When Krewe of Red Beans founder Devin De Wulf saw a simple need, providing front line workers with wholesome meals, he jumped into action.
He and his krewe members have launched a new initiative, the Krewe of Second Line. New Orleans Magazine caught up with De Wulf to find out more about it, and to reminisce about Carnival’s better days.
Q: What was the original inspiration behind the Krewe of Red Beans?
My sincere love of beans and rice, plus inspiration from Mardi Gras Indians, Social Aid and Pleasure Club second line parades, plus New Orleans’ amazing costume community.
Q: What does Carnival mean to you?
Carnival to me is the essence of life. It brings us together and unifies us in a shared passion; an expression of our creativity. It’s what makes life more meaningful, and is why so many of us choose to live here.
Q: How long does it take to make your costume?
We begin making our bean-suits in November each year. So we have three or four months of hot-gluing. Though many of our Krewe-members are procrastinators – but that’s okay too.
Q: Why did you create the Feed the Front Lines initiative?
My wife is an ER doctor at UMC, and I know many wonderful people in the restaurant business here in New Orleans. One day my wife told me about a nurse who brought cookies to work, and that it was a morale boost (this was during the first terrible week of COVID). The light-bulb went off – food equals love. We needed to show our hospital workers the love as they risked their lives to help save us.
Q: How many meals were you able to coordinate?
[We provided] 90,000 meals, plus more than 10,000 coffee and cookie orders.
Q: What were some of the responses from people on the front lines?
Lots of thankful messages. Many said it was the best part of their day, and I know from my wife, that her not worrying about food during her 12-hour shift meant she could sleep a little bit extra each day before work. But I think the biggest thing was giving our community a way to show their love. It was a tangible way we could all show our support for the doctors, nurses, techs, security, cleaning staff and all the hospital workers that risked their lives for us.
Q: Tell us about your new initiative, Feed the Second Line.
We are shifting to the long-term recovery now. We need to create more, new jobs. Especially for out of work musicians, culture-creators, tour guides and more. We also need to protect our elders, until there is a vaccine or definitive treatment for COVID-19. We need to protect our musicians, Mardi Gras Indians, baby dolls, second-line clubs. All the people that make our city special and add to our culture. If we lose them, they are irreplaceable. They are treasures. So we want to basically raise money, to hire younger out-of-work musicians and to do the grocery shopping for the elders.
Q: How can people help going forward?
Biggest thing is to donate. It only happens with money. Then, tell your friends. Visit our website, feedthesecondline.org, and our Instagram, @redbeansparade. We will try our very best. And any amount big, small, everything helps. Imagine what our city would be like without our culture or our music. How much would we be willing to donate to help protect that. If we don’t, who will?
Q: What is the restaurant or bar or thing you’ve missed the most during stay at home?
Thalia and Queen Trini Lisa are my current favorites. That and my regular breakfast sandwich at Cake Café.
- Born/raised: 1985, Charleston, SC.
- Education: College of Charleston.
- Favorite poor boy: Fried Oyster.
- Favorite place to eat red beans: Heard Dat Kitchen.
- Favorite Carnival parade (other than your own): Muses.
- Favorite quarantine cocktail: Blood Orange Old Fashioned (from my freezer supply of blood oranges that I purchased from Isabelle Cossart on the West Bank.)
- True confession: I’ve never actually gone fishing and caught a fish before; need to fix that one day.