Wednesday, November 30

Volunteer Vacation in New Orleans: Save Willie Mae's Scotch House

Want to make a difference in New Orleans? Want to be a part of reinvigorating the city's culinary culture?

The SFA is partnering with the Heritage Conservation Network, a non-profit that organizes hands-on architectural conservation workshops around the world, to save Willie Mae's Scotch House, a landmark neighborhood restaurant in an historic vernacular building.

You will recall that, during our July 2005 Field Trip to New Orleans, we awarded 89-year-old proprietor and fried chicken wizard Willie Mae Seaton with a Guardian of the Tradition award.

We are asking members to sign up for a series of three-day workshops aimed at preserving and repairing Ms. Seaton's home and attached business, allowing her to return to the work she loves.

Workshop participants will provide free labor for the project while learning building conservation skills from an expert leader and teacher. Not so handy with a hammer? Have no fear. NO EXPERIENCE IS NECESSARY.

A series of 3-day weekends are scheduled during which crews of 8 will work. These weekends begin January 13-15, 2006 and continue through February 10-12.

Volunteers will pay for their own transportation and lodging, although, upon request, the SFA will work with local folks to help secure -- but not guarantee -- the latter.

Expect to work hard during the day and then join your co-workers (and maybe New Orleans locals like Lolis Eric Elie and Pableaux Johnson) for dinner in the evening at one of our member restaurants, say Upperline, Restaurant August, Bayona, Cuvee, Jacques-Imo's, Emeril's, or Herbsaint. And to help you find your way in the city, the SFA will provide a primer of sorts, pointing the way to the city's best midday eats, too.

Here's the pitch: Willie Mae Seaton needs your help. So do the right thing. Lend a hand and join your fellow SFA-ers in the quest to make New Orleans whole.

If you would like to participate, please email the SFA at by December 9. Weekend choices and work team captains will be assigned on a first-come first-served basis.

If you have questions about Heritage Conservation Network, email or visit

To learn a bit more about Ms. Seaton, read Lolis Elie's Times Picayune piece: