If you do any type of search on who was famous for their red beans and rice, one of the names you’ll quickly find is Buster Holmes. Holmes has been mentioned a lot in previous interviews as having the best and most missed beans.
Below is the most iconic photo of him. He’s standing in front of the door to his famous restaurant in the late 1960s. This image was used as the cover photograph for the 1st and 2nd editions of his famous cookbook, Buster Holmes Handmade Cookin’ by Pelican Press.
This famous photograph was taken by Philip Denman after he ate at the restaurant one afternoon. Denman carried his camera with him wherever he went and took a variety of pictures of different restaurant and shop owners as he walked the French Quarter and recorded what life was like in the late-60s and early-70s.
Denman isn’t only known for his iconic photograph of Holmes. He also has photographs in the Lost Restaurants of New Orleans book by Peggy Scott Laborde and Tom Fitzmorris. Photographs at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), Louisiana Photographers Salon, Ochsner Medical Center, and various other venues.
He didn’t begin his career as a photographer. Denman graduated from Southern Louisiana University with a degree in Experimental Psychology. He published two journal articles with Nobel Laureate Dr. Andrew Schally in 1971 and 1972 while working at the LSU Medical School Department of Psychiatry.
In 1978, and until 1986, Denman worked for NASA. He was an engineer at the Michoud Assembly Facility where he worked on testing the materials in the Quality Evaluation Laboratory. In this role, he was a part of the team in the Space Shuttle External Tank department that handled quality and product assurance. During his time there he helped build the Columbia shuttle.
Through all of the various jobs Denman has had, including a stint as a probation officer before joining NASA, he was always a photographer at heart.
In 1978, he began to document the Laurel Valley Plantation in Thibodaux. He photographed more than 100 buildings that dated back to the 1830s. In 2005, he returned to photograph the conditions of the plantation. In 2017, when he returned, there were less than 60 remaining structures.
He returned to Laurel Valley Plantation in the spring of 2022 to document more of the remaining buildings before they are destroyed and hopes to publish the photographs in an upcoming book.
Who makes the best red beans and rice?
Buster’s was the best. He would feed you all the beans you wanted and a red drink for $1.25.
Also, Camellia Grill in New Orleans on Carrolton Ave. They’ve been around a long time and treat everyone special.
When did you learn to make red beans and rice?
From a girlfriend in High School.
What do red beans and rice mean to you?
Are there any special memories that are brought up when you think back on it?
Do you only eat red beans and rice on a Monday?
No, whenever I want beans and rice.
What’s your process for cooking a pot of red beans?
I cook for convenience only. It’s the Big Easy Brand. It’s ok but not homemade.
What do you serve with your red beans and rice?
French Bread, Tabasco, and hot pork sausage.
I have to send out a very special thanks to Mr. Denman for sending me a signed copy of the Buster Holmes photograph. This will look great on the wall and will be an amazing conversation piece.
To see more of Philip Denman’s photography, you can find them at the Tulane University online exhibits website.
THANK YOU FOR READING!
If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to the Red Beans & Eric Newsletter so you don’t miss a recipe, interview, or review. By signing up, I’ll send you a free e-cookbook that includes some of the most popular recipes from the website.
You can always stay in touch with me by leaving a comment in the section below, clicking here, or messaging me on any of the social media sites that I am on.
Thank you for stopping by!
KEEP THE RED BEANS COOKIN’!
Eric Olsson is the food blogger of RedBeansAndEric.com. He publishes new recipes and interviews weekly. He has developed recipes and written articles for the famous Camellia brand in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been mentioned in Louisiana Cookin‘ magazine and has had recipes featured in Taste of Home magazine – with his Creole Turkey recipe being runner up in their annual Thanksgiving recipe contest. He lives outside of Detroit, Michigan, with his wife and four children.