Randy Fertel is a writer and philanthropist dedicated to the arts, education, New Orleans, and the environment. Fertel holds a Ph.D. in English and American literature from Harvard University and is the author of A Taste for Chaos: The Art of Literary Improvisation (Spring Journal Books, 2015) and The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak: A New Orleans Family Memoir (University Press of Mississippi), now available in paperback.
Fertel has taught English at Harvard University – where he received a student-voted teaching award – Tulane University, LeMoyne College, and the New School for Social Research. He specializes in the literature of the Vietnam War and the literature of exile.
Fertel has been featured in People, Bloomberg, and Esquire and has contributed to The New York Times, NPR, Smithsonian, Kenyon Review, Gastronomica, Creative Nonfiction, The Journal of Modern Literature, Modern Language Quarterly, Victorian Poetry, Spring Journal, Tikkun, WLA, New Orleans Review, and The Huffington Post.
In addition to his writing, Fertel is president of the Fertel Foundation and the Ruth U. Fertel Foundation, named for his mother Ruth Fertel, founder of Ruth’s Chris Steak House. He lives in New Orleans and New York.
The Fertel Foundation
The Fertel Foundation supports the arts, education, and food culture and has a special interest in initiatives from which new communities and new insights may emerge and those that challenge entrenched communities of power. The Foundation has supported Artist Corps New Orleans, The Edible Schoolyard New Orleans, and co-founded, with the Nation Institute, the Ridenhour Prizes for Courageous Truth-Telling, named for My Lai whistleblower and investigative reporter Ron Ridenhour. The New Orleans-based foundation, established in 1999, also helps rebuild a better New Orleans – and create national models – in a post-Katrina world.
The Ruth U. Fertel Foundation
The Ruth U. Fertel Foundation – established in the will of Ruth’s Chris Steak House founder Ruth Fertel – supports education in Louisiana, including public, private and parochial schools; special programs designed to serve students from kindergarten through college; and other high-impact educational initiatives. It gave away $1.2 million in 2006 after Katrina largely to institutions that establish models of success that can be replicated in urban areas across the country. The Foundation supported the creation of Bistro Ruth at the John Folse Culinary Arts Center as well as Southern Foodways Alliance’s Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award.