Haitian cuisine would have made it to California, but it wouldn’t have made as big of a splash had it not been for Georges Laguerre, better known as Tigeorges. Laguerre is the owner of TiGeorges Restaurant, one of the few Haitian restaurants in California, and one of the most celebrated restaurants serving international cuisine in California. After decades of owning the landmark restaurant, running his own non-profit organization and selling his branded Haitian coffee, Tigeorges is telling his story in No Man Is An Island: A Memoir of Family and Haitian Cuisine, co-written with Jeremy Rosenberg.
Above: Chef Tigeorges! Photo Credit: Tor Johansen/TorPhoto
TiGeorges nearly died at birth and had to be revived. His restaurant got burned down at the height of success, only to be moved elsewhere and be more popular than ever. Can this book be categorized? No Man Is An Island is a foodie memoir, it’s an autobiography, and it’s a cookbook. It’s a love letter from a man who loves Haiti, Haitian cuisine, and the kitchen.
Above: Chef Tigeorges and co-writer Jeremy Rosenberg inside Tigeorges Chicken in California. Photo Credit: Fabrice Cazeau.
Kreyolicious: When you were little, did you ever imagine you’d get this far in life?
Yes…My dream was to become a camera man in Hollywood…So far, that dream has not been materialized.
[But] for sure I knew from the education that I had received from my parents I will play a very important role in society.
Kreyolicious: No Man Is An Island. I think this title is so appropriate for your book. So many ways you could interpret it. Did you consider other titles?
Tigeorges in the kitchen…Because cooking was always my passion.
Kreyolicious: So you worked with Professor Jeremy Rosenberg on the book. What was the collaboration process like?
It took us seven years to make this book. Always have been fun to work with Jeremy.
Kreyolicious: How did you ever get the courage to make the move to California, when you had been living in New York for so long?
Never did like the cold…I remember during winter time, I always had the blues. Could not see myself back in NewYork again—although my entire family is in New York.
Kreyolicious: Do you see yourself writing another book after this one?
The answer is yes…Because I have so much more to say about my life experience in Los Angeles.
Above: Tigeorges Laguerre (left) and co-author Jeremy Rosenberg at an event promoting the book No Man Is An Island. Photo Credit: Gary Leonard.
Kreyolicious: At one point, you were really into filmmaking. Do you ever think about having a cooking TV show about Haitian cuisine?
A TV show is a great idea. That will give me a chance to show to the youth interested in Haitian cuisine how much
passion exists in the Haitian culinary [arts].
Kreyolicious: I have heard that some Walmarts around the country are selling “griyo” in their deli. Only, they don’t call it griyo. Do you think that as the decades go by, Haitian cooking will become more mainstream…like griyo will become the new taco, and diri sòs pwa will become the new chow mein?
Anything coming out of Haiti is hard to sell. Somehow, the rest of the world feel the originality of our cuisine should change so that Haitianty can be accepted and I refuse to sell Haiti on that level. No deformation if you come to patronage my business. I am going to say that Haiti[‘s] cuisine is among the ten best cuisines on this planet. And us Haitian restaurateurs have great responsibility not to combine the name of our restaurant with the name of other countries—that is Caribbean Haitian, French Kreyol etc.
Kreyolicious: What else can we look forward to from you?
Soon to open up a TiGeorges Kafe in my home town Port-De-Paix.
CLICK HERE to purchase his book on Amazon.
CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE TIGEORGES RESTAURANT WEBSITE.