In a hit-and-run accident with an SUV, the chef and cyclist of Coquette breaks his leg after the first solo shift | Where NOLA eats

November 21 had been a great day. Kelsey Carter spent 11 hours in the kitchen of the famous Coquette restaurant on Magazine Street. She had recently been promoted from chef to executive chef, and her first solo kitchen shift had gone well.

The 29-year-old transplant from New Orleans was tired, as always, but thrilled to be returning home to Bywater and sharing her experience with her partner Laura. Usually she would take off her work clothes and put on stretchy sportswear for the 25-minute bike ride through Uptown, the Warehouse District, the CBD, the French Quarter, and Marigny, all of the distinct neighborhoods she had loved since she was. moved to New Orleans.

But it was a little chilly, so Carter kept his jeans on. Which may have been a very lucky decision.

It was Sunday and late at night so there weren’t a lot of cars to contend with. As Carter walked down Camp Street in the right lane, she didn’t realize the dark SUV was approaching from behind. At Girod Street the light was green and Carter had right of way, so she continued through the intersection. Then suddenly, she said, the SUV passed by her, as the driver attempted a quick right turn in its path.

Despite her well-lit bicycle and reflective helmet, Carter said she felt invisible. The cyclist crashed into the back of the SUV as he sped down rue Girod.

“There was no time to deflect or deflect,” Carter said, “it was instantaneous.”

Carter said she took the street behind the SUV and drove onto the sidewalk. She expected to appear and brush her teeth.

“I thought, ‘Well, that was awful’, but I felt good. “

She was not well.

Carter grew up in Florida. She studied Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University in Miami. Then she moved to Seattle and, in five years, made her way to the position of sous chef at a respected new American-style restaurant.

Seattle was cool, but Carter said maybe it was “a little too big, too technical, and too fast” for her liking. She and Laura wanted to live “somewhere that suited our speed and lifestyle,” she said. New Orleans’ avant-garde culture, neighborhood vibe and, of course, the legendary food scene appealed to the two young women, and in August 2020, Carter said, they “took the plunge.”

In just a few months, Carter found work at Coquette, which she says is one of the best restaurants in a big restaurant town. In November, when the former chief executive left, Carter got the job, with a 25% pay rise. Coquette owner Michael Stoltzfus said Carter had never been one of those arrogant careerists, but “his talent and seriousness for his craft was palpable.”

Going out to the bar during dinner at Coquette Restaurant on Magazine Street in New Orleans in 2017.

In her new role, also known as a chef, Carter said, she would have more influence over the menu and lead the staff. The promotion was a big, big step towards Carter’s ultimate goal of opening his own home.

During her first solo shift as an executive chef, there had been “a lot of assertiveness” from her colleagues, she said. “There was a good, positive buzz all around. “

But, as she sat on the sidewalk of Camp Street after being cut and colliding with the SUV, that positive buzz evaporated.

Coquette: a first-class restaurant in New Orleans, on the edge of the Garden District (copy) (copy)

Coquette Restaurant in the Garden District

Carter said she got scared when she realized she couldn’t get up. “My foot was swaying a bit,” she said. “I realized my leg was broken, my knee was not where the rest of my leg was. I was not physically able to get off the road.

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The driver of the SUV didn’t stop to see if she was okay.

“I was shocked to realize the car was still moving,” she said.

Surely, she thought, the driver had seen her as he or she turned and the driver had surely heard the impact.

Fortunately, not everyone was so indifferent. Carter said another cyclist named Byron immediately stopped to help. He did his best to reassure her as he continued to pull away from traffic. Two motorists stopped overnight to lend a hand.

In the end, Carter was surrounded by five Good Samaritans, who managed to get her off the street and call 911. As soon as she was safe on the sidewalk, Carter called Laura, who rushed to the streets. places in his van before the ambulance arrived and quickly drove his partner to the nearby Tulane Medical Center.

Carter said she is a little vague about some of what happened in the emergency room, due to the shock and the pain relievers. But she remembers that the nurses were very concerned that her broken shin was kept still so that it did not pierce the flesh. Who knows, Carter’s decision to wear solid jeans that night might have helped prevent even worse injuries.

Over the next 24 hours, Carter said his leg was rigidly wrapped, reset, repackaged, and given what the hospital called an external fixator – one of those orthotics with metal rods pierced through the body. skin and screwed into the bone. Fortunately, the CT scans revealed no other injuries. At one point during her stay in the hospital, she spoke to the police, but she didn’t have a lot of information to offer. She had not noted the license plate number of the SUV.

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Since the sinking, Carter said she was mostly confined to the rented hospital bed on the first floor of her home. She spends the time listening to real crime podcasts, watching the Food Network, and reading. She would like to use her free time to learn more about restaurant accounting and other non-physical aspects of her profession. His mother came to help him twice.

“Right now, I’m just focusing on rest and maintaining my sanity,” Carter said. “I get waves of frustration when tears come to my eyes, when I’m overwhelmed,” she says, but she hasn’t slipped into depression. “Everyone who came to visit me said that my character seemed too happy and bright,” she said.

Carter said she was “extremely lucky” that the restaurant provided good insurance and continues to pay her salary while she recovers. She had very little savings, so she set up an online Gofundme donation site to help pay for all the co-payments and additional costs associated with her injury, which she says will be around $ 15. $ 000.

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In early December, Carter learned she was due for another surgery. The good news is, if all goes well, she could be back in La Coquette’s kitchen in four or five months, speeding up dinner. And by this time next year, it could be like new.

By then, Carter is facing tons of physical therapy, of course. But it is tough. She ran a half marathon on Halloween, worked out regularly at the gym and, of course, rode her bike to work.

If possible, she can eventually run and train again, but cycling in traffic is probably a thing of the past.

“To keep all of my loved ones happy, not jumping on a bicycle is a better decision,” she said.

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