This week I’d like to introduce you all to Louann Dermyre. Affectionally known as Mamma Lou around here. Louann has been with the Bistro off and on for nearly 30 years, starting back when Brady’s was in the Southfield Prudential Town Center.
If you’ve ever had a bowl of soup here, especially the chowder, you have felt/tasted Lou’s love for what she does. Louann makes 90% of the soups and I’ve never seen her glance at a recipe. She cooks from her heart, old school style. Lou usually arrives around 7 or 8 in the morning, makes a whipped cream coffee, and gets chopping and sautéing right away, then she gets the broth in there and lets the pot simmer all morning. She adds this and that and tastes and tastes until it is just right. She has an excellent palette… whenever I’m making something new I always ask Lou for her opinion if I need to adjust my seasoning. She has many many years of cooking under her “apron” so she knows her way around the kitchen but I think her true secret is LOVE.
After graduating from Stevenson high school Lou went to beauty school, but due to unforeseen circumstances she needed a job and like many of us, found her way into a kitchen some 40 years ago. Louann married young, had two gorgeous daughters, Shelby & Amber, and sadly was widowed before she was 40. Louann poured her broken heart into raising her girls and continued her culinary career. Louann used to do ALL of Mary’s catering and she helped Mary run the kitchen when it was back by the theatre. The year before we opened our current location Lou’s daughter, Shelby, was tragically hit by a car. She was only 19. I can’t imagine how losing a child must feel. Although Lou’s heart is broken, she carries on. I didn’t really get to know Louann until she worked here. I didn’t think she would be able to come back to work so soon after losing Shelby, but surprisingly she did, and she continues to thrive. Louann is a big part of my mental health here. Her and I are the two “old ladies” in the kitchen. We crab about our arthritis, the challenges of gaining and (trying) losing weight, we worry about our moms and yap about the men in our lives. We’ve shared many a tear and many a hug but more laughs than not. I am in awe of her strength and her ability to love, to care for others, to go through the ups and down of grieving… and to still find joy in life. She supports her daughter Amber; going to all her running and biking races, taking care of Amber’s wiener dogs, helping her move and carry on without her sister. Lou has a long-term boyfriend of 20 years, Kenny. They love to hop in the car, play some 70’s rock and hit the road. She loves the Smokies, out west and the U.P. When not traveling, she and Kenny love to spend their afternoons relaxing on their boat. Louann enjoys church with her mom every Sunday and loves a bubble bath and the rare minute to herself. Lou just goes goes goes!
Louann is semi-retired; she is only here about 3 days a week now, always at lunch and mostly weekends when we are our busiest. The days that she’s not here I feel like the kitchen is missing its heart. She’s our Mamma Lou and we love her.
Next time you’re in for lunch say hi to the pretty little lady in the back, maybe she’ll share a “recipe” with you. I don’t think you’ll need your measuring spoons.
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