The last day of French Quarter Fest was just as gorgeous as the first 3. Sadly, for locals, the day started with the sad news that former Saint, Will Smith, had been shot 7 times leaving 3 children and a wife (who sustained 2 shots) behind. He had posted on Instagram, “Having a blast at the #fqf2016” earlier. Many of us wore Saints gear and checked for updates as the story evolved from one of random violence to something more thought-out and personal.
As for festing, we started the day with a Softshell Crab Po-Boy ($10) from Jack Dempsey’s then tried Love at First Bite’s Crawfish Pasta ($8) and my favorite, the Cochon de Lait Po-Boy ($8) from their partner, Walker’s Southern Style BBQ. We hit the Abita stage in time for party-band, the Bucktown All-Stars. Their playful covers included “Rubber Band Man” complete with a dance of silly, stretchy poses. 85 year old Joyce La Nasa joined on tambourine wearing her signature white gloves. Continue reading
United Way‘s Got Gumbo? is one of my favorite annual events. A tasty gathering of over a dozen competing restaurants, the event is hosted in the Royal Sonesta by General Manager Mr. Alfred Groos, creator of Got Gumbo? Participants compete for Best Traditional Gumbo, Best Seafood Gumbo, Best Exotic Gumbo and Best Vegetarian Gumbo as well as the People’s Choice for Best Dessert, Best Float (decorated table display) and Best Gumbo. Multiple chefs compete in multiple categories – each offering their very best – it’s like going to “gumbo heaven” complete with fun table displays and charitable gumbo-lovers (United Way receives the $25 ticket price as well as the bar). Continue reading
This was my 5th Got Gumbo? event benefitting the United Way and it’s one of my favorite annual evenings. At the Royal Sonesta, 15 restaurants provided up to 4 dishes each to compete for Best Traditional Gumbo, Best Seafood Gumbo, Best Exotic Gumbo and Best Vegetarian Gumbo as well as the People’s Choice for Best Dessert, Best Float (decorated table display) and Best Gumbo. That’s 15 restaurants, each with multiple chefs, competing in up to half a dozen categories each so you can eat yourself silly surrounded by fun table displays and charitable gumbo-lovers (United Way receives the $25 ticket price as well as the bar). And, of course, there’s a band – Rick Trolson’s New Orleans Po’Boys. Continue reading
For me, one of the benefits of working in film and TV is getting to judge contests. So far, I’ve judged a beauty pageant in Mississippi, the Royal Sonesta’s Greasing of the Poles and last year’s gumbo contest at Valero. As much as I enjoy beautiful women, I was thrilled to be asked back to Valero this year. Gumbo, the official dish of Louisiana, is my favorite metaphor for New Orleans – a melting pot where each ingredient added is meant to retain its original flavor. Even the history of the dish is a trip through the many cultures that have come to this city and the traditions they’ve added to our stew. Continue reading
Raintree Children and Family Services hosted it’s annual “Paint the Town Green” gala last week benefitting foster children (as well as children with disabilities) and the families who care for them. Big donors were first treated to a Patron Party at Ruth’s Chris Steak House before joining us in the grand Harrah’s Theatre. We milled around checking out auction items before diving into the long buffet provided through the generosity of local restaurants including Arnaud’s with their refreshing Shrimp Remoulade, GW Fins – who again reprised their super-popular subtly flavored Lobster Dumplings and Bread Pudding from the Royal Sonesta’s Desire Oyster Bar.
Gumbo is the perfect metaphor for our city, our music and our culture – all of the ingredients work together without ever losing their individual flavors. This was my 4th United Way’s Got Gumbo? at the Royal Sonesta but the contest has been running for 14 years. I had a friend visiting from out of town who’d been here a week and hadn’t eaten anywhere outside of his hotel and national chains. He joined us and got to taste over 20 restaurants competing in 4 categories of gumbo: traditional, seafood, exotic and vegan. Way to make up for lost time! Continue reading