WILKES-BARRE – Sue Zemanick graduated from Coughlin High School in 1999 and, three weeks later, went to the Culinary Institute of America to learn to be a chef.
Now 31, Zemanick is head chef at Gautreau's restaurant in New Orleans – site of Super Bowl XLVII.
There's always something going on here, she said. This is a tourist city that thrives on busy times like the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras.
Zemanick knew at an early age that she wanted to be a chef. I always loved to cook when I was a kid, she said. I was 16 when I found out about the Culinary Institute of America. I went there for a week one summer and fell in love with it.
Her mother and brother live in Wilkes-Barre, and Zemanick said she tries to get home when she can. Growing up in small town had many benefits, she said. My parents taught me a lot about hard work and perseverance.
Zemanick, who previously worked at Oceana in New York City and Commander's Palace in New Orleans, was named executive chef at Gautreau's in 2005, according to the restaurant's website. It states: Gautreau's was badly damaged during Hurricane Katrina and closed for a year and a half to go under repair and renovation. Once it reopened in February 2007, Zemanick was able to put her mark on the new Gautreau's. The restaurant offers Modern French and contemporary Louisiana fare using only fresh ingredients.
Patrick Singley, Gautreau's owner, said Zemanick is a dynamic person – very young, energetic and very creative.
She helped me rebuild after the storm when a tornado ripped our roof off, Singley said. And, she has become nationally acclaimed as a chef, he said.
Every now and then, he added, someone from the Wilkes-Barre area will come into the restaurant and ask for Zemanick. She is always happy to connect with people from her hometown, he said.