As the owner of two extremely popular restaurants in Gulf Shores and Destin, Lucy Buffett calls herself a “reluctant entrepreneur.” With a third to open in Myrtle Beach in 2018, and a side gig as a cookbook author, believe it or not, being a businesswoman was never her intention.
“I always just thought of myself as a good cook who likes to entertain friends and family over meals,” says Buffett.
Her previous cookbook, Gumbo Love, features signature restaurant recipes, but as is the case with this new offering, it’s much more than just a cookbook. Lucy brings you into her life.
“I became a cook because I loved it and I loved entertaining,” Buffett said. “There is nothing more fun than a dining table with interesting, creative friends and family. That is when the conversation becomes riotously ‘Faulknerian’ and the hijinks become stranger than fiction, at least with my crazy family and friends. I knew if I was going to go to the trouble of writing a cookbook, I was going to add creative narrative to make it more personal.”
Buffett credits her parents with giving her and her siblings their creative streaks and strong work ethics. Older sister Laurie (who Lucy says was always the “star of our family”) runs a 2,000-acre horse ranch in Montana with her husband. And brother Jimmy is, well, Jimmy Buffett.
“Our parents worked at the local shipyard for more than thirty years. They worked hard and they played hard: quintessential coastal Southerners devoted to family with an ever-present theme of family gatherings that revolved around food. I’m the kid in the family who picked up that baton and ran with it!”
Buffett’s inspirations include her mom, “Peets,” and both of her grandmothers. “The gumbos I serve today are based on my Buffett grandmother’s recipe. My mother enjoyed making desserts, and she’s the inspiration for the dessert chapter coming first in Gumbo Love. I tell a story in the book of how after her stroke, she began to order dessert first when she would go out to eat. I like to do things differently too, and putting desserts in the first chapter seemed a fun way to get the reader’s attention and pique their curiosity.”
Gumbo Love features many of Buffett’s favorites— Summer Seafood Gumbo, Spicy Shrimp Ceviche, Honey-Glazed Sticky Ribs, Red Snapper Vera Cruz— along with her favorite stories. Did you hear about the one called Oyster Love, which recalls her visit to New Orleans and Ralph Brennan’s Redfish Grill that reopened just days after Hurricane Katrina had devastated the city?
“I can still taste those wonderful oysters and feel the moment that hope returned to that beloved city,” she says.
Buffett poured lots of “gumbo love” into the book. “I’m inviting the reader into my personal experience of learning how to cook and the life lessons I learned in the process that made me the independent, empowered woman I am today. I hope that by giving the readers a glimpse into my life and a seat at my kitchen table while I cook, I give them an authentic and personal Gulf Coast experience.”