Freret Street focus of documentary exploring how food, new restaurants revitalized New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina _lowres

Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty - High Hat Cafe on Freret Street.

A six-episode documentary series aiming to tell “The Great American Cooking Story” recently stopped in New Orleans to explore how food and new restaurants revitalized parts of the city after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Clara Ritger, an assistant producer at a video production company in Washington, D.C., took a 10-day cross-country trip to tell the stories of chefs and restaurant owners in revitalizing neighborhoods. In the episode on New Orleans, she turns to Freret Street as an example of how new restaurants that opened after Katrina became a driving economic change in the city.

Ritger interviewed Chip Apperson, a Tennessee native who moved to New Orleans after Katrina and opened the High Hat Café on Freret Street.

“Freret Street suffered badly from people moving to the suburbs and inner-city urban decay until Katrina,” Apperson said in the episode. “After Katrina, it just seemed like there were little neighborhoods like this in New Orleans that people started paying more attention to. Five or six years ago, there just seemed to be a groundswell of interest in this neighborhood and we were lucky to get in on it.

She also spoke with Myra Bercy, owner of Freret Street Po-boys & Donuts, who relocated after Katrina and then came back to the city.

“Especially for native New Orleanians, food actually played a big role in people coming back to this city, because some of the foods that we have here, you couldn’t get them other places,” Bercy said. “So we got homesick off of not having the food.”

The full episode is below. If you can’t see it, click here.