Tom Fitzmorris is the publisher of The New Orleans Menu. He began his food-writing career with a weekly restaurant review column in 1972, while still in college. That column has continued without a break to the present day, making it the longest-running weekly restaurant review column by a single author in America. Since 1980 it has been published in print in the New Orleans CityBusiness newspaper. The New Orleans Menu began in print in 1977, and went online in 1996. In the course of researching his print and radio content, he’s dined in every restaurant in New Orleans worth talking about, and interviewed every restaurateur worth knowing.
In addition to his writing, Tom has long been a voice on New Orleans radio. He began daily restaurant reviews and recipes on WGSO 1280 AM in 1975. That evolved by 1988 into a three-hour daily, live radio talk show devoted exclusively to food and drink. “The Food Show With Tom Fitzmorris” is heard from noon until three p.m. weekday afternoons on WWWL 1350 AM, and Saturdays on WWL 870 AM Radio.
In 1993 the radio show gave birth to the New Orleans Eat Club. That’s an open group of listeners and readers who join Tom for weekly wine dinners in restaurants around town. They also travel to wherever the food is, around the world. Several times a year, he chefs special dinners for the high bidders at charity auctions.
After writing several cookbooks in conjunction with New Orleans chefs, he published his first book of his own recipes in April 2006. Tom Fitzmorris’s New Orleans Food (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2006, second edition 2010) contains what to his mind are the 250 best Creole and Cajun recipes from his columns and radio show over the years. It did well enough to give birth to a second edition in 2010.
Tom’s latest book is Hungry Town: A Culinary History Of New Orleans, The City Where Food Is Almost Everything. (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2010.) It’s a personal history of the last thirty years of culinary evolution in New Orleans, and the story of how the dining community came back from Hurricane Katrina to become even more robust than it was before. The next year, he co-authored The Lost Restaurants Of New Orleans (Pelican Publishing, 2011) with Peggy Scott Laborde. It’s a recollection of 122 memorable restaurants from the dining past, with many artifacts from the eateries.
Born on Mardi Gras (1951), delivered by jazz guitarist and obstetrician Edmond “Doc” Souchon, and never absent from New Orleans longer than the six weeks after Hurricane Katrina, Tom calls himself “a walking New Orleans cliche.” After attending Jesuit and Archbishop Rummel High Schools, he graduated from the University of New Orleans with a bachelor’s degree in Drama and Communications in 1974. He is married to fellow broadcaster Mary Ann Connell Fitzmorris. Their son Jude Tucker is a movie producer in Los Angeles. Their daughter Mary Leigh is an artist specializing in sculpture and graphics. She’s also a freelance pastry chef. Tom and “The Marys” (as he calls them in his daily Dining Diary) live and cook in the countryside north of New Orleans. Meaty bolete mushrooms grow wild there. Tom sings bass and tenor in a number of choruses. He is also enamored of long-distance train travel.