The Author


Randy Fertel, a writer based in New York and New Orleans, is president of both the Fertel Foundation and the Ruth U. Fertel Foundation. He holds a PhD from Harvard University, where he received a student-voted teaching award, and specializes in the literature of the Vietnam War. He has taught English at Harvard, Tulane University, LeMoyne College, the New School for Social Research, and the University of New Orleans. Fertel is a prolific and popular essayist with recent items in Smithsonian, Gastronomica, Gilt Taste, Creative Nonfiction, Tikkun, New Orleans Magazine  and Kenyon Review, which published his award-winning essay on Hurricane Katrina.

A former busboy, restaurant manager and Director of Marketing for Ruth's Chris Steak House, Fertel remembers interrupting high school homework to make emergency French bread runs. A lover of fine wines, fine food, and great cars, he has long dined out on the stories that make up The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak.

As president of the Fertel Foundation, Fertel weaves together people and ideas, and fosters projects related to the arts and education.  The Foundation is especially interested in initiatives from which new communities and new insights may emerge, and those that challenge entrenched communities of power. 

He is also president of The Ruth U. Fertel Foundation, which is devoted exclusively to education in Louisiana, providing scholarships and support to high-achieving, economically deprived students in the New Orleans region.  The year after the storm, The Ruth U. Fertel Foundation pledged over one million dollars in grants to New Orleans schools and educational resources.

Among the projects supported by Fertel’s foundations:

  • The Ron Ridenhour Prizes for Courageous Truth Telling, co-sponsored with the Nation Institute.  The awards recognize whistleblowers and reward their pursuit of courage and truth with four $10,000 prizes annually for best act, best book, best film and lifetime achievement. 
  • The Southern Food Alliance’s Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award, paying homage to Randy’s mother, the late Ruth Fertel. 
  • The Ruth U. Fertel Culinary Arts Building, to be erected as a part of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA.  It is designed to extend and perpetuate the culinary heritage that has stretched from Louisiana across the globe, a heritage in which Ruth Fertel has played such an important role.
  • Bringing Alice Waters’ “Edible Schoolyard Project” from Berkeley, CA to New Orleans schools.
  • Perpetuating the essential musical and artistic culture of New Orleans through “Artist Corps,” which puts musicians into K-3 classrooms to teach full-time.
  • Spearheading a drive to protect menhaden—“the most important fish in the sea” because they form the basis of the food chain in healthy oceans—from extinction through factory fishing by Omega Protein.

Now in its 3rd Printing

from the University Press of Mississippi

Eat Like Ruth

Explore some of her favorite recipes

Ruth Fertel Tribute


Randy on Rodney

Hear Randy’s take on the Gorilla Man in these NPR pieces, “The Political Circus” (Morning Edition, 12/4/02) and The Political Circus” and “Travels with Dad”

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