Behind the Swinging Doors: The Kitchen at Commander's Palace
Commander’s Palace has been operating in New Orleans since 1880. In the past, Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse have graced the kitchen. Chef Tory McPhail curates a menu of classic Creole cuisine. The bright blue Victorian exterior stands out in the Garden District across from a cemetery. The Garden District is known to have been the stomping grounds of Mark Twain and Jefferson Davis. Emile Commander opened the restaurant to entertain the illustrious families of the neighborhood. Inside you’ll find white tablecloths and elegant chandeliers hanging in the dining rooms.
We stopped by the Commander’s Palace kitchen on a Saturday at 1:39 p.m., during brunch service. The kitchen is on the left side of the entryway, behind the host, where a jackets-preferred policy is enforced. When you enter the kitchen, through doors that read “yes” and “no,” the smell of butter and eggs is overwhelming.
To the right is cold prep, but the bulk of the huge space is burners and grills in the center of the kitchen. Plates are in rows at each station, being topped with grits or benedict. There’s one large egg-poaching machine to accommodate every order, and cartons of heavy cream to stay true to the comfort food vibe. Though Chef McPhail wasn’t in the kitchen while we were there, there was still plenty of action to be seen.