“If you say you don’t like seafood, it’s just because you haven’t had the right kind,” declared Chef Tenney Flynn as we sat in the elegant GW Fins dining room for a chat. Tenney told me he enjoys “converting” visitors from the Midwest and other landlocked states into seafood lovers. “I’ve had people say, ‘I don’t like fish, but I like your fish.’”
Chef Tenney grew up outside of Atlanta, moved to New Orleans in the 90s, and has no intention of ever leaving. “My ambition is to be a little old man walking around the French Quarter in his seersucker suit. I want to be a true New Orleans character,” he said.
Tenney is attracted to the city’s distinct history. “So much of our country is homogenized now,” he said. “But New Orleans is different. This is an old city in a young country.”
During our conversation, Chef Tenney had to jump up from the table to answer a call from a fish supplier. When he sat back down, he told me that buying fish was one of the most interesting parts of his day. “I am extremely picky about the quality of our raw product,” he said. “We are lucky that we don’t have to fly in fish. We get them straight from the Gulf and only choose the best.”
Tenney’s culinary creations are inspired by a fusion of classical French training with Asian influences, but his ultimate goal is always to highlight the flavor of the fish. GW Fins prints a new menu every day, so Chef Tenney can build the daily dishes around the quality of the fish. “We buy whole fish and butcher them in house,” he said. “We often reject the ones that don’t meet our standards.”
Visit Chef Tenney at GW Fins at 808 Bienville Street in the French Quarter. Call and make a reservation today at (504) 581-3467.
20 Questions with Tenney Flynn
1. Who is your favorite New Orleanian, dead or alive, real or imagined?
2. What first brought you to New Orleans?
I got a job as the Director of Culinary at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. I had never been to New Orleans before.
3. In your opinion – what’s the best neighborhood in New Orleans?
The French Quarter. I love the smells in this area. If the wind is right, you can smell the coffee roasting in the Marigny.
4. City Park or Audubon Park?
City Park. I don’t often make it Uptown to Audubon.
5. Describe the best meal you’ve eaten in New Orleans?
How about the best meal I’ve eaten in the past week? It was two slices of pizza from Pizza Delicious.
6. Where’s your favorite brunch spot?
7. What’s your favorite po-boy? Where do you go to get it?
8. You’ve got friends visiting and it’s their first time in New Orleans – where are you taking them?
9. What’s your favorite neighborhood bar?
10. What is your favorite New Orleans cocktail and where do you go to get it?
I’m not a drinker, so I’ll pass on this one.
11. Snowball or Daiquiri? Where from and what flavor?
I like snowballs, but I really prefer the popsicles from Meltdown on Dumaine near Decatur.
12. Best spot to see live music?
13. Favorite New Orleans musician or band?
14. Favorite New Orleans Festival?
French Quarter Festival – it’s family friendly and has great food! We sell fish tacos at our booth every year.
15. Favorite Mardi Gras parade?
Krewe du Vieux.
16. Where do you shop in New Orleans?
17. What is your favorite New Orleans museum?
The Cabildo. I do yoga there on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
18. Where do you go to watch The Saints play?
I watch them on TV at GW Fins.
19. Describe New Orleans in one word.
This time of year, sultry.
20. When was the last time you fell in love with New Orleans and why?
This morning while I was riding my bike to work. I was reminded of the Mark Twain quote: “In America, there is New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco. Everywhere else is Cleveland.”
* All photos by Sara Essex Bradley