About Ms. Linda

Winner of the Food Network's Chopped: Pride of New Orleans contest and featured on Anthony Bourdain's Food Network show No Reservations, Linda Green reputedly has the best Ya-Ka-Mein in the United States and is known throughout New Orleans as the "Yakamein Lady."

For the past twenty years, she has sold her Ya-Ka-Mein along Second Line routes, along with running Ms. Linda's Catering, which specializes in New Orleans Soul Food cuisine for all size events.

Ms. Linda has served up her delicious food at festivals and events such as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Essence Festival and the Crescent City Farmer's Market. These experiences have shaped her as an entrepreneur and brought her notoriety amongst New Orleans' natives and famous entertainers.

Congratulations!

Ms. Linda Wins Chopped
Congratulations Ms. Linda for winning the Food Network's "Chopped: Pride of New Orleans" contest!

Didn't catch the episode? Click here for future airing dates! 

What is Yakamein?

Ya-ka-Mein is a New Orleans dish made from a combination of meat, eggs, green onions and noodles in a spicy, salty broth with an Asian twist by the addition of soy sauce. Black Korean soldiers made Ya-ka-mein in Korea, using the soup to sober up after a fierce day of fighting and drinking. They brought the dish to the states, where it has been a tradition ever since. It was typically served in African-American bars, Second Lines and festivals, referred to as "Old Sober", reflecting its power to alleviate the pain of hangovers.

Linda Green, simply known by many as the “Yaka Mein Lady”, is the most well known parade and festival Ya-ka-mein purveyor.

No Reservations

Tony travels beyond New Orleans and into Cajun Country to find out what sets bayou culture apart. He dines with locals Wendell Pierce and Lolis Elie, partakes in an authentic crawfish boil and ends his trip with a whole-hog roast.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012 19:00

Linda Green wins 'Chopped' episode with four New Orleans chefs

The tears flowed and the cheers exploded in the packed Rendezvous Tavern on Tuesday night as the TV screens on the walls revealed the winner on the newest episode of the Food Network's "Chopped": Miss Linda Green, aka the Ya-Ka-Mein Lady, won $10,000 in competition against three other New Orleans chefs.

Wearing a corsage and a gold chef's coat, Green was surrounded by friends and relatives; her fans; members of her social aid and pleasure club, the Lady Rollers; the entire staff of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art; friends from Jazz Fest, where she is a vendor; and local media.

One of Green's daughters came in from Houston to surprise her mom. Justin Kennedy, the chef and manager of Parkway Bakery and Tavern, another competitor on the same show, showed up at the party immediately after the show ended to congratulate Green and give her big hugs.

And he sent flowers beforehand to the party.

"The experience, and working with Miss Linda, I felt like I was at home," Kennedy said of the experience. "She's what kept me comfortable, cool, and calm. Even though we were in New York, I felt I was at home in New Orleans."

Also competing on the program was chef Richard Bond, who owns and runs the Mardi Gras School of Cooking in Algiers. He was eliminated in the first round because his rice was undercooked. Kennedy fell in the entree round when one of the judge's sandwiches inexplicably lacked the catfish he had fried. In the final round, dessert, young Palace Cafe sous-chef Cody Monfra overprocessed the chicory coffee ice cream he made.

As Green cried tears of joy in real time, the TV screen showed her doing the same thing on the show, and the two female judges, New York chefs Alexandra "Alex" Guarnaschelli and Amanda Freitag, were shown dabbing at their eyes as well. Marc Murphy, another New York chef, was the third judge.

In the crowd was Lanette Williams, who grew up with Green.

"I knew her mother, who used to make her ya-ka-mein at Bear Brothers, at Third Street and Danneel," Williams said.

Even though Green was the ultimate winner, the entire program was a triumph for south Louisiana cooking and culture. Lots of New Orleans ingredients showed up in the mystery baskets: andouille sausage; catfish; powdered chicory coffee and beignet mix, which prompted Monfra to say, "I've never used this before. We always make (beignets) from scratch."

All the chefs explained their signature New Orleans dishes, and they impressed the judges in many ways, from the 20-minute gumbo that Kennedy made in the appetizer round, to the respect that they all showed each other. Monfra repeatedly mentioned that he wanted to win for his grandmother, who taught him to cook.

And several times, Green talked about learning to cook from her late mother and passing her cooking on to her grandchildren.

The favorite thing she made during the competition?

"My favorite was the beignet. But it's not a beignet, it's a blueberry beignet biscuit. Which no one has and I think I'm going to start doing it," she said, before yet another fan grabbed her for a photo.

THE FOOD

Appetizer round: Mystery box ingredients were razor clams, andouille sausage, lime pickles and Cajun potato chips. Everybody got to talk about andouille. Kennedy made gumbo in 20 minutes. Monfra made a south-Louisiana style dressing, using crushed potato chips as the breading ingredient. Green made a saute of andouille and razor clams over vegetables, and won praise for using the whole potato chips.

Bond was chopped for too much wine and undercooked rice in his razor clams Opelousas.

Entree round: Mystery box ingredients were whole catfish, fig preserves, chard and chai tea powder. Kennedy and Green both showed the New Orleans mastery of frying, and both put the chai tea powder in their coating for the catfish. Monfra decided to make a fish stew when he saw the others frying. Kennedy showed quick thinking when he made last-minute onion rings, also with the chai tea coating. Green and Monfra both paired fig preserves with the chard, and Green balanced the sweetness of hers with bold slices of lemon.

Kennedy was chopped because one judge didn't get any catfish in her sandwich.

Dessert round: Mystery box ingredients were gin liqueur, beignet mix, powdered chicory coffee and huckleberries. Both Monfra and Green made beignets. Monfra filled his beignets with mascarpone cheese and had the huckleberries on the side with a shot of bourbon, along with chicory coffee ice cream. Green stirred the liqueur, coffee and berries into the beignet mix, and then she heavily coated the resulting biscuits in powdered sugar "because that's how people in New Orleans like them." She pondered adding strawberry preserves somehow, but chose not to because "I was scared of the clock."

Judge Marc Murphy said he liked the taste of Green's beignet/biscuits but wanted whipped cream or a sauce on the side; Guarnaschelli pointed out that Monfra had two accompaniments to his beignets, but the judges faulted both of them, although they liked the beignet itself.

Monfra was chopped and Green declared the winner.

Additional Info

  • Publication Date: Wednesday, 27 June 2012
  • Author: Judy Walker
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