André Begnaud was born and raised in Cajun country, Lafayette, Louisiana, where everyone cooked. Later, he was a performing musician living in Los Angeles and hired a catering firm for an event he was involved in, but the caterer did not show and André cooked it himself. In 1985, he decided to change his life, so he jumped on his motorcycle and drove to New Orleans where he attended Delgado Community College. He graduated with a degree in culinary arts and apprenticed in a hospital kitchen and as a cook at Restaurant Jonathan. He met Great Chef Emeril Lagasse at Commander’s Palace, and Emeril talked him into attending his alma mater, Johnson & Wales University, in Providence, Rhode Island. While there, he worked at Great Chefs Johanne Kileen and George Germon’s Al Forno Restaurant, also in Providence. Upon graduating, he returned to New Orleans to work at Mr. B’s Bistro, then in 1990 he joined Chef Lagasse.
In 1992, he moved with Chef Emeril to Emeril’s first restaurant that he would own, Emeril’s, in the New Orleans Warehouse District, where Chef André was sous chef. In 1993, the Great Chefs television crew showed up to tape Chef Begnaud for the Discovery Channel’s television series, the Louisiana New Garde, where he appeared in episode # 25.
Chef Begnaud moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1994 as executive chef of Café Oceana and in 1996 at Scalo Northern Italian Grill. In 1999 he moved to Schnectady, New York to open his own Mello Joy Café. He retired several years later due to health issues, and still lives in upstate New York.