New Orleans Thanksgiving 2020: Socially distanced Creole Oyster Dressing

Below is the Oyster Dressing recipe I’ve prepared since 2006. It was recorded at the elbow of my cousin Velma, then 93. At 4-foot-10, still whip-smart and eternally feisty, she bossily instructed me in “the right way” to prepare the family dressing for an “authentic Creole New Orleans Thanksgiving.” Her recipe cards and everything else she’d owned were stolen a year before “by that hussy Katrina,” her sobriquet for the hurricane. The recipe she passed down that day, first prepared by her family in the 1800s, had been committed to memory during Prohibition.

Magazine Street welcomes new take on Thai from BRG restaurant group

 

Jimmy Cho, the chef and owner of the Cho Thai — a recent addition to Magazine Street in the Irish Channel — has operated the West Bank favorite Banana Blossom since 2009. One of the repeat customers at that Thai fusion restaurant happened to be a partner at BRG Hospitality, the rebranded John Besh group whose holdings include August, Pizza Domenica and Shaya. He liked the food at Banana Blossom so much he approached Cho joining the BRG’s restaurants. Cho signed a contract with BRG in November 2019, and the redesign of the interior space at 3218 Magazine St. was set to begin in the new year.

In the middle of a pandemic, this Uptown restaurateur opens a second eatery

Things got off to a very confusing start in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic for Tal Sharon. His restaurant, Tal’s Hummus, on the corner of Magazine and Bordeaux, specializes in Israeli street food, and like other business, it went through a period of turmoil. After the pandemic hit, things were unclear from all perspectives – from the supply chain to the regulations to the customers. And then there was the instituting of all the protective equipment and protocols to keep both employees and the public safe. “After two or three weeks, things normalized to the point that we were able to at least survive – to keep our doors open and keep our employees,” said chef and owner Sharon (pronounced Sharr-rhone).

Paradigm Gardens offers bumper crop of activities on Sunday mornings

The Paradigm Gardens Plant Sale, held Sunday mornings in the shadow of the Pontchartrain Expressway in Central City, offers not just pots of herbs and tomatoes but a chance to enjoy an outdoor, socially distanced brunch and concert. The brunch on Sunday (Oct. 11) included food from Coquette restaurant and the vocal stylings of Robin Barnes. Plus, goats — all in a gorgeous garden. The sale of the plants and brunch items helps finance the Paradigm Gardens School — the only K-12 garden school in Louisiana.

New York pizza coming to NOLA Brewing on Tchoupitoulas

New Orleans Lager & Ale Brewing Co. — the folks who brought us NOLA Brewing craft beer, Sparkling Hop’d Tea and NOLA Hand Sanitizer — is expanding its Uptown offerings with its own brand of pizza. The pizzeria is slated to open Nov. 1 with traditional New York style pizza served in the Irish Channel taproom, which includes expanded outdoor dining space. The pizzeria will take over the spot formerly occupied by McClure’s Barbecue.

Viewpoint from a chef and restaurateur: ‘We don’t know what our future is’

The following “Open Letter to NOLA” was posted on social media by Eric Cook, the owner and executive chef of Gris-Gris, a restaurant on Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District. It was addressed to “our friends, neighbors and family” and is published here with permission. As you know, we’ve been trying to fight the good fight through the past few months. Gris-Gris was one of the first restaurants to shut down when this whole thing began. We’ve been trying to keep everyone safe and do our best to keep our little corner of Magazine Street alive and well so we can keep doing what we love, and bring love to you guys every single day.

Vino Wine and Spirits is uncorked on South Carrollton

The once bare white walls of a South Carrollton Avenue storefront are now highlighted by bottles of red, white, rose and sparkling wines from France, the U.S., Spain and Italy, along with some select local and global spirits. If those walls could talk, they would tell of the journey Vino Wine and Spirits took, including delays due to COVID-19 pandemic regulations and the cyber attack on City Hall, as they were navigating the already arduous permitting process. Then there was the card reader that wasn’t going to arrive in time for the opening, and then when it did, it was in pieces to be assembled. The good news is that a new chapter began the last week of June, when Vino Wine and Spirits welcomed its first customers, card reader be damned. Vino Wine and Spirits is the realization of a dream of Allyson and Milton Hernandez.

The students and instructors at Nicholls University hold many of their lessons in the Lanny D. Ledet Building funded by Benny Cenac of Houma.

Nicholls State University: Benny Cenac, Houma businessman, and the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute

The smell of sautéed shallots, butter browning, and sugar caramelizing hits your nose the moment you walk down the halls of Nicholls State University’s Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, the only post-secondary institution in Louisiana offering a four-year culinary degree. Your mouth is watering before you even see the state-of-the-art kitchens donated by Arlen “Benny” Cenac—Houma businessman and owner of Cenac Marine, Main Iron Works, Houma Machine and Propeller, and Golden Ranch Farms. Back in 2015, as soon as Benny Cenac learned that construction of the school’s new culinary arts building might not move forward due to lack of funding, he knew he had to act fast. The school needed additional funding to receive the match from the state of Louisiana to complete the cooking school renovations. Benny, ever the Cajun food aficionado and proud Nicholls alum, recognized the cultural, historical, and economic impact the culinary program had on both the local university and in keeping South Louisiana culinary traditions alive. 

In 2015, Benny Cenac made a very generous donation in honor of his long-time employee and friend, Lanny D. Ledet, that led to the creation of a 33,000 square foot state-of-the art culinary facility, complete with six kitchens, lecture rooms, and a student study lounge. The Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building even features a full-size, 96-seat restaurant called Bistro Ruth, named in honor of New Orleans restaurateur Ruth Fertel.

Krewe behind Feed the Front Line launches Feed the Second Line

From the Krewe of Red Beans

Krewe of Red Beans, Rouses Markets, the Preservation Hall Foundation, Market Umbrella and the New Orleans Musicians Clinic & Assistance Foundation are partnering for a new effort to ease the pain of the pandemic, the Feed the Second Line program

On March 17, the Krewe of Red Beans, a group that holds a Lundi Gras walking parade, began raising money to buy food from locally owned New Orleans restaurants. Quickly, the effort grew. A month later, the Krewe of Red Beans was operating the largest such effort in the United States. As of April 19, the Feed the Front Line NOLA had sent over 60,000 meals to doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers engaged directly with COVID-19 patients, spending $566,000 in the local economy so far. 49 restaurants and coffee shops are being supported by the initiative.

How are Magazine Street businesses doing? Part 2: Restaurants, bars, coffee shops

For Part 2 of this two-part series on Magazine Street, Uptown Messenger takes a snapshot of restaurants, bars and coffee shops in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. (Part 1 focused on local shops and galleries.)

Along Magazine Street, a gastronome can sample French, Indian, Vietnamese, Cajun, Creole, Chinese and homegrown flavors in myriad restaurants that dot the six-mile stretch. Bars, an important part of New Orleans social life and culture, can be temples of cocktail culture or beloved neighborhood hangouts. Coffee shops offer places to relax, visit, study or work and have their own individual vibes. Along with the mix of retail stores, these businesses have made Magazine Street a popular destination for tourists and locals.