NEW ORLEANS - It’s only fitting that the library housing what is said to be the largest collection of cookbooks in the south will feature the prolific work of one of the most popular chefs of this area, WWL-TV’s Frank Davis.
More than 7,500 recipes Frank produced during a 30-year career have been donated by Channel 4 to the Southern Food and Beverage Culinary Library, which opens Wednesday in Central City.
The Frank Davis Recipe Collection is comprised of thousands of recipes the iconic television chef and broadcaster created and demonstrated each week on Channel 4’s Eyewitness Morning News - from paneed pork, gumbo and “smuddered chicken” to trout tacos, oysters over spaghetti and baked redfish on the half shell. The collection also includes recipes from Frank’s annual Franksgiving and Naturally Noel series, produced annually during the holiday season.
Over the years, many of Frank’s recipes were distributed by the station in printed form, on WWLTV.com and also reproduced in his cookbooks for Pelican Publishing. But the donation of physical copies of the recipes to the SOFAB Culinary Library means that they will be preserved for future generations of food lovers, writers and culinary researchers and historians.
“If you ask me if I miss being in the kitchen every Tuesday morning and showing off some of my favorite recipes, the answer would be ‘Yes, indeed!’” Frank said from his home in Texas, where he retired in late 2011. “But I can’t tell you how proud I am that the 30 years I put into developing this body of work is being preserved.”
Frank and his wife Mary Clare added that his health continues to improve, as he undergoes treatment and therapy for a rare medical condition he spoke about in an interview with Eyewitness News medical reporter Meg Farris earlier this year.
“I can’t tell you how much the love and support from all of our friends and fans in south Louisiana has meant to us,” Frank said. “For 30 years, I talked about people and things that were Naturally N’Awlins. Now I’ve been able to experience that firsthand, with the love and support people have shown to us.”
In addition to the Frank Davis Recipe Collection, the SOFAB Culinary Library will also house a Phil Johnson Collection, named for the former WWL-TV news director, editorialist, documentary producer and assistant station manager – who was also a celebrated gourmet cook, food and wine lover. His wife and children donated several of Johnson’s cookbooks, archival menus and food-related correspondence to the library.
The library, an extension of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, will open to the public Wednesday afternoon. Located at 1609 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. in Central City, the new facility will contain over 11,000 volumes of culinary books, food and cocktail menus, pamphlets and other archival material. It is a joint project with the New Orleans Public Library.
Soon to follow will be a new Southern Food and Beverage Museum, being constructed on the site of the old Dryades Market on Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.