Among the dwindling bookstores worldwide, Kitchen Witch Cookbooks in New Orleans offers a singular collection of rare and used titles, with a special focus on Cajun cuisine, in addition to music, spices, local art, and more.
After almost a decade in New Orleans’ French Quarter, in 2015 Kitchen Witch found a new home home in the heart of the “Bayou Road Triangle” and just around the corner from McHardy’s Chicken & Fixin’. Like its funky and full-of-flair original space, the current shop lures locals with an array of vibrant signage. From painted pink frying pans that together read “OPEN” to a teal and white banner promising “Spices, Art, Music,” the building’s brightly-colored facade radiates its French Quarter roots. Inside, the lemon yellow walls are covered with art and knickknacks, from paintings to dinner plates to beer bottles. From the ceiling, Christmas lights form low-hanging arcs across the room with strips of diaphanous tulle and 1950s aprons to keep them company.
The shop blossoms with the eclectic: cookbooks, new and old, from near and far, and many with handwritten notes between the covers or swooping signatures by authors and chefs. Books such as Gumbo Tales, La Bouche Creole, and Real Cajun are but a few of their special collection exploring the culinary history and offerings of Acadiana (that’s Cajun country). In addition to cookbooks, an array of vinyl records, old-school cookware, and homemade Creole spice blends are available for purchase. Meanwhile, the bookstore and its expansive parking lot often act as a pop-up location and community space for readings, meetings, and, of course, regular feasting.
Philipe LaMancusa, a former chef, is responsible for the collection of some 11,000 books. Prior to opening Kitchen Witch, he landed in New Orleans to work at the well-known Commander’s Palace alongside Paul Prudhomme, a famous chef who also happens to be the author of one of the store’s bestselling cookbooks, Louisiana Kitchen. But Philipe couldn’t resist his attraction to the literary, however, and with nudging from his partner, Debbie Lindsey, they decided to open their own shop, which they did just three months after Hurricane Katrina. In the time since, many locals have visited Kitchen Witch, looking for rare titles lost in the flood and finding in the worn stacks the books that have helped them rebuild their homes.
Update as of September 2019: Kitchen Witch Cookbooks has closed its doors.
Know Before You Go
Kitchen Witch is open 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week. Check their Facebook page for events and to know whether to come hungry.