An expatriate of New Orleans – and professional chef – who has lived in Los Angeles since her childhood, blogs about the journey from New Orleans to Los Angeles back to New Orleans, and points along the way.

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About Pain Perdu’s LA2LA Chef

Gisele-Perez-001 I was born in New Orleans, LA, a fact of which I am extremely proud. My family moved to Los Angeles when I was a child, joining the mass migration from Louisiana in the 1950’s, but made regular visits back to New Orleans throughout my childhood. I continue the pilgrimages as often I can.

Fall of 1969, that turbulent time- left L.A. (I thought for good) and headed to the Bay Area where I attended Mills College in Oakland, CA. Couldn’t wait to get to Berkeley. Surprise for me- there were National Guard with bayonets on every corner, and the streets were filled with dog poop and panhandlers. Back at Mills, we had sit down dinners served by waitresses every night in our fancy dining room (we had to wear dresses for Sunday dinners). I managed to graduate with a B.A. in Design for Theater and Dance, lived in Berkeley for a couple of years after that.


Next, it was on to the “Big Apple” (New York City – here I come!), where I pursued my passion for modern dance and theater – and got the chance to dine in one of the world’s greatest food cities. I spent almost 18 years there. Everyone should live in New York for a while when they are young, but it can start wearing thin when you begin reaching your middle years.

I returned to the San Francisco Bay Area (yippee!) to attend the California Culinary Academy where I specialized in Baking and Pastry Arts, and graduated with honors. Lived in Berkeley- right next door to where I lived all those years earlier.1997-back in L.A.-(geez! who would have thunk) where I opened Small Pleasures Catering, after over 20 years of working in many aspects of food preparation and service in New York City, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area (you know- the starving artist thing). My New Orleans background continually informs my taste profile- not that we cook Creole or Cajun cuisine, or even spicy food at Small Pleasures, but everything we cook has layers of flavor built in. Thanks to my theater background, we being visual excitement to every party Small Pleasures caters. BTW, Small Pleasures is very proud to have been voted into the top 5 of Best Caterers in the My Fox L.A. City Voter Poll for 2009.  My years spent in the Bay Area in the early ’70’s also nurtured my palate. My housemates had a big organic garden in our backyard, and we lived a block and a half from People’s Park, cited in the book, Organics Inc., as one of the seminal events of the organic food movement, for the huge public organic garden planted there. And then, there was all that buzz of a young Cal grad turned chef, who after inviting friends to her apartment for regular dinner parties, opened a restaurant destined to become groundbreaking, Chez Panisse.

I began writing life stories about 10 years ago, and then Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. The first incarnation of this blog was a way of coping with the devastation it wrought on the city of New Orleans

As a result of blogging, I have met wonderful friends, interviewed great chefs, and visited some pretty cool places. I have also had the wonderful opportunity to develop recipes for Jarlsberg Cheese and Lindsay Olives.

In addition to this blog, I write a monthly column (The LA to L.A. Chef) for OKRA Magazine, the online publication of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. I am in the process of writing a memoir with recipes on my LA to L.A. experience.
What’s next- stay tuned…


Oh- you can contact me at :


Me @ Stir IT 28 Resized