LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- They call her 'Jambalaya Girl' and her new business is booming.
But eight years ago it was a different story for Kristin Preau who left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, coming to Louisville for support. She's not just back on her feet, but her product line has now been picked up by a national retailer, and she gives all the credit to Louisville.
Eight years after fleeing to Louisville on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, Kristin Preau is back in town, this time, not seeking refuge but saying thank you, the best way she knows how.
“My cousin Jeff Schwoeppe, he's a firefighter here, this house and a couple other houses raised money for my family directly," says Preau.
Thursday she visited Louisville Fire Engine #4 and served up heaping helpings of her father's jambalaya. A recipe she first debuted in Louisville eight years ago when she was a recent college grad displaced by the storm.
Looking to rebuild not just her own life, but her city, she got cooking.
“September 13, 2005 we did our first Jambalaya cookout at Café Lou Lou, then I took it on the road”, recalls Preau.
She traveled all across the southeast with her campaign "Get New Orleans Cookin Again", raising about $100,000 for the recovery.
Kristen realized the success meant more than just support for New Orleans, but for her cooking. So her recovery effort, became a business venture with the “Come Cook Me Something Mister” Jambalaya mix. It’s now on shelves at Sam’s Club. The retailer asked Preau in which city she wanted to debut the mix, for her there was no question.
“Full of gratitude for the city of Louisville, for the firefighters for my family and friends here, it really meant a lot. My business would not be in existence if it wasn't for Katrina and the support the city of Louisville has given us”, says Preau.