Author Spotlight: Peggy Sweeney-McDonald

cafe du monde book

Monday, Peggy was at Traveling With T for an interview. Today, she’s revealing her #literarycrush ( a “Grey” literary crush!), showing her Southern roots, and telling us what type of food she would be (if possible!)


Author Spotlight: Peggy Sweeney McDonald

Peggy, when not working- what do you like to read? 

New Age Spiritual books (anything by Marianne Williamson, Wayne Dyer and Neal Donald Walsh) and any Oprah picks.

Do you have any #literaryconfessions? 

I’m a magazine junkie! I have to keep up on Hollywood scoop as I live in L.A.!

Do you have a #literarycrush? 

Christian Grey – Fifty  Shades of Grey (I can’t believe I am admitting it! Don’t tell my husband!)

What are some authors you really enjoy?

Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Kate Chopin – my southern roots are showing!

If you could meet anyone (living or dead) who would you pick? 

Judy Garland. I’m a huge Wizard of Oz fan!

If you could be any food in the world, what would you pick? And why? 

We ask this question in the shows and the book to all our storytellers and it’s always so much fun to see their personalities shine through.  I say I would be a Godiva chocolate, sometimes bitter or sweet or nutty or a tasty combination, but always a treat!


*Special thanks to Peggy Sweeney-McDonald for agreeing this Author Spotlight!


To connect with Peggy, please visit her website or Twitter page!


Interview with Peggy Sweeney- McDonald, author of Meanwhile Back at Cafe Du Monde

cafe du monde book

Last year, I had the pleasure to meet Peggy Sweeney-McDonald at Lemuria Books in Jackson, MS. I had won the book from Deep South Magazine in a contest- but since Peggy was so close by, I decided to drive over and meet her. And I’m so glad I did! Peggy is vivacious, entertaining, and just plain fun! Chatting with her about her book was the best way to spend an afternoon.

When I met Peggy, my blog was a year old; but still getting it’s feet on the ground. And I regretted the missed chance at interviewing her (as we just talked and talked that afternoon!) However, Peggy was kind enough to grant me an interview after I contacted her- and now readers of Traveling With T will be able to find why she’s a success- and how dear Café Du Monde is to her heart and soul.

Interview with Peggy Sweeney-McDonald

Peggy, Meanwhile Back at Café Du Monde originally was a show. Now it’s a book. What is next?

It has been an incredible journey from inspiration to idea to shows to book and beyond.  I’m now trying to pitch it as a television idea and would love to do a radio show too!  I’m being asked to write for food magazines and to present Meanwhile, Back at Café Du at conferences.  I’m scheduled to do the show at the Chili Pepper Extravaganza in New Orleans September 27-29th and will have some of the “Pepper Heads” on board to share their food stories.

How did you transition Meanwhile Back at Café Du Monde from show to book? What was the process?

This was a “learn as you go” experience with lots of ups and downs. I had never thought about writing a book before. I had the idea for the coffee table book of the stories from the shows when I was getting ready to go on stage for the first show. I was in the gift shop/kitchen of the Myrtles Plantation and there were coffee table books on a table for sale. I thought to myself, “This would be a great book with the stories, recipes and pictures”, I turned one of the books over and saw Pelican Publishing had published that book. I invited Pelican Publishing to come to a New Orleans show the next month as I knew they would be a good fit. They came to the show, loved it and gave me a book deal. Soon I had a literary agent, entertainment attorney and was learning the ropes of a book contract.  At times it has been very overwhelming but thrilling. I’m trying to stay centered, focused, excited and enjoy the ride. The book has received rave reviews from Emeril Lagasse, Chef John Besh, Rex Reed, Pulitzer Prize winning author Jeffrey Marx and more. It has been reviewed in newspapers and magazines including Southern Seasons, Texas Home and Living, Louisiana Cooking, Flavors, Chili Pepper Magazine and more.

Did you have better luck with having Meanwhile Back at Café Du Monde becoming a book because it’s about food and has great pictures?

I think the publisher liked the idea that it wasn’t just a cookbook and it was unique in that the stories originated from a live show and were shared by people from all walks of life not just chefs, restaurant owners and typical foodies.  We have the Mayor of Baton Rouge (Kip Holden) to a college student (Hannah Blomquist) and a Broadway theatre actress (Savannah Wise) and more that aren’t typical “foodies”.

Or does a book like this present it’s own unique challenges?  I had a 3 month deadline after signing the contract and trying to gather stories, pictures and releases from 67 people over the 2011 Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays was a huge challenge.  I know everyone was tired of getting my calls and emails but I wanted the book to come out the Fall of 2012 and so it had to be turned in by January 2012.  It was a crazy time and so many days, I didn’t  think I could get it accomplished but a day at a time, I did!  It was such a great feeling to turn in my “baby” to my publisher.  You think you have done the hard work at that point, but it has only just begun with the editing over the next 6 months and then planning the promotion.  I feel like I learned so much about publishing, myself, and life!  It was a wonderful time in my life.

