Showing posts with label Storyteller. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Storyteller. Show all posts

It All Started With a Coconut Pie....

It All Started With a Coconut Pie



It all started with a Coconut Pie. I was back “Home” in Baton Rouge visiting my family for Thanksgiving and probably in one of the darkest times of my life. My business as a meeting and event producer in Los Angeles had shriveled up with the economy and was a far cry from the corporate meeting planner salary I had been used to. When I was laid off two years earlier, I had high hopes of opening my own company, Superstar Events-LA, and taking the industry by storm. At the same time, corporate America stopped producing high end meetings and events and it didn’t’ look like it was coming back anytime soon!

I wasn’t grateful for much this particular Thanksgiving. I was in the “depths of despair” as I like to say since I am a southern belle-drama queen! I had arrived the week before Thanksgiving and cried every day to my Mom as I tried to figure out my next step professionally and personally. My husband, Jimmy McDonald, and I weren’t getting along and, of course, it never dawned on me that I was probably blaming him for my misery. He told me that my happiness shouldn’t come from my job and that I should try being a human being instead of a human doing. Great! I need you to be philosophical when I’m fricken ready to put my head in the oven! Thanks, Jimmy! Let’s just say, it was the lowest time in my life and I remember praying for God to please show me the way as my plan was definitely not working.

The day after Thanksgiving, my friend, Lisa, came down from Shreveport to visit me in Baton Rouge and when I asked her how her Thanksgiving was, she rolled her eyes and told me her “Coconut Pie and a Bottle of Red Wine” story. She was so depressed that she was going to spend Thanksgiving alone without her family and friends because she was in Shreveport working on a film. So the night before Thanksgiving, she left work and went to Strawn's Eat Shop to buy a coconut pie, went back to her corporate apartment, cooked herself dinner and drank a whole bottle of red wine. Then in her drunken depression, she ate the entire pie that she was supposed to bring to her Thanksgiving dinner at her boss’ house the next day. She’s a smart ass New Jersey girl and when she told me her story, I laughed until I almost cried. Throughout the weekend, I asked her to tell my Mom, family and friends her pie story. It continued to get funnier and they all laughed hysterically. I said to Lisa, “This is like one of those monologue shows, but with food stories and everyone has a food story!" I stayed up most of the night in my hotel room in the French Quarter thinking of the idea of people coming together to share their stories about the Universal language, FOOD, and how our lives revolve around it. I was so excited, I barely slept.



  
The next day Lisa and I headed over to Café Du Monde in the French Quarter for their famous beignets (fried donuts with powdered sugar on top) and Café Au Lait! While enjoying the deliciousness of the morning, I told her about my idea to produce a show of food stories. Since it is about food you have to eat and drink, it’s really an “event” held at a restaurant. It would be a celebration of how food is so important in our lives!



I now had my own event and I started to get excited, inspired and jazzed and felt I was coming alive again! What would I call it? And then I remembered that when Jimmy and I lived in New Orleans 12 years before, I had coined the phrase “Meanwhile, Back At Café Du Monde….” on one of our many visits there. I would pick up my coffee cup and toast my friends while saying it. We would even clink our coffee cups on the … (dot, dot, dot) while laughing. I also remember saying, “That is a great name for a book, a play, a film or the story of my life!” Who knew!

Back in Baton Rouge later that evening, I told my parents and sisters my idea. They loved it and gave me ideas for local TV Anchors, Chefs, Restaurant Owners, Business Owners and foodies. I now had a “Wish List” of potential headliners to invite to share their personal food stories.

My next step would be to call Café Du Monde to get permission to use their name. I was terrified to pick up the phone – what if they said, “NO”? I procrastinated for several days and then just did it. I spoke to Burt Benrud, Vice President of Café Du Monde, and told him the “working title” and said to him, “Meanwhile, Back at Starbucks… just doesn’t have the same ring!” He laughed and said to send him an outline of the show. OMG – I had to write an outline – it was becoming more real. The fear was overwhelming. Can I really do this? I typed up the Vision of the Show and emailed the next day. Within 15 minutes I received an email granting me permission to use their name.

The first show of “Meanwhile, Back At Café Du Monde…” was produced six months later on May 16, 2010, at The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana, and the rest is history.

The Myrtles Plantation

I like to say the beignet gets sweeter and bigger all the time. 32 shows in just over a year in Louisiana, California and Mississippi with over 230 people from all walks of life sharing their food stories and this Fall we will have a coffee table book being launched from Pelican Publishing with the stories pictures and recipes!


People love the shows, but even more, they love the story of how it all began! My hopes for the “Meanwhile, Back At Café Du Monde…” blog will be to share my sweet journey. I believe I was divinely inspired and chose to listen to the idea that the creative Spirit was whispering in my ear. It hasn’t been easy. Lots of ups and downs, and I’ve had to find the courage to overcome all my fears and, believe me, there have been many of them! Also, there have been many lessons which I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I have found my talents, my strengths, my weaknesses, my heart, my soul, my light, my Sunshine! I am so blessed. Miraculously, because I am now happy with myself, my relationship with Jimmy, completely turned around and we are happier than ever! I couldn’t have done this without him, my family and my friends! So the journey that began with my Muse - Lisa, and her funny Coconut Pie Story continues, as I learn to take life one beignet at a time….



My next blog will be about how I put the premiere groundbreaking shows together so join me again soon!

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