Sunday, December 31, 2006

Frank's Place

One of the best things about living in New Orleans is the food. I've been an enthusiastic student of Creole culinary traditions ever since we moved here when I was six years younger and 40 pounds lighter. But there was always an important part of the culture of Big Easy cuisine that was absent from my repertoire like a roux sans flour. This was the 1987-1988 CBS series Frank's Place, something I have long desired to watch but didn't know how because it's not officially released on video and the reruns don't currently air. But then, thanks to rota fortuna spinning upward, I found them.

The premise of the show is that a Boston professor of Italian Renaissance Art, Frank Parish (played by Tim Reid, who previously played Venus Flytrap in WKRP) inherits a Creole restaurant in New Orleans, called Chez Louisiane, from his estranged father. Then because of voodoo, he reluctantly changes careers and runs the restaurant. All of the characters are great, but I think my favorite is Tiger the bartender. He plays a big role in two of my favorite episodes, "Frank Joins the Club" and "Where's Ed?" Every episode begins with Louis Armstrong singing "Do You Know What it Means, to Miss New Orleans?" It's a very well written show. Mark Christensen, a writer for Rolling Stone, commented "rarely has a prime-time show attempted to capture so accurately a particular American subculture--in this case that of blue-collar blacks in Louisiana." The show has aged well, and I highly recommend it, especially to those who are fond of the uniqueness of New Orleans. Chez Louisiane was based on the famous Creole restaurant Chez Helene, at which I never had the privilege to eat. The skipper-cap-wearing chef in the TV show is named Big Arthur, and he is based on the famous New Orleans chef Austin Leslie. Leslie later went on to cook at Jacques-Imo's and finally Pampy's Creole Kitchen. After Katrina he spent two days in his attic before being evacuated to Atlanta where he died a few days later. His recipe for fried chicken with persillade is still one of the favorites at Pampy's, and I highly recommend it. Better yet, get the fried chicken to go, and watch Frank's Place on DVD. You can either borrow them from me, or purchase them as I did, from Professor Video. He sells all of the episodes on 5 DVDs for $50.


Anonymous said...

good times.

i used to work with chef austins' newphew gary who is the guy they always show in the gumbo shop's ads in gambit portraying louis armstrong.

i also remember when that show was on the air and one of the actors who i think was named don yasso was on the johnny carson show and was trying to explain to carson the concept of a "carport" i guess a "hose pipe" was to radical for national t.v. back than.

thanks for the memory.

Anonymous said...

I'm still looking for this wonderful series.

Anonymous said...

i would like very much to borrow or buy vhs or dvd of this show, to help me with a book i'm writing about new orleans. please get in touch with
thank you.

Carol Schlenk said...

I've been searching for VHS or DVD copies of the Frank's Place series ever since it went off the air. If you can help me obtain a DVD of the series, please contact me at:

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm sure their restaurant capital has just skyrocketed!

John said...

Thanks for the tip to check out Professor Video. I've been looking for copies of that show off and on for years. I'm not wild about dropping $50 just to see if it's as good as I remember from my childhood, but thanks for pointing me to a resource.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the heads up regarding Frank's Place. I was talking to my aunt a few days ago and she mentioned wanting to find this show on DVD. This will be a great Xmas surprise/gift for her.

Joel Mielke said...

Hey, thanks for the tip. Frank's Place DVDs would make my parents very happy.

How's the quality?

Anonymous said...

I am unable to get the Video Professor's email address. I also didn't see Frank's Place in the listings. This is a true gem of a series. If someone can steer me toward how to purchase the DVD's I'd be much appreciative.
Jack-Pine Jeff

Michael Homan said...

I just emailed my old contact info for Todd at Professor Video, and asked him to comment. LEt's see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for emailing me Michael. I do still have Frank's Place DVDs available. My web site is located at and there is a link to email me at the bottom of the page. Note that my web page is Professor Video, not Video Professor which sells instructional computer videos.

Anonymous said...

Scott from St. Louis;

I have been looking for sometime for a source regarding Frank's Place on DVD.

I have a few episodes on old VHS from the original airingmof the series on CBS so the quality leaves quite a bit to be desired and I do not have the complete series.

The link to Professor Video does not work so I would be eternally grateful if you could put me in touch with someone regarding this very enjoyable program. which is one of my all time favorites.

Thanks so much

Scott from St. Louis

Anonymous said...

You are so honest! I loved Franks Place. I sure wish I could get them.
Back to you- you are soooo special, do you know that?
And you sure can write!!!
Thank you Michael, you really made my day.
What a great person you are to send all these requests, and answer people. Just know that you are special, and you can never know what "just reading" your notes did for me. There's nothing left, it seems of people who really care about other people, or good tv shows. Why did they take Franks Place off anyway?


Anonymous said...

I want the DVDs on Frank's Place, and I want Jake and The Fat Man, and Baby I'm Back. Could you contact the Professor Video and give him my email , or give me a telephone number to call you or him ?
I'm having trouble with my email now, but I hope to have it back and running, soon.
I would really appreciate it.
you are nice!


Unknown said...

I have the entire run on (5) DVDS

Anonymous said...

I was just told by a good friend of mine about this show I'm very interested in purchasing this collection, how many episodes and what is the quality of the videos? Either VHS or DVD is fine for me. thank you for any help or leads you can offer


Anonymous said...

Please e-mail me direct with your e-mail & i'll give you the needed info.

Anonymous said...

I have a copy of those back then but lost it during my 40's.. I'm hoping to find it back if I have time.

Charles Baratta