Is Meanwhile Back At Café Du Monde a “foodie” book? Or is it an “everyone who likes food book”?

It is a book for anyone that loves stories about life, love, family, friends,  joy and sorrow and if you are a foodie, you will treasure the book as you will relate to something in every story!

Peggy, are you working on more books? Another show? 

I just finished a round of shows in Los Angeles and went back to Baton Rouge for the 3 year anniversary shows.  I’m taking a break from the live shows now as I’m concentrating on meetings with production companies to pitch the television idea. I am planning on writing a book about my journey of Meanwhile, Back at Café Du Monde… and the spiritual and life lessons I have learned along the way.  When you listen to divine inspiration and start taking the steps toward your dreams despite your fear, life gets bigger and better in so many ways.

What is your absolute favorite food that makes you think of life back home in the South? How is the food different in California than New Orleans?

Of course it would have to be beignets and Café Au Lait from Café Du Monde!  The sweetest thing in the world!  As I say in my title monologue, “no matter where I live or what is going on in my life, I always end up at Café Du Monde… taking life one beignet at a time!”

We have great food in Los Angeles. You can dine internationally here without ever leaving the city. However, New Orleans food has soul and there is something about the food that once you have tasted it, you just want more.  I go back to Baton Rouge to visit my family and once I have the first taste of good Louisiana food, all bets are off and any thought of dieting or eating right is down the drain . It’s off to the races.  It’s like the first bite explodes my taste buds and I’m once more I’m awakened to how fabulous Louisiana cooks are! I have to come back to Los Angeles to eat right and exercise so that I can go back to Louisiana a few months later to eat again! It’s a vicious cycle but so worth it!

What is the best “foodie” story that you’ve experienced?

It would have to be my own story as it comes from my heart .  My story begins when I left New York to move back to Louisiana with my New York fiancé and all the amazing years we lived in New Orleans eating our way thru the French Quarter and always ending up at Café Du Monde! Everyone has a “Café Du Monde” or Café of the World – a metaphor for your favorite comfort food place.  Everyone has a food story…. life spun around a thread of food!

*Special thanks to Peggy Sweeney-McDonald for agreeing to this interview!

back cafe du monde

Peggy loves food and stories about food! To connect with Peggy, please visit her website or Twitter page!

Valentine’s Ideas…..

Valentine’s Day. I’ll admit how much I love the red hearts, the glitter, the pretty packaging of the chocolate. How much I love having Valentine’s Day plans with someone special. I’ll even admit that some years I’ve been a Valentine hater- annoyed by the over-abundance of red, flowers, and the teddy bears everywhere. I’ve even participated in the “single awareness days” with good food and wine with friends. And there may even be a time or two where I’ve scoffed at the over-commercialization of the holiday, the cost of cards,dinner, flowers and more. But as the years keep turning, I’ll just admit that Valentine’s Day is a day to show love- to do something for yourself  that makes you happy. To make sure that your loved ones know they are special.

And while my heart still beats a little faster at the sight of red hearts and seeing all the over-the-top goodies and stuff; I recognize life is not a romantic-comedy (my life isn’t at any rate). So, in light of this- I always try to make my Valentine’s Day a bit special- no matter the status of my romantic life. Because being good to yourself is the best way to be happy.

I mentioned before that my Valentine’s Day plans include tickets to Cirque de la Mystique and having dinner with a friend. I also have my eye on a couple of different earrings at Dogeared Jewelry. I also plan to indulge myself the next weeked by going to the movies to see Safe Haven and have dinner at my favorite eating place.

Enjoy your Valentine’s day!

Gifts for Book Lovers:

Bookmagnet has a list of books that would make a great gift for the book lover in your life.

After reading the list, I thought of some other books that would make a great gift:

1. The Art Forger by B.A. Shapirio and tickets to an art exhibit/museum.

2. Beautiful Darkness and tickets to the movie

3. The Hunger Games trilogy ( I know, I know- I need to quit with The Hunger Games- but I still love it.)

4. The Meryl Streep Movie Club and a night of watching favorite Meryl Streep movies and snacks

5. Meanwhile Back at Cafe Du Monde for a foodie (even better to plan with a trip to New Orleans)

6. A gift certificate to favorite bookstore

7. An Audible subscription for audio-book lover

8. Like going to literary haunts? Buy Deep South Mag’s Literay Trail App and plan a road-trip!





Meeting Peggy Sweeney-McDonald…

68402_10100532162538866_1639191985_nI had the opportunity to meet Peggy Sweeney- McDonald, author of Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde, a couple of weeks ago. Peggy created a dinner party show that was also called Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde. In the show, different “foodies” would come and discuss the stories about their love of food, favorite dishes and more. Some of the guests are seriously famous, others are more of local legends. But food is the common denominator amongst these people- they love food- the taste, smell, stories- love how food unites people and creates memories. From the show came the idea of the book. A fantatsic coffee-table book filled with stories from the who-who’s in the food world to the local legends.

