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Nestled between Mississippi and Texas (the streets in North Park), Louisiana Purchase stands as a beacon of culinary excellence, offering an authentic taste of New Orleans right in the heart of Southern California. Led by the visionary Quinnton Austin, AKA Chef Q, this culinary gem delights diners with a tantalizing array of Creole and Cajun delicacies, each dish bursting with bold flavors and soulful authenticity. But Louisiana Purchase is more than just a restaurant; it’s a manifestation of Chef Q’s dream to create a culinary empire while fostering a profound sense of community and generosity.

Chef Q’s journey to becoming a renowned chef was shaped by resilience and a deep-rooted passion for cooking that blossomed amidst the chaos of Hurricane Katrina. While pursuing studies in psychology and sociology in his native New Orleans, Chef Q found himself displaced by the devastating hurricane. During this period found himself constantly cooking for others. “I always worked in kitchens, but when I was displaced, I was putting together a lot of plates and people would come to me and say I should be a chef, that I should focus on that. It reformed me, and after I spoke with my mom and dad, I was ready to test the waters.”

His culinary education began at Culinary Institute of New Orleans, where he immersed himself in culinary history and technique. For Chef Q, culinary school was more than just learning knife skills; it was about understanding the cultural and historical significance behind each dish. “If you wanted to make Korean barbecue, you’d have to study it’s history reports and then the school would bring in a master to personally show you techniques and little things.” The lessons learned at the institute instilled in him a profound appreciation for the balance between art and science in cooking, shaping his approach to cuisine and providing the foundation for his success as a chef.

The backbone for his success is a lesson he learned in the kitchen in that “being content is failure” and Chef Q has never ceased to push the boundaries of his culinary creativity. Working in New Orleans kitchens, taught Chef Q a lot about life. “In New Orleans, you can’t be a clipboard chef, you’ll lose respect fast. I’ve seen guys walk off the line because they know the chef can’t cook. When I started running kitchens, I would be the first one to do specials. I would jump into the fire and people started to notice me.” Chef Q’s culinary and leadership skills helped him quickly work up the food chain from Assistant Corporate Chef, Test Kitchen Chef, Sous Chef, Chef De Cuisine to award-winning Executive Chef at some of Louisiana’s top spots to dine.

San Diego received a blessing when Chef Q decided to move out here. “I was one of the youngest executive chefs in New Orleans and that was a great accomplishment, but I wanted to do more. I felt like it would be a good move for me to grow individually.” When Chef Q arrived in San Diego, he was quick to build relationships with local legends like Chefs Brad Wise and Brian Malarkey. Those relationships eventually landed him a spot at a new development on Louisiana Street in North Park, which turned into Louisiana Purchase. It wasn’t all straightforward, as Chef Q had to adjust to a new dining scene.

One of the most significant adjustments for Chef Q was navigating the differences in ingredient availability and pricing between the two cities. “Ingredient prices were the biggest thing. Back home you get oysters for maybe 30 cents an oyster; catfish is probably 3.95 a pound. A bowl of gumbo should cost $5, but to make the pricing work here it comes out to like 20 bucks” Despite the challenges posed by higher costs in San Diego, Chef Q remained unwavering in his commitment to preserving the integrity of his dishes. He imports essential ingredients like shrimp, catfish, crayfish, and alligator from New Orleans to ensure that each bite at Louisiana Purchase retained its genuine flavors and stayed true to its roots amidst the Pacific Coast’s culinary landscape.

The other challenge was the diners themselves. “San Diego diners are weird, they’re different. A while back, San Diego wasn’t really a food city, but since then you’ve got good new restaurants like Rare Society, Addison, and Animae popping up all over.” The evolving food scene has led to a rise in foodie culture, which Chef Q attributes to San Diegans being less critical of new food experiences and more willing to explore. “When I was moving here, a chef in LA told me ‘You are moving to North Park? Don’t season your food, Californians aren’t used to seasoning.’ I told him, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to season my food.” Diners are still grateful for Chef Q keeping it authentic to his roots.

Chef Q’s dedication to excellence extends far beyond the confines of his kitchen, as evidenced by his steadfast support for the education and development of black chefs and entrepreneurs in San Diego. Collaborating with esteemed organizations such as Bad Boyz Culinary and Black San Diego, Chef Q actively champions aspiring chefs and entrepreneurs by offering mentorship, resources, and invaluable opportunities for growth. Through initiatives like pop-ups, rollouts, and community events, he creates a platform where talent can shine, and dreams can take flight. Chef Q’s vision goes beyond simply crafting delicious meals; it encompasses empowering individuals to pursue their culinary passions and contribute meaningfully to the vibrant fabric of San Diego’s food scene. “We want people to feel supported, safe and respected”, Chef Q exemplifies the transformative impact that generosity and community-mindedness can have, leaving an indelible mark on both the culinary landscape and the lives of those he touches.

He is grateful for the support his community gives him and is always quick to return that support in kind, “It’s North Park, Southeast [San Diego], Lemon Grove, La Mesa… all that. We help each other. They support me and my passion and it is only right, it’s only fair, that I show up and support them. So whenever Black San Diego, Harvey Foundation, or anyone of these groups need something, we are there ready to help.” Recently Chef Q, and the Louisiana Purchase were part of an effort to provide meals to those affected by the January floods. He and his team didn’t need any motivation or incentive, they knew the community needed help, so they stepped up.

With a steadfast commitment to fostering talent and promoting diversity within the culinary community, he aims to continue expanding opportunities for aspiring chefs and entrepreneurs, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. Through ongoing collaborations with organizations like Bad Boyz Culinary and Black San Diego, Chef Q seeks to create a lasting legacy of empowerment and inclusion, ensuring that the next generation of culinary trailblazers has the support and resources they need to succeed. Looking ahead, Chef Q envisions a future where his impact on the culinary world extends even further. We’ve seen his visions come to life twice now with Louisiana Purchase and Q&A Restaurant and Oyster Bar (Oceanside), but don’t be surprised when news drops of new projects both here and a far. Chef Q and team are cooking up something good!

Chef Q wanted to highlight some of the influential people in his success. A special thank you to the Wiley family, the Harvey Foundation, Michael Brady, Bad Boyz of Culinary, Black San Diego, Chef Kelston, and of course Tanisha!



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