we would take some of our profits, we'd take all the profits and just distribute among everybody that kept us afloat. I'd still thought, "Well, eventually, I'm still gonna go out of business. Fine dining will never return to New Orleans like I knew it." But that wasn't the case. Instead, there was a spirit that came back to New Orleans, a spirit of resilience and that fed one... One person would come back, another person come back, then the restaurant didn't become the August, which had been just the haven of fine dining, really became the corner stone in the neighborhood where people came to dine in defiance of everything that they had been through. Whether they could afford it or not, they would just come in and defy the storm and defy fate by having a great meal. And that was enough. Soon, even my cooks wanted to continue doing acts of good.

01:37 Besh: So, we started catering for restaurants that were being rebuilt. Willie Mae's Scotch House in Tremaine and Leah Chase's Dooky Chase Restaurant, to be exact. And to see the joy that would come from my cook's eyes, to actually go into the Tremaine that looked like it'd just been hit by a bomb. And to cook for people, whoever happened to be volunteering their time to rebuild a restaurant. So, we started doing that. That got too big. We started inviting them into the restaurant. So, we always had this influx of people, that were coming in from out of town to rebuild. And those were the people that we were inviting in and we were feeding for free. So, we started working with a couple local charities, and this and that. And before you know it, we're really taking... We're spending a lot more than we were actually taking in, but we made up for it somehow, we made ends meet.

Published on: May 13, 2012