Family Recipe

Family Recipe

Camellia Brand’s Chef Jamie Warrick reflects on how her mother has impacted her career

Words by Javacia Harris Bowser

Jamie Warrick, chef and recipe developer for the New Orleans-based company Camellia Brand – the first dried bean company in the country – has studied culinary arts at Northwestern State University of Louisiana and Louisiana Culinary Institute. She also has a degree in culinology from University of Holy Cross. But Warrick is quick to tell anyone who asks that her first culinary teacher was her mother.

“She taught me the foundations,” Warrick says. “My mom didn't know that I had to cook chicken to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, but I learned that when I opened that chicken up there had better not be blood coming out,” she says with a laugh. “If it was still running with a little bit of a red through it, it wasn't done.”

Some of Warrick’s fondest childhood memories are moments in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother. Early on, it was her job to chop the onions, bell pepper, celery, and other vegetables.

“I'm taking the things that both of them taught me and I'm actually applying it every day,” the New Orleans native says.

She draws on their knack for seasoning foods perfectly as she develops new products for L.H. Hayward & Company, the parent company of Camellia Brand.

Last year, Camellia Brand Beans celebrated its 100th anniversary and Warrick is helping to keep the brand fresh for the future. She’s working to expand Camellia Brand’s line of seasonings and dinner mix products. She recently launched Camellia's Beans for 2 for folks who want to enjoy some authentic Louisiana comfort food in small batches.

Beans for 2 was created for the smaller family,” Warrick says. “So that could include a one-person household, newlyweds or empty nesters. They can now go in the store and get this and still have that nostalgic feeling but with less work.”

Family Dinner

Warrick has been fascinated with cooking since she was a child. Instead of sitting in front of the television to watch cartoons, she turned to PBS for the cooking shows featuring chefs like Julia Child. So being in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother was a joy, not a chore.

Warrick launched her formal culinary career working for several different restaurants that were part of Caesar’s Entertainment.

“But I always knew I wanted to do food manufacturing,” Warrick says.

So, she went back to school to study culinology, which focuses on product development and the science of food.

In 2022, Warrick joined L.H. Hayward & Company and she says working with Camellia Brand beans feels like a full-circle moment.

“My family has used Camellia Brand beans my entire life,” she says. “That's literally the only acceptable beans in our house.”

Also, the first dish Warrick cooked on her own was red beans and rice.

In her role at Camellia Brand, Warrick is focused on creating more health-conscious recipes.

“In my family, we've had some health issues,” she shares. So she’s been developing recipes that highlight beans as a good source of plant-based protein – many of which she showcases during a weekly cooking segment on a New Orleans local TV station.

One of her favorite recipes is for Jamaican Jerk Black Bean Tacos.

“Typically, beans are on the side, but this time they’re going to be the star of the show,” she says.

She also uses beans in deserts like her Cherry Pecan Black Bean Brownie.

“There are fun ways to incorporate beans,” she says. “It doesn't just have to be a smothered plate of beans.”

Now Warrick gets to teach her mother something new.

“We both are on a journey of being mindful of what we're eating and so the fact that I have beans in abundance to play with and come up with different recipes, it's been fun to introduce her to new things,” she says.

Warrick is still making cooking a family affair. As a busy single mom, she often uses Camellia Brand beans – especially the Beans for 2 product -- when preparing dinner for herself and her six-year-old son Jaxon.

And he loves being her sidekick in the kitchen.

“His favorite activity is helping me to wash the beans, of course, because he gets to play in water,” she says.

Food is the cornerstone for so many family gatherings – especially in the South – and Warrick is always eager to pass on that sense of family to Camellia Brand customers.

“In my family, we usually gathered around food, whether it was a happy occasion or a sad occasion,” she says. “My background and everything that I learned, I get to share with the consumers that we have. The seasoning and the beans are all packaged with love.”