Recent C-CAP Grad Shares the Secrets of his Recipes for Success

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

One of our favorite ways to kick off the summer is to check-in with a recent high school graduate. We asked Eubene Kim, who graduated from Chatsworth Charter High School in Los Angeles, to share a little more about his achievements this past year.

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How did you come up with the idea for your winning recipe for the Meatless Monday competition?
The theme was a burger recipe and many ideas ran through my head for a healthy, yet delicious recipe. Coming from a Korean background, I wanted to revolve my recipe around the culture that shaped my taste. The most iconic Korean side dish known all around the world is kimchi. Because kimchi is very nutritious I looked at many different ingredients that go well with kimchi. Using the recipe of a kimchi stew known as Kimchi Chigae, I used tofu as my base to add the proteins that meat is known for. Figuring out what works best with kimchi and tofu, I used traditional ingredients, spinach, mushrooms, onions, and garlic to enhance the taste and give a taste that screams Korean.

Can you describe your experience in winning a scholarship to attend the Culinary Institute of America?
Being able to have the opportunity to be a part of C-CAP has been a life changer. Without the support of the wonderful C-CAP Los Angeles staff and my teachers, Paul Lauten and Ramon Douglas, preparing for the competition wouldn’t have been possible. During the competition I was overwhelmed with doubt after seeing my fellow competitors and newly formed friends, but realized that there is no room for doubt if I give my 110% effort. Finding out that I received a scholarship to attend the Culinary Institute of America blew my mind. I have no other words than words of thanks for the people who believed in me and support my future.

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What advice do you have for other kids who are going to compete for scholarships in the next couple years?
Although my experience with C-CAP may seem like it went smoothly, I did face many difficulties. Procrastination was always a problem for me. Events with either friends or family kept me from seeing the real picture. Some advice I would give to future C-CAP students would be to learn to prioritize your schedule and to always have room for yourself to rest and to practice. Being able to give yourself time to rest prevents you from being stressed. Trust me…if you think your life is stressful right now, wait till you’re finally working in the kitchen. Also immerse yourself in the art of cooking to constantly open yourself to the various culture and foods. If you want to be a chef, you can’t be picky with food.

The Number One Reason You Drink Rosé

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

By Guest Blogger, Amy Wickstein, Development Manager

The results are in…when polled on social media, you reported that you drink rosé because it reminds you of summer. It’s refreshing, it’s pink, and it can be served chilled. Here at C-CAP, we know we’ll be kicking off the summer with rosé from The Drop Wine in NYC on Bar Hugo’s rooftop next Monday.

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It’s no surprise that rosé wine sales are growing ten times faster than overall table wine, according to a January 2015 Nielsen report. Shyda Gilmer, COO of New York retailer Sherry-Lehmann, explains that rosé sales have continued to grow by double digits in the last five years and he anticipates the same growth in 2016.

Interestingly, rosé’s supply can, for the most part, meet its growing demand. (Phew!) Unlike a lot of wines, most rosés are meant to be poured the year they are made. This makes it easier for wine makers and distributors to stay current with its increasing popularity.

If you want to learn about this delightful, pink beverage and how it’s made, look to Wine Folly for a concise, easy to understand summary.

As Eric Asimov reminded us in his New York Times column last week: “As usual, serve chilled but not ice-cold. And try not to track sand into the house.” Cheers to that!

 

Stay tuned…

The Heirloom Primer: Five Things You Need to Know About Heritage Seeds

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

By Guest Blogger, Carla Seet

There’s a magical quality to a family heirloom. Whether it’s an object passed down through generations or something stumbled upon at an antique store, it comes with a story attached and connects us to our heritage and collective past. While you’ve likely heard of heirloom tomatoes, you may not have thought about what makes them “heirlooms.” So we are here to tell their story.

Growing heirloom, also known as heritage, produce may seem like the hip new way to garden, but what we now distinguish as organic farming and gardening was actually the norm for many growers, including many of our grandparents, for centuries prior to industrialization. Passing down the family heirloom seeds was common practice, and many families had their own varieties of vegetables and fruits, giving us amusing tomato varieties like Aunt Ruby’s German Green and Box Car Willie!

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As we transition back to the old (out with the new), here’s what you need to know about the heirloom revolution!

  1. Heirloom seeds are super old. Heritage seeds are old seed varieties created by centuries of open-pollination by birds, insects, wind, or other natural means. They are often passed down through generations in a family, but can also be obtained from companies or local farmers. Some in the seed saving community say a seed must be at least 100 years old to be considered an heirloom, while others say it must have originated before widespread plant hybridization in the wake of World War II.

