FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – On August 29, 2005, John Maxwell and his wife Amy were sitting in their second floor hotel room in downtown New Orleans.
“We could see the storm blowing right down Poydras Street, blowing trash cans and cars,” Maxwell said.
This time nine years ago, Maxwell was living in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. At the time, he managed Mother’s Restaurant in New Orleans, a popular restaurant off the French Quarter. Even after suffering devastation himself, the chef of nearly four decades got right to work feeding the first responders. He and his wife were preparing around 600 meals a day with no water, gas, electricity, or even trash pickup.
“It was as much a challenge at that time to feed people as it was to not get somebody sick,” Maxwell said.
They fed people around the city until the National Guard forced them out because of safety reasons. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that they were allowed to go back to their home and business.
“That’s when we walked into 400 pounds of catfish that had been sitting in 98-degree heat for two weeks,” Maxwell said. He said he had to throw out around $100,000 worth of food and liquor from the restaurant, but that wasn’t the worst of the situation.
“The entire city smelled like death,” Maxwell said.
The Maxwells stayed in New Orleans for about two years after the storm before they decided to move to Fort Wayne to be closer to his wife’s family. They also both agreed that they didn’t want to suffer through another Hurricane season. After a few years of getting acclimated to Fort Wayne, the couple began a new venture. About three years ago, they started up Big John’s Ragin’ Cajun food truck which featured some of their hometown favorites.
“We couldn’t get the food that we grew up loving in New Orleans,” Maxwell said. “There was no place serving it.”
Business has been good for the couple, and they said they’ve been well-received in the community. If you want to try Ragin’ Cajun, or any of the food trucks in Fort Wayne, there’s a new app that tracks them around the city.