Chef Dee Lavigne learned to cook at the age of seven. After a brief career in accountancy, she decided to ditch the world of spreadsheets and focus on her true passion: food. Now she runs the first African American-owned cooking school New Orleans has seen in over 80 years, whipping up Cajun and Creole classics for hungry travellers.
If you step inside New Orleans’ Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) in the historic Central City, you might catch a whiff of something spicy and delicious coming from the kitchens. This building, once the home of the old Dryades Market, is also the headquarters of Deelightful Roux – New Orleans’ first African American-owned cooking school in over 80 years. The head chef is a lady known simply as ‘Chef Dee’. Full name: Dwynesha Lavigne. “I originally got a job at the museum during COVID,” Dwynesha says. “I enlisted other chefs to come give live demos and introduce their products to help grow their customer base. I started teaching cooking classes – but I was following the museum’s rules, and I found myself thinking, ‘I could change this. I could do it better.’ So one day I asked them if they’d like to make history with me.”