Susan Spicer, New Orleans Chef, Sticks It to British Petroleum


Famed New Orleans chef and cookbook author Susan Spicer has filed a class-action lawsuit against British Petroleum, Halliburton, and Transocean Ltd. Entered in New Orleans Federal Court, the suit asks for both compensatory and punitive damages — as yet unspecified — for the harm that has resulted and will result due to the oil spill at BP’s Deepwater Horizon undersea well, which occurred on April 20.

As quoted by the New Orleans Times-Picayune on its blog, the suit says “[t]he massive oil slick created by the continuing discharge of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico has caused or will cause injuries and damages to the Class to the extent that the seafood industry will be closed and the sustainable natural resource of the fishery will be greatly harmed and/or destroyed. Simply put, the oil slick and continuing discharge of crude oil is an ecological and economic disaster for Plaintiff.”

Spicer is chef at Bayona in New Orleans, which has been open since 1990 and is listed among the top five restaurants in the city in the Zagat Survey. She has worked in New Orleans kitchens for over 30 years. A check of Bayona’s menu indicates the following seafood dishes:

Grilled Ahi Tuna, Pineapple Sambal, Crispy Noodle Salad
Seared Sea Scallops, Mirliton Slaw on White Corn Tostada, Avocado, Chipotle
Pan Roasted Flounder with Smoked Tomato Butter, Dirty Rice, and Smothered Greens
Grilled Shrimp With Black Bean Cake and Coriander Sauce
Oyster and Italian Sausage Gratin With Spinach, Fennel and Parmesan Breadcrumbs
Sauteed Pacific Salmon With Choucroute and Gewurtztraminer Sauce

With the exception of the shrimp, oysters, and flounder, the other fish are probably not from local New Orleans waters (where gag, black and red grouper, amberjack, spotted seatrout, flounder, and coastal shark are common catches); in fact, seafood forms a small percentage of Bayona’s entire bill of fare, which includes North African and other Mediterranean influences. Presumably, her lawsuit is also based on the ruination of the tourist industry, which probably accounts for a major portion of her bottom line at the restaurant.

Yet according to a quotation attributed to Spicer’s attorney Serena Pollack (!) in Reuters: “Much of plaintiff’s business is based on the unique quality of Louisiana seafood, as well as the chain of delivery of that resource from the initial harvester (be it fisherman, oyster grower or shrimper). Because this chain of delivery cannot be maintained, plaintiff’s business has been, and continues to be, materially damaged.”