Britney Spears’ dad and me, in the kitchen, talk crawfish


Phil Maloof hired Britney Spears’ dad, chef Jamie, to cook for hundreds of people at the Maloof family Super Bowl party. That’s where I met Jamie Spears, in the penthouse kitchen in Palms Place towers.

I knew Spears was a big LSU Tigers fan. I went to LSU, and he’s from a town near LSU, while my family is nearby in New Orleans. So mid-Super Bowl, we talked about home.

Me: My family had to run from (Hurricane) Katrina. Did you have family that had to run from Katrina?

Spears: All my family. But we’re north of the lake. We got a lot of wind. We got some water.

Me: This is a really nice party.

Spears: Yes, it is. I’m glad to be here. I haven’t cooked for Phil in probably two to three years. … I only do two or three (events) a year because I’m so busy. The (Maloof) family’s wonderful.

Me: How did you even meet them?

Spears: My daughter’s manager, Larry Rudolph. I’ve been knowing them ever since the Palms started. … Larry and George (Maloof) were good friends. I had come to California. I was thinking about trying to go to a chef’s school or something. Larry told me, “Let me talk to George.” So I loaded up my truck. I took all my stuff down to Phil’s condo on Wilshire Boulevard, and I went and cooked for him: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, Southern stuff. That’s what I cook, Southern stuff and comfort food, Louisiana food. And he hired me. So it was a long, very good relationship.

Me: What did you cook today?

Spears: Everything I did today was Southern. I did chicken wings, but mine have a different kind of sauce on it. I did pulled pork. I did a brisket. I did an old Southern salad: green onion and egg. And quail breast with bacon on it. I had venison deer sausage with jalapeno and cheese. And banana pudding.

Me: What’s your secret?

Spears: I have no secret. It’s simple. Everything I do is simple.

Me: With certain pulled pork and some of that stuff, do you want to cook for days, or a half-a-day?

Spears: Well, I have a real cooking rig at home. (For this), I improvised. I started at 9 o’clock yesterday morning. I finished at 4 this morning, and then I got here at 7:30, and I’ve been cooking on two-and-a-half hours sleep. It’s just something we do at home. We cook.

Me: It took me years to find good crawfish here (in Vegas).

Spears: That’s what we specialize in, is crawfish. I had a seafood place — me and my grandmother — 13 years in Kentwood, La.

Me: How often do you come to Vegas?

Spears: I don’t usually come very much, but my daughter has a show here now, so we’re in and out.

Me: How do you like the show? Have you seen every single show, or do you just watch it every now and then?

Spears: I never miss a show. I love the show.

Me: What do you think people should go see it for?

Spears: It’s the best show in Vegas.

Me: Her shows are always so extravagant.

Spears: It is. She’s an “A” class performer, so she deserves an “A”-class show.

Me: Have you ever been onstage before?

Spears: Hell, no.

Me: She should take you up onstage one day.

Spears: No.

Me: Come on.

Spears: Nn-Nn.

Me: So now that you’re coming into Vegas, are you enjoying it at all? Or do you just work?

Spears: I just work. I don’t go out. I don’t do anything like that. I go to work from 1 o’clock or 12 o’clock to 1 o’clock in the morning, and then when we finish our run, I fly out.

Me: For some reason, I thought you were cooking a lot.

Spears: No, I cooked for four years, and I quit. I just do it for special occasions.

Me: What’s your favorite thing in the world to eat?

Spears: Crawfish. Crawfish etouffee. Boiled crabs.

Me: Do you want anyone to hire you for VIP stuff?

Spears: No. No. I got as much cooking as I want to do.

Me: Is there anything you want me to tell the world?

Spears: Hmm. Life’s good.

Me: Thanks for the food.

Spears: I ought to get Phil to do a crawfish boil. I’ll come do it.

Me: There’s nothing better than a crawfish boil.

Doug Elfman’s column appears on Page 3A in the main section on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.