Hailed “the king of red beans and rice,” Buster Holmes (1905-1994) fed the masses at his French Quarter restaurant for fifty years. The restaurant’s authentic and famously inexpensive Creole cuisine drew crowds of local musicians, including Louis Armstrong, but once its reputation grew, customers traveled far and wide to get a taste of Holmes’ authentic, soulful dishes.
Holmes entered the restaurant business in the 1950s, and throughout the following decades, the quality of his food served as a subject everyone could agree on, regardless of any social turbulence that plagued the community. With an exterior repellent to tourists, the restaurant catered primarily to locals until a reporter for the New Yorker sampled his staple dish, red beans and rice, and published a review of the restaurant.
After his fame expanded beyond New Orleans, Holmes cooked for Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson in the White House and followed the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s tour, cooking up hearty servings at each stop. Regardless of where his passion for cooking took him, Holmes emphasized the quality of every meal and traveled with his own stock of ingredients obtained in New Orleans.
After sharing his cuisine and recipes with the nation, Holmes died, appropriately, on a Monday in 1994.