«PA Gatekeepers home

«Previous Gatekeeper Gatekeeper Index Next Gatekeeper»

Colette Guste
Antoine's Restaurant
New Orleans, Louisiana

Laissé le Bon Rouleau de Temps!

(Let the Good Times Roll!)

Colette Guste

Colette Guste comes by her interest in historic and cultural preservation naturally. She is the great-great-granddaughter of Antoine Alciatore, the founder of the legendary New Orleans French/Creole restaurant, Antoine's. The 163-year-old icon is located in the heart of the French Quarter, and is believed to be the oldest continuously operated family restaurant in the United States. Colette's father and uncle are fifth-generation proprietors, and Colette is the Public Relations Director.

Colette recalls, "I am a native New Orleanian, born and raised, and a true Southerner. My entire life has revolved around Antoine's and New Orleans. I remember my childhood when I used to go to the parades either standing on the street catching beads or going from balcony to balcony to get a better view. On Sundays (a day Antoine's is closed) while waiting for the parades to arrive, we would play hide-and-go-seek in the dining rooms throughout the restaurant. When watching the parades during the week, we would sneak into the kitchen and the chefs would give us soufflé potatoes and hot fudge sundaes."

"Naturally, being a native of New Orleans, the common topic of discussion is food. We discuss where we ate last night and where we are going to dine next. We live to eat and never rush through a meal. Dining for a native New Orleanian is an experience and a time for conversation. Through my work, I am able to share our passion for good food, and also the cultural history of the area and the restaurant. I like to be thought of as the family archivist and a good will ambassador for New Orleans."

"Being a family member of the Antoine family makes you somewhat of a celebrity," according to Colette. "We have people just 'pop in' to Antoine's such as the time the Secret Service walked through the front door and said they were taking over because President George W. Bush would be dining that night. Our answer, of course, was ..... fine, take over. Another time, our doors were locked but Whoopi Goldberg took a detour through the service alley because she was hungry for Antoine's food. She suddenly appeared in the middle of the kitchen, raised her arms, and said 'Anyone want my photograph?' Since that time, the kitchen has become Whoopi's favorite spot at Antoine's. The stories are endless. Some of our elderly waiters are frequently asked why they don't travel and see the world. They answer simply 'Why travel the world, when the world comes to Antoine's?'"

Antoine's has given the culinary world many famous dishes, including Oysters Rockefeller, the Pommes de terre souffles, and Pompano en Papillote. In addition, the restaurant is a virtual museum with its 15 dining rooms, all named, filled with photographs, antiques, and memorabilia. The "Rex Room" serves and perpetuates one of America's great institutions, Mardi Gras. Created to honor "The Crewe of Rex", its walls are filled with photos of royalty and memorabilia, including crowns and scepters of years past. The "Mystery Room" has an interesting story relating to the prohibition days, and "Hermes" is the room where five American Presidents have dined.

"Although I have had work experience outside Antoine's, including working in public relations for my Uncle Billy, who was Attorney General of Louisiana for 20 years, and in the couture business for Diane von Furstenberg in New York, I am happiest being right here in New Orleans. I feel a great need to share the history of New Orleans and Antoine's with those who take the time to visit. Antoine's was born two years before Mardi Gras. Our histories are joined and I want to do as much as I can to continue that legacy."


© Copyright 2009 Preserve America