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Kelly Fields, chef/partner, Willa Jean; founder, Yes Ma’am Foundation
Chef Kelly Fields is making the world she wants to see on a plate at Willa Jean, the Southern bakery and cafe she opened with chef John Besh in New Orleans in 2015.
Before opening Willa Jean, Fields spent two decades making high-end desserts as executive pastry chef for Besh’s restaurant group. With Willa Jean, named after her “sassy and sarcastic” grandmother, Fields creates items that reflect who she is and her mission to provide space at her restaurant for all people.
Among the notable dishes on the menu are Cookies and Milk, Willa Jean’s chocolate chip cookies served with a side of raw dough and a glass of vanilla milk, and the LGBTQ+, an open-faced sandwich with lettuce, whipped garlic, bacon, roasted tomatoes and puffed quinoa, which Fields posted on Instagram in May, saying it was “coming to lunch hella soon,” along with the hashtags #willajean #queertoast #bltbutforus #tartines #toast #queer #equalityrules #queeraf #celebratewhoyouare.
Fields is also working to make an impact outside of Willa Jean, with the 2017 founding of Yes Ma’am, her nonprofit foundation that aims to inspire, encourage and mentor female chefs.
Expect to find Fields’ recipes in bookstores in the near future, as she recently signed a cookbook deal with Ten Speed Press, according to a May report in Eater New Orleans.