Commander’s Palace’s Boss lady
Ti Martin dishes on life in the restaurant business in New Orleans
By Megan Hill | portrait By Romero & Romero
> “The New Orleans Food and Beverage scene is on fire. It’s thrilling. I feel like we’re at one of those cataclysmic phases we may only fully appreciate years down the road. It is especially rewarding for me to see the younger generation of women and African Americans in the lead. And the hospitality industry begin to push and to be entrepreneurial and creative. The risks we take in our industry are very real and it takes guts!”
It’s hard to imagine famed Commander’s Palace co-owner Ti Martin as anything other than a New Orleans food luminary. Martin wasn’t always at the helm of the restaurant her mother, Ella Brennan, helped elevate to legendary status. After earning an MBA in finance and marketing at Tulane, Martin moved to Houston to work in real estate syndication.
“I was enjoying being an ambitious business woman when one day my Aunt Dottie called and said Mom was having open heart surgery the next day,” Martin says. “On the drive home from Texas I realized I wanted to move home and work with the greatest business mentor and best friend anyone could ever have — Ella Brennan.”
Now Martin is working to open the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute (NOCHI), a sort of cooking school on steroids. It will serve culinary and hospitality students looking to enter the workforce, help advance the careers of already-established professionals through continuing education opportunities, and draw in local and visiting foodies for classes. NOCHI is scheduled to open in January 2019.
In the process, she’s working on defining her own legacy — and helping advance the city’s reputation. “I am determined to be known for not just food, but hospitality. As a city, we are very good at it but we need to educate our entire citizenry even more,” Martin says.
“Then the world will come to us to teach them. That will be the greatest gift I could ever give New Orleans.”
What’s your go-to cocktail? In summer, a real daiquiri (not frozen). Just rum, fresh lime juice, sugar. In the winter, a Blood & Sand. [Which is made with blood oranges and Scotch.]
Favorite hobby? I play pickleball every Wednesday morning with my best friend Helen and dear pal Beth at 6:30 a.m. — for 31 years.
Top weekend getaway spot? I love to sneak off to Santa Monica, Califoria for picnics on the beach with my girlfriend.