Upcoming food hall St. Roch Market officially debuts this Friday, April 10, in what is certain to be the biggest spring opening in New Orleans. Not only does the return of the market mark an important milestone for the community, but the business also solidifies St. Claude Avenue as the city's newest street of dreams when it comes to dining.
When the doors open, thirteen vendors will serve up everything from African food to oysters. This week, in anticipation of the opening, Eater NOLA talks to each of the lucky thirteen on what to expect at their counter, and what they're most excited about at the new St. Roch Market.
Up now, Kayti Williams, creator of Koreole and resident of St. Roch since 2007. She's Korean. Her husband is Creole. The dishes at Koreole are a mash up of both culinary traditions, and her crispy chicken wings with ginger sauce? Epic. Here now, Williams talks making the jump from unknown pop up to community favorite.
What all will you be offering at St. Roch Market?
We have prepared food. The Koreole fried chicken, the bibimbap bowl. And we also have small dishes, the Japchalaya is one of our best sellers. We have homemade kimchi and specialty bubble teas—a Vietnamese iced coffee bubble tea, a strawberry basil bubble tea that's made in house at St. Roch. If someone is making jams or preserves, I'll use that to tweak my bubble teas and make new ones. It's been really cool to do that. On our retail side, I have a lot of Korean sauces and main staples that you can't really get unless you go to the Westbank or Metairie, so we'll have red pepper paste and flakes, soybean paste, roasted seaweed, stuff like that, that I use day to day.
What's one dish you're most excited to offer and why?
Definitely it has to be the bibim-bowl. It's very creative and beautiful, and it tastes good. It has all these great vegetables, and your choice of meat, a fried egg and sauce. It's popular. Aesthetically, it's really beautiful, but it's tastes good also.
What does St. Roch Market mean to you? Why did you apply for a vendor spot?
I live in the neighborhood. I can walk to work from my house. I also worship here, my church is in the neighborhood and plays a huge roll in the community. I've been invested in the neighborhood in all different aspects—with the youth, with job development, with economic development—so it just felt very natural...The order of things from doing the St. Claude food truck park, introducing myself to the surrounding neighborhoods... It felt very natural to go into the market. At the neighborhood association meetings, all my neighbors were saying to Will and Barre, you have to have Koreole. The community spoke on my behalf while sharing their vision, so I knew that's where I had to go. My staff is from the neighborhood—I was very intentional about that. Because to develop our businesses and individuals is important. Individuals make the community.
What other vendor are you most excited about?
Everybody. That's the beauty of the market. Dirty Dishes, their crepes...they have this Spinach Florentine...it's delicious. Donna is a really great baker. Having an oyster bar is perfect. We have an oyster shucker on site. I can go down the list. Kris Doll. I can't wait to have his stuff, his butcher shop is literally right across the street. Even have local produce for our community, that they can buy, that they can't get anywhere else except restaurants, you know, that's awesome.