The Stephens’ are a local Salem family and have been in the community for well over 20 years. Steve has been a firefighter/paramedic with the City of Salem for 23 years and Jen has been a nurse, serving many roles for the last 15 years, currently as a nurse practitioner at Liberty House. Their son, Asher, is a sweet and funny 4 year old with a veracity to learn from everything his parents do, including what they do in the kitchen.
Jen and Steve have loved cooking together for most of their relationship. Creating love in the form of food has been brewing in their kitchen for many years. Both grew up in families where the kitchen was an active learning environment, with the expectation that everyone played a role. Steve continued his culinary skill building while working at the fire department. Jen and Steve combined their love of fine cuisine as a couple and have been keeping it hot and spicy ever since!
Why, you might ask, would this couple want to bring New Orleans cuisine to Salem, Oregon? Well, Jen’s younger brother, Josh, started going to the New Orleans Jazz Fest many, MANY years ago and his tradition spread throughout the family. Jen and Steve even had a “baby moon” in New Orleans, spending 2 weeks listening to music and eating their way through the city. It was then that they fell in love with the cuisine and the culture of New Orleans.
The couple has made their way back to New Orleans every Jazz Fest they can, starting Asher in the tradition when he was only 8 months old. Asher’s love of New Orleans was instantaneous and he talks about it frequently, listing his favorite dishes. The only problem…..the food was so far away and they hated to wait for every visit back just to be able to enjoy the flavors of the creole dishes! Thus enters the “Krewe” beginnings.
Krewe du Soul began as a food booth at the Saturday Market in Salem during the 2017 season. Not a day went by of Steve serving soul food goodness that a customer didn’t ask “Where’s your restaurant?” so the obvious next step was to make that happen. And Willamette Heritage Center just happened to have an empty cafe looking for an operator….the union couldn’t be more perfect!
You might ponder on where the name came from….well, the name pays homage to the Mardi Gras Krewes who are responsible for putting together one of the world’s largest parties each year in New Orleans, combined with the soul that goes into the food the cafe will serve each day!!
Steve, Jen and Asher will continue to visit New Orleans and bring back what they learn to infuse into their cafe, adding in a bit of the Northwest to make it unique. They won’t stray too far from the New Orleans classics but just enough to make it something you can’t find anywhere else! The Stephens’ family is very passionate about serving good, soul enriching food to anyone who enters their doors and the love they have will be forever captured in each dish that is created!