For all of his career, Lazone Randolph has been at one place where he learned from a master and worked his way through the ranks. In 1965 Randolph arrived as Brennan’s kitchen fresh out of high school and looking for a meaningful career. A native of New Orleans, he learned from classically trained European chef Paul Blange, one of Brennan’s most famous chefs and the inventor of many of Brennan’s signature dishes.
“It was very exciting to train under Chef Blange,” Lazone says. “He stressed consistency in every dish we served. Only the best would please him.”
Chef Lazone has traveled to London to cook for an event at the United States Embassy and as a guest chef at Hotel InterContinental. He has appeared on numerous cooking shows, including Alton Brown’s Food Network show where Brennan’s signature dessert bananas Foster was named “America’s Best Sweet.” He has also appeared on the Food Network’s Rachael Ray and Unwrapped shows. Meanwhile, in Brennan’s kitchen, aspiring chefs are no doubt learning from him.
Maude’s Seafood Okra Gumbo
Named in honor of Maude Brennan, wife of Owen Edward Brennan, the founder of Brennan’s Restaurant, the soup has a special place of honor on Brennan’s menu. The unique trait of the gumbo is that it doesn’t use a roux.
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
4 sprigs fresh parsley, finely chopped
16 ounces (2 cups) tomato sauce
8 ounces (1 cup) canned whole tomatoes, or very ripe, fresh, peeled and mashed whole tomatoes
2 cups water
4 pounds fresh raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 hard-shell crabs, already boiled or raw, broken in half and gills removed
1 1/4 pounds fresh, chopped okra (or 2 packages frozen chopped okra)
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 pound crabmeat, picked over to remove any shell and cartilage
Cooked white rice
Pour the oil into a heavy 6-quart aluminum pot. Add all the chopped vegetables except the okra and simmer over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the tomato sauce and the mashed whole tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes more. Then add the water, shrimp, crabs, okra, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir gently to mix. Cover and cook over low heat until the shrimp and okra are tender. Turn off the heat and leave the gumbo covered in the pot.
When you are ready to serve, turn the heat on low and add the lump crabmeat. Heat just until the gumbo and crabmeat are warm through. Serve over cooked rice. Makes 6 to 8 servings.