Randy Fertel’s The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak: A New Orleans Family Memoir has been chosen as a 2011 Sharp Writ Book Award winner in the Autobiography/Memoirs category.
The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak is the story of two larger-than-life characters and the son whom their lives helped to shape. Ruth Fertel was a petite, smart, tough-as-nails blonde with a weakness for rogues, who founded the Ruth's Chris Steak House empire almost by accident. Rodney Fertel was a gold-plated, one-of-a-kind personality, a railbird-heir to wealth from a pawnshop of dubious repute just around the corner from where the teenage Louis Armstrong and his trumpet were discovered. When Fertel ran for mayor of New Orleans on a single campaign promise--buying a pair of gorillas for the zoo-- he garnered a paltry 308 votes. Then he purchased the gorillas anyway!
The memoir offers a poignant and bittersweet portrait of one of New Orleans’ most legendary families, featuring the distinctive characters, color, food, and history of that city--before Hurricane Katrina and after.
Randy Fertel is president of both the Fertel Foundation and the Ruth U. Fertel Foundation, and co-founded the Ridenhour Prizes for Courageous Truth-Telling. He has taught English at Harvard University, Tulane University, Lemoyne College, the University of New Orleans, and the New School for Social Research. His work has appeared on NPR and in the Huffington Post, Kenyon Review, Creative Nonfiction, Smithsonian, New Orleans Magazine, and Gastronomica. He lives in New Orleans and New York.
Sharp Writ Book Awards are organized by Smart Book Lovers, a High IQ Society. Smart Book Lovers is a non-profit independent organization whose membership is open to people with high intellects and a passion for books