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  1. There are major differences between heirloom produce and what you find on the supermarket shelves. The fruits and vegetables you typically find at the grocery store are more likely to come from hybridized or GMO seeds than heirloom seeds. Hybrids are created through cross-pollination of two different varieties of a plant. Scientists began experimenting with hybrid plants in the late 1800s, and by the early 1950s farmers predominantly grew hybrid crops. Why did they become so popular? Thanks to the advent of the supermarket, produce needed to be high yield, durable to withstand travelling long distances, uniform and aesthetically pleasing. Created for similar reasons, GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are made by genetically altering the plant’s DNA so that it has a longer shelf life or a higher concentration of specific nutrients that might be lacking in a region’s diet.
  1. We’re in the midst of an heirloom seed renaissance. While hybrid and GMO seeds once seemed to be a saving grace for farmers and consumers alike, there is now growing concern about the sustainability of the farming practices used to produce these crops and the possible long-term health consequences of eating them. On a worldwide scale, heirloom seeds and the genetic diversity of heirloom plants are crucial to obtaining global food security. Since heritage seeds have evolved in their specific regions over generations, they adapt easily to climate and soil variations in those regions unlike hybrid plants, which are engineered to produce the same product across a wide range of growing conditions. Therefore, heirloom seeds may be better able to thrive in times of draught, disease and pestilence.

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  1. Growing heirloom seeds may be better for farmers. The seeds inside heirloom produce can be saved and planted countless times over with nearly the same result. For most farmers this makes heirloom farming more stable and economical. Farmers who grow hybrid plants may have to buy seeds every year because the seeds from their crop may be sterile, produce an entirely different offspring, or contain no seeds at all. Thanks to generations of open-pollination, heirloom seeds have also evolved to be more resistant to disease and pests typical in the areas where they’re grown. This reduces the need for farmers to buy pesticides and prevents soil and water contamination from pesticide use and leakage.
  1. Eating produce grown from heirloom seeds may be better for you. Heirloom produce most often is grown organically and benefits from maturing in soil uncontaminated by pesticides. It often contains more minerals from healthy soil and more overall nutritional value than hybrid and GMO produce. This higher concentration of nutrients and minerals can actually makes heirloom produce much more flavorful.

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Young farmers are challenging the idea that a vegetable is a vegetable is a vegetable. They’re working hard in the fields to provide us eaters with top quality, delicious, beautiful, seasonal produce while preserving history at the same time. The heirloom movement has also expanded beyond produce to heritage meats and now it’s moved on to ancient grains.

Stay tuned for more on how the history of wheat has effectively mirrored the history of agriculture in the U.S.!

 

 

 

Eating Seasonally Just Got Easier

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

 

By Guest Blogger Eliza Loehr

Eighty-six percent of shoppers believe in the importance of seasonality, but only five percent of those polled know when blackberries are ripe for eating. Are they to blame? Knowing what produce is in season is hard. If all you have to go by is what’s in the supermarket, seasonality may seem like a myth. When you try looking up charts of what’s in season, you find extremely complicated wheels that are only accurate for certain climates. So, how can we make this simpler? By cheating.

We’re going to give you easy to remember guidelines to get you started. First, let’s break it down into the four main categories: spring, summer, fall and winter. Next, let’s use some common sense.

 

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SPRING

Main color: GREEN

A new year brings new growth. Seeds planted in late winter start to come up in the spring. This new growth becomes what’s in season: spring peas, ramps, asparagus etc. Have you heard of spring onions? The name is no coincidence; these are literally just young onions that are harvested in the spring before the bulb has had a chance to swell.

 

SUMMER copy

SUMMER

Main colors: RED, YELLOW

As the summer rolls in with its hot temperatures, things are looking pretty good in the fields! As with a hot day in the city, just about everyone crawls out of their hiding place and soaks up as much sun as they can get. Because of this, summer brings out all of those juicy, colorful fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, berries and bell peppers. Things that hit peak ripeness and then rot quickly are generally in season in the summer.

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FALL

Main colors: ORANGE, DARK GREEN

By the time fall comes, the growing season has had a long time to mature. The produce that will survive as the temperatures drop tends to be heartier and denser. Beautiful dark greens and deep orange colors take over the fields, as squash, kale and apples come into play.

WINTER

WINTER

Main colors: WHITE, PURPLE, GREEN

While some heartier greens like spinach and kale may grow in greenhouses, not much actually grows in the winter. When we talk about “winter produce”, what we’re mostly talking about are vegetables and fruits that store well. Just as humans have to layer up in the winter, produce with a thicker skin does better in storage. Onions, squash, cabbage and carrots can be stored for months in cool, dry places to grace our tables with some color over the gluttonous holiday season.

 

 

WHY SHOULD I EAT SEASONALLY?

Leaving the importance of supporting your local community aside, eating seasonal produce is not only good for your wallet, but also for your health and your taste buds. If farmers have to sell all of their asparagus before the season is over and the produce is past its peak, they will lower their price to help make that product move. Seasonal produce has a lot more flavor and more nutrients for two reasons. The first is that being in season means being at maximum ripeness. The second is that produce out of season comes from far away locations and is often grown with the intention of shipping well rather than tasting good.

