Newman’s Alumni Association is pleased to announce that the 2018 recipient of the Distinguished Alumna Award is Ms. Ti Adelaide Martin ’78. Award-winning restaurateur, author, speaker, philanthropist, and advocate for New Orleans, Martin is one of the country’s most admired leaders in the hospitality industry, noted for her commitment to excellence and inexhaustible energy. Since 1997, she has served as co-proprietor of New Orleans’ famed Commander’s Palace restaurant with her cousin, Lally Brennan, continuing a legacy of quality in cuisine and service that is unsurpassed in the industry.
“In New Orleans, food is an experience. Few care more about the experience of fine dining than Ti Martin,” said Newman Alumni Association President Mike Mann ’97. “Ti maintains a standard of quality at Commander’s Palace that consistently raises the bar for restaurants nationwide, and she still finds time to serve our city in countless other ways. We are proud of her connection to Newman and thrilled to recognize her as our Distinguished Alumna.”
Dale Smith, Head of School at Newman presented Martin with the Distinguished Alumna Award during a small luncheon at Commander’s Palace. Also there by special invitation was Joanne Skertich, who was Martin’s volleyball coach and an important mentor during her days at the school. (Smith, Martin, and Skertich are pictured, left.)
Martin hails from the prominent Brennan family, which in addition to Commander’s Palace owns and operates several restaurants in New Orleans and the southern region. With her passion for food and people, and her expert management of one of the world’s most famous restaurants, she continues the legacy of her mother, Ella Brennan. In the years since Martin and cousin Lally Brennan assumed management of the restaurant, Commander’s Palace or its staff have won three James Beard Foundation Awards, seven Wine Spectator Grand Awards, and countless other honors and recognitions from organizations and media outlets spanning the globe.
“Ti Martin is a leader in the world of hospitality in the city that’s well known for it,” said Smith. “We are proud to call her our Distinguished Alumna and are grateful for her support of Newman.”
While at Newman, Martin was instrumental in starting the Girls Volleyball program alongside Coach Skertich. The team has since won 17 State Championships and is a perennial state contender. She credits her Newman education with instilling vital skills for business.
“I run a team now,” Martin said. “I learned that at Newman.”
Away from her restaurant, Martin is an energetic and admired civic leader in New Orleans. In the 1990s, she co-founded the New Orleans Proud to Call It Home campaign; she serves as finance chair for the multibillion-dollar terminal under construction at Louis Armstrong International Airport and is a 12-year member of the Aviation Board. An enthusiastic champion for the local hospitality industry, Martin is Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of NOCHI, a new 93,000 square-foot restaurant workforce training and development facility.
Martin has received numerous honors and awards including the James Beard Foundation Awards Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America (2018); New Orleans Magazine’s Restaurateur of the Year (2016); New Orleans City Business’ “Woman of the Year” Award (2011); and the Culinary Institute of America Hall of Fame (inducted 2008). She serves on the Board of the Idea Village; as a member of the Tulane University President’s Council and A.B. Freeman Business School Board; and as a member of the Board of Visitors at Xavier University of New Orleans.
Martin is the author of Miss Ella of Commander’s Palace, a book about her mother. On the heels of the book, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Leslie Iwerks released the documentary, Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table, which tells the story of the birth of the modern American food movement and captures both women’s philosophies on food, hospitality, and business. The film is now available on Netflix.