Creole tomatoes may be making a comeback

Heirloom variety tomatoes may be making a comeback. Interest from consumers and renowned New Orleans chefs have growers experimenting with these older varieties to see if they can bring a different flavor to the table.

Tomatoes are a key ingredient to some of the most famous New Orleans dishes and not just any tomato, but a Creole tomato.

“A Creole sauce is a standard, one of the mother sauces,” Dickie Brennan, the owner and operator of a family of restaurants in New Orleans said. “I mean, it’s like a hollandaise or a good Marchand de vin.”

Chefs and restauranteurs, like Dickie Brennan, put a premium on flavor and buying locally helps ensure a fresh product. But to do that, farmers must be economically viable.

“You have commodity farmers and boutique farmers. It’s hard to be a boutique farmers, and what we’re trying to do is find ways so these individuals can be sustainable and make living,” Brennan said.

Another trait of heirloom Creole tomatoes is the nostalgia associated with them.

“It’s the memory of the flavor. It’s the memory of being in the field,” said LSU Ag Center’s Kiki Fontenot. “It’s the memory of the sweat equity you put into that crop...That’s what unique about a Creole.”