Ti Martin, co-proprietor of New Orleans' Commander's Palace.

 

Commanding a Table: Ti Martin

by Tess Weaver Strokes | Aspen magazine | July 7, 2017

It’s been a couple of weeks since the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, but a few of us lucky enough to dine with New Orleans restaurateur and author Ti Martin can still taste the white Burgundy and feel the welcoming, fun spirit of NOLA that she embodies. The chic but unassuming Martin inherited sharp business sense and a finely tuned palate from her mother, famed New Orleans matriarch Ella Brennan, 91. As co-proprietor of the city’s most influential restaurant—Commander's Palace—Martin helps steer her family’s restaurant dynasty, which includes New Orleans’ Café Adelaide, the Swizzle Stick Bar and SoBou, and Brennan’s in Houston. Over lunch at Element 47 during Food & Wine, we learned more about Martin’s recent projects, a memoir she penned about Brennan, (Martin previously co-authored three books including the James Beard Foundation-nominated Commander’s Kitchen) and the feature-length documentary Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table, which is now available on Netflix.

 

Why do you attend Aspen Food & Wine? 
My crazy mom and aunt bought a place in Aspen 25 years ago. Lucky me! Seriously, I think it is one of the best events to get to interact with my peers in a casual situation. I run into old friends like Drew Nieporent or Belinda Chang on the street. I am what we call a "grape nut" so I do like attending the wine seminars that have enough different classes—“Hungarian wine anyone?"

What are your favorite highlights from over the years?
A couple years ago, we decided to throw a pool party at our place, and at the last minute my fabulous cousin Lally hired the balloon man off the street to attend. Oh my, picture everyone from chef Tory McPhail to Danny Meyer wearing crazy balloon hats. Another favorite is our Friday lunch tradition with our dear dear friends Sissy Biggers and Mary Wagstaff. The white Burgundy is always flowing. We do love a picnic at the Maroon Bells. And the Rio Grande biking trail is glorious.

How does the restaurant scene in Aspen compare to home?
The restaurant scene is ever changing and has gotten so much more interesting over the years. We love the comfort of Wild Fig and the eggplant dish at Bosq.

What are you most excited about professionally right now?
Our team. Our focus on constantly evolving food and real hospitality is really clicking. Change, evolve, change some more. If it ain't broke, fix it anyway.

What would you like people to know about the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute? NOCHI has been my passion project for four years and, God willing, it will open in 2018. I think it will be a bright spot both in the culinary world and for New Orleanians for a long, long time. Students will be able to earn certificates designed to deliver a competitive advantage in the workforce at NOCHI's state-of-the-art facilities. Professionals will be able to advance their careers through continuing education programs and certifications through individual enrollment or through custom contractual training for corporate clients. Culinary enthusiasts will be able to take classes designed to educate and entertain locals and tourists who crave a unique taste of New Orleans.