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'One Beignet at a Time'

New Book Brings 'Foodie Monologues' of Local Notables From Stage to Page

A heartfelt celebration of local food culture has been transformed from a performance to a compilation of foodie tales in a coffee table book complete with mouth-watering photographs and recipes.


Meanwhile, Back at Cafe du Monde... compiles monologues from a show of the same name. Each story is accompanied by a montage of related photographs shot by Baton Rouge native Troy Kleinpeter and includes an assortment of recipes. Drew Ramsey of Hubig Pies, East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor Kip Holden and trumpeter Jeremy Davenport, are just a few of the local notables who contributed. 

The concept began as a production modeled on The Vagina Monologues. Drawing from her background in Los Angeles’ acting industry and her childhood memories of hearty Southern cooking, Peggy Sweeney-McDonald created a show based on a series of personal anecdotes focused on the topic of food. The show premiered at the Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville in May, 2010, and was an instant hit, as famous Chefs, charismatic actors, restaurant owners and foodies alike took the stage to tell comical tales about food and its power over our emotions.


Meanwhile, Back at Cafe du Monde...
Upcoming appearances:

Oct. 4 Octavia Books, 6 p.m., with Karen Benrud, Drew Ramsey, Liz Williams, Sal Sunseri, Margarita Bergen


Oct. 16 The Irish House Restaurant, 6:00 - 8:00 PM


Oct. 17 Margarita Bergen’s Round Table Luncheon, Royal Sonesta Hotel, noon with monologues by Peggy, Karen Benrud & Margarita Bergen


Oct. 20 Book Signing at Café Du Monde, 1: p.m. with Peggy, Karen Benrud of Cafe Du Monde and Troy Kleinpeter


Nov. 1 Garden District Book Store, 6 p.m., with Peggy, Nell Nolan, Margarita Bergen, Drew Ramsey & Janet Daley


Nov. 16 White Night at Mid-City Market, 6 p.m., with Chef Don Bergeron and Troy Kleinpeter



The idea came to McDonald when a friend described getting drunk the night before Thanksgiving and eating the entire coconut cream pie she was supposed to bring to her boss’ house the following day. At the time she had been upset that she was spending the holiday working rather than in the company of her family but in retrospect it became a hilarious anecdote that encapsulated the familiar urge toward comfort food.


"The more I retold the story, the funnier it got," Sweeney-McDonald said.

A publisher from Pelican Books attended the show’s second run in New Orleans, and asked Peggy if she’d be interested in compiling the monologues into a coffee table book. 


The book release coincides with a double anniversary for Café Du Monde as this year marks 150 years since its’ founding and 70 since Hubert Fernandez gained its ownership. In homage, Fernandez’ granddaughter contributed her food story to the book and will be reading at the café on Oct. 20.


Due to the performance based history of the book. Readings and signings will be framed as theatrical events. Today’s book launch takes place at Octavia at 6pm. Not only will attendees be provided with an opportunity to have their copies signed by multiple authors but food will be served as well, in accordance with the event’s theme.


“The stories are to be acted rather than simply read, that’s why I like to call it Reality Dinner Theater,” McDonald explains.


A part of the book’s intent is to capture the sense of comfort surrounding food and the relief provided by the ritual of familiar eats.


Despite nods to the famous café, it is not a regional book, as Peggy puts it, everyone has their “Café Dumonde; that diner, deli, restaurant or café that they know they can afford, where they know what to expect and when the place will be open, they know what to order and most importantly, they know that the meal will be enjoyable regardless of whatever else is going on in their lives”.


It is this magical relationship to food that Peggy captures with the book.


“No matter where I live or what’s going on in my life I always find myself back there, just taking life one beignet at a time,” she says.



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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


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