Over a delicious Cajun Fusion dinner at the newly opened Jimbeaux’s Bar & Grill in the Central Business District, Chef Madi Butler told what might be the very best “How I Spent My Summer” story – ever. For 50 days, Madi is crossing the U.S. by railroad, highlighting the country’s top culinary experiences and promoting public transportation. Dream job, right? We were full of questions. And, despite a busy schedule, Madi took a little time to give us the low-down on the Summer By Rail program before leaving the Crescent City and heading north. (See her full route here.)
Q. Tell us about yourself and your life before you started riding the rails.
A. I’ve always enjoyed travel. To me, the rail is the most interesting way to get around. Before doing this full time, I travelled as a private chef, hospitality consultant and in pursuit of culinary experiences. I have spent a lot of time advocating, organizing and volunteering in support of rights and accessibility, so this opportunity brought the many facets of my interests into a unified goal.
Q. What drew you to this project?
A. The intersections of rail and hospitality culture. I think there’s a lot of merit in highlighting how passenger advocacy and involvement can stoke development within different communities.
Q. What are you hoping to accomplish on your Summer by Rail?
A. I want to generate interest in membership for the Rail Passengers Association as well as the preservation of long-distance routes connecting our many different communities.
Q. Tell us about the route you’re taking and how you chose it. What have you loved so far?
A. The route can be viewed at summerbyrail.com. So far, I’ve loved taking in all the fun, quirky things that make each destination special.
Q. What’s a typical day living on the rails like for you?
A. Honestly there is no one typical day. Each city brings its own challenges and its own dynamics. So, I would say a typical day is being flexible, adaptable and permeable to each manifesting goal.
Q. Tell us about your time in New Orleans.
A. In New Orleans I have stayed at the Catahoula Hotel and visited with the team at Brennan’s Restaurant. I took a day trip over to Biloxi and Ocean Springs Mississippi, and I got to spend some time with my Nana. Overall, it’s been wonderful.