Morning Rush

April 10, 2013 at 7:09 pm Leave a comment

Louie’s cook and neighborhood hero Frenchie Cox on 25 delicious years

BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

Ask any former or current LSU student about Louie’s on State Street and they’ll tell you about their favorite omelet or style of hash browns.

But along with their favorite dish, they may also have a story about Frenchie Cox, the daytime line cook.

FRENCHIE-R,M

No matter how busy he is, Frenchie somehow manages to greet everyone entering the diner.

If you’re a regular, he will greet you by name, with a joke or an inquiry about work, family, or other tidbits you shared with him in the past.

“The regulars are like family. They’ve been coming here for so long, and now then they bring their family,” Cox said. “I like the close contact because the place is so small.” Standing along the flat top, Cox regularly carries on conversations with nearby tables without raising his voice.

Cox was born in Marksville, La. and raised in Mansura. After graduating from Mansura high school, he thought he would follow his father into law enforcement.

“But then I discovered girls,” Cox said. While he was a student at LSU Alexandria, the Vietnam War started. Cox was drafted and served in the Air Force.

He doesn’t really talk about his time in the service.

“It was just a job I did. I think more people should focus on the ones who didn’t come back,” Cox said. “For me, that’s in the past. That was 40-something years ago.”

After the Air Force, Cox said he traveled around the country, working many odd jobs before settling in Baton Rouge in 1987 to do what came naturally to him – cooking.

“I don’t remember, after getting out of the service, doing anything else. There was one thing I was good at and that was cooking,” Cox said. “What I think I was trying to do was like when an athlete retires – you’re still trying to get that adrenaline rush. And late night Louie’s during the inebriation hour, that’s pretty intense. You got a bunch of testosterone run amok, fueled by alcohol and some false bravado.”

Now he says every morning is a challenge.

“You don’t know who’s going to come in, how busy it’s going to be,” Cox said with a smile, continuing to move along the line.

“I’ve been described as Baton Rouge’s oldest fry cook, but I like to say ‘most experienced fry cook.’”

Regular diners have fond memories of their time with Frenchie.

WRKF host Jim Engster has breakfast at Louie’s almost every morning before his talk show. He has had Frenchie on the show three times and describes him as a remarkable guy.

“He’s talked about his mama, his military service, and being from the same town as Edwin Edwards,” Engster said. He also called Frenchie a hero, which the cook took issue with.

“He just has me on when he needs a rating boost,” Cox said.

Frenchie turns 60 on April 12. He will mark his 25th year at Louie’s the following month, and said he plans to cook as long as he is alive.

“I don’t have any retirement plans. I plan to keel over here in the midst of a Sunday rush and a seafood omelet.”

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