Chef Martha Wiggins – Biography/in Blog, CafeStaff, Portraits /by Jack Culotta
Martha Wiggins brings a passion for the culinary craft to all her dishes. Growing up in Washington, D.C., Wiggins started in the industry at local deli Pumpernickels at 15 years old. Here she found her passion for professional cooking. At age 20, she moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts and attended a culinary arts program while also advancing her culinary experience in several fine-dining establishments.
In 2010, Wiggins came to New Orleans and joined the staff of Sylvain as the sous chef to executive chef Alex Harrell. In October 2014, Wiggins took over as executive chef at Sylvain. As executive chef at Sylvain, her modern gastropub fare landed her on The Times-Picayune’s list of Chefs to Watch 2015, Gambit’s 2015 Emerging Chefs list, and her holiday cocktail snacks were featured on the cover of Food & Wine’s December 2015 issue. Her work at Sylvain garnered attention from the James Beard Foundation. In 2017, Wiggins was a semifinalist for the Rising Star Award; in 2018, she was among the semifinalists for Best Chef South.
In early 2018, Wiggins left Sylvain and joined the opening team at The Elysian Bar at the new Hotel Peter & Paul, ranked number five among Bon Appetit’s 10 Best New Restaurants in 2019.
Today, Wiggins joins Café Reconcile as Executive Chef to pursue not only her culinary passion but desire to mentor and train young people and prepare them for the rigor of a competitive hospitality industry.
As Executive Chef, Wiggins will lead the transformation of the Reconcile kitchen, creating the best possible environment for teaching, learning, and personal growth for Reconcile Interns and Alumni. Moreover, she will transform the Café Reconcile culinary experience, reimagine the philosophy behind the café menu and dining experience while preserving its traditional New Orleans fare, and establish Café Reconcile as one of New Orleans’ most recognized eateries.
In concert with Café Reconcile’s commitment to equity and inclusion, Wiggins is dedicated to initiatives that bring attention to and eliminate inequities in the restaurant industry. She aims to affect change and create more equitable work environments that respect and reward the talents and contributions of all workers within a creative, diverse, and dynamic industry.
“At Café Reconcile, we are not only creating a meal and memorable dining experience. We have the ability to change lives by supporting young people who are chasing their dreams,” said Wiggins. “I’m inspired to craft a culture that empowers Interns and Alumni to acquire the skills that will set them on the path to a career. But equally important is the opportunity for Reconcile to set the example, standard, and expectation for a hospitality industry culture for our Interns and Alumni that values and respects all, no matter the position someone holds.”
Reconcile New Orleans transforms the lives of young adults and the community through the ministry of reconciliation.
We do this by encouraging personal growth, providing workforce development and training, promoting entrepreneurship, working with businesses, nonprofits and people of faith to support this transformation, and building strong communities through community economic development.
Featuring soul-filled local dishes and some of the city’s lowest prices, Café Reconcile is a destination lunch spot for a wide cross-section of New Orleanians as well as visitors from all across the country.
The Café is open Tuesday – Friday for lunch from 11:00am – 2:30pm.
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1631 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd,
New Orleans, Louisiana 70113
Phone: (504) 568-1157
Fax: (504) 568-9599
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