Peggy was a charming, fun lady- filled with laughter and fun stories. Listening to her talk, I could have sat with her for some time just to hear the stories, the experiences- she’s like the ultimate cocktail hostess- makes everyone feel comfortable, keeps people laughing and makes the time just fly by.

I’m about halfway finished with my copy of Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde– and it’s just chock-full of good stories and pictures. It’s a perfect coffee table book- a perfect conversation starter.

For readers curious about the title- Peggy’s dad filled me in while she was talking to another couple. He said that Cafe Du Monde had played such a big role in Peggy’s life- it was a hang-out, a place to visit- a place to enjoy good food. The story continues that Peggy and others would gather at Cafe Du Monde and talk stories, and then clink glasses together and say “Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde”- hence the name of the book. Peggy later told me that each person has a story- and your story may not be about Cafe Du Monde- but “Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde” is representative of the good food and stories- no matter where they originate.

Now, my own personal “Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde” story. A few weeks ago, Deep South Magazine was giving away a signed copy of Peggy Sweeney- McDonald’s book, Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde. To potentially win a copy- you were to share your Cafe Du Monde story. I shared mine and Peggy picked mine as the winner.

My First trip to New Orleans was an eye-opening experience. I went with my boyfriend and his family. His mother was determined that I see the real New Orleans- so while we stood in line at Cafe Du Monde for what appeared to me as minitature funnel cakes, I was unsure if this was worth the wait in line. However, once I took a bite out of the powdery sugar goodness- I was a fan. But, my real “Meanwhile Back at Cafe Du Monde” experience  happened a year later. A roommate and I decided to spend our Spring Break in New Orleans. For an entire year- I’d been raving about how the great beignets and we were going to go to Cafe Du Monde. Problem is, I’m directionally challenged. So we left our hotel in search of Cafe Du Monde. And Walked. And Walked. And Walked. My roommate sees a Krispy Kreme and says “Let’s stop here- I’m hungry and a Krispy Kreme is got to be as good as Cafe Du Monde”. I turned around and said “NO! We have to find Cafe Du Monde, we must eat beignets- coming down here and settling for Krispy Kreme is like going to the beach and not getting seafood!” Luckily, we found Cafe Du Monde right after that. We walked in and sat down. Ordered our drinks and planned the rest of our day. Then the beignets came out- all beautiful and sugary. My roommate  took a bite and said “You may be directionally challenged, but you sure know good food. I’ll never doubt you about food again.” We ate at Cafe Du Monde multiple times during our Spring Break trip.


Literary Friday ya’ll….

Friday- end of the month. Tomorrow is December 1- which means 24 days till Christmas day. So line up those pictures with Santa, listen to some Christmas music, and enjoy the holiday season.

1. Deep South Magazine took last week off from their #literayfriday post due to the holidays-but is back up and running for this week. Included in today’s #literaryfriday is how to donate a new or used book to victims of Hurricane Sandy, a review of The Cutting Season (a book on DSM Fall/Winter Reading List), links to the “Best of 2012” book lists, and news that Robin O’Bryant’s Ketchup is a Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves is 99 cents for November 30, 2012 (TODAY Only!)

2.Robin O’Bryant– author of Ketchup Is A Vegetable has been hosting giveaways all week to say “Happy Birthday, Ketchup!” If you haven’t won a giveaway, have rotten luck, dislike Facebook- whatever the reason-do not despair- Robin’s book Ketchup is 99 cents today! Sit back with a copy of Ketchup is Vegetable, a glass of wine and prepare to laugh until you cry!

3. Tomorrow, December 1, at Lemuria Books- Peggy Sweeney-McDonald will be signing copies of Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde: Life Stories about Food. I plan on attending and will be doing a blog post about the event later next week.

4. What are you reading for #fridayreads? I’m reading Peach of a Murder by Livia J. Washburn. Not just loving it, but attempting to give it a fair shake!

5. I just finished Broken Harbor by Tana French- and while from the jacket cover description I expected to LOVE it, I was at times not loving it. It took some turns that I wasn’t digging. But, it was still a pretty good book. If you’ve read Broken Harbor, let’s discuss!

6.December 1-8 is Cozy Mystery Week! If cozy mysteries are your type of books- then join Jenn’s Bookshelves for Cozy Mystery Week! Cozy Mystery Reviews will also be celebrating Cozy Mystery Week- giveaways, recipes, authors dropping by!

7. If you’re a fan of Cleo Coyle Coffeehouse Mystery Books (like I am!) the wait for the newest book in the series is not much longer! December 4 Holiday Buzz will be released! Yay!

8. Be sure and stop by She Reads today- Man in the Blue Moon is being discussed all day over there!

9. Oh and if you love Pinterest (and come on- who doesn’t?) check out Deep South Mag’s Pinterest page!

Happy Reading!