 

We’ll leave you with an easier, visual guide to remembering the basics:
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How We Chose Our Competition Dishes: Mr. G Tells All

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

By Guest Poster Kieran Cawley, Events & Marketing Coordinator

Each year many of our students take part in the C-CAP preliminary and final competitions in the hope of securing scholarships to some of the finest culinary schools in the country. It is during these competitions that our students put all that they have learned into action, preparing four dishes that could propel them into the next phase of their culinary education.

Many of you will be familiar with the competition dishes, whether you have prepared them yourself under the watchful eye of our judges, or simply admired the finished results on our social channels. Earlier this week, I sat down with C-CAP Founder and Chairman Emeritus Richard Grausman (Mr. G) to find out the importance of each competition dish. Here are some of his words of wisdom on this topic:

French Rolled Omelet

The omelet has been a technique used by chefs for many years to demonstrate a base level of competency and dexterity when hiring for French kitchens. Every chef, at one point or another, will have mastered the technique of making the perfect omelet. For a high school student to show competency here demonstrates two things: practice and speed – both vital for culinary success.

Comp Omelet

Tomato, Cucumber and Bell Pepper Salad

Knife skills are the name of the game here. These skills are impossible to master immediately. Again, it takes practice, repetition and focus. Once in a professional kitchen, C-CAP students rarely have any problems learning the tasks that chefs ask of them. This is in large part due to students mastering knife skills while in high school with C-CAP.

Another important component of the salad is the vinaigrette. The vinaigrette helps students develop their sense of taste and understand the importance of seasoning. One extra drop of vinegar could create a whole new taste, so finding the right balance is the key.

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Now, moving on to dishes from the final competition…

Poulet Chasseur avec Pommes Château

The perfect shape and turning of the infamous tourné potato requires time and patience. Practice is the key to mastering this skill. As for the chicken, there are lots of ingredients used in creating the sauce for this dish. Attention to detail and timing are important here, as is using ingredients properly to achieve the right consistency. While creating a sauce is not a skill usually expected of an entry-level position in a professional kitchen, this experience takes C-CAP students’ knowledge beyond entry-level, giving them that all-important edge over any rivals!

Comp Chicken

Crêpes à la Crème Pâtissière avec une Sauce au Chocolat

There are many things to consider with this dessert – thickness and texture of the crêpe, flavor and smoothness of a properly cooked pastry crème, and consistency and shine of the chocolate sauce. When done right, this can be very delicious and impressive to a professional chef.

Comp Crepe

 

In short, the dishes and techniques are chosen to focus teachers on teaching their students skills needed for entry-level jobs. It’s always been C-CAP’s purpose to empower our young students to get jobs in good professional kitchens. ‘Practice makes perfect’ they say, and it seems Richard Grausman has found four dishes that offer exactly that!

 

 

 

From Farm to School

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Guest Blogger: Tammy Jaxtheimer, Program Director, Hampton Roads

Not many freshman at the Culinary Institute of America can boast a resume like 2015 C-CAP alum, Carson Moreland from Hampton Roads, VA. Farm to table may be on-trend, but it has been a way of life for Carson, having grown up working at his mom and step-dad’s The Leaping Lizard Café featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Prior to opening the café, Amy and Bill Prince operated Prince Produce. On the café property they have a greenhouse, gardens of fresh herbs and vegetables, and Amy recently became a beekeeper.

Prior to his CIA experience and wanting to ready himself even more, Carson smartly sought out award-winning chef-owner, Rodney Einhorn of Terrapin in Virginia Beach, a frequent visiting chef at the James Beard House. It is not unusual to see Einhorn at our local Old Beach Farmers Market selling his breads and granola or picking his own vegetables at a local farm in Pungo, the agricultural section of Virginia Beach.

When Carson realized that Einhorn had connections with Chef Vivian Howard, of the Chef & The Farmer restaurant in Kinston, NC, and the PBS series of the same name, he finessed a month-long stage in her kitchen before starting at the CIA. Carson reflects fondly upon the time he rose early to drive his car to Warren Brothers Farm to pick green onions and then travel back with the aroma of earth and sweet onions before cooking the beautiful product.

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Carson is hooked on “FTT” (Farm to Table for those out of sync with the internet age.) In his CIA Product Identification class, the chef allows the students to take home the products they have been handling to cook with them in their dorm. Carson often jumps at the chance to bring home ingredients that he may never have worked with such as swiss chard, enoki or shitake mushrooms.

Carson has taken Einhorn’s advice to heart with regards to getting involved right away at the CIA. He jumped right in to re-ignite the C-CAP Club and is a senator for the Student Government Association (SGA), secretary for Slow Food Club and a member of the Charcuterie Club. Remembering fondly his road trips to Warren Brothers Farm, Carson is excited about working with the SGA and the Slow Food Club on providing student opportunities to visit the nearby Rhinebeck Farmer’s Market.

On using fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and products, Carson sees it as a way to support the community and keep the carbon footprint a bit smaller. He firmly believes that local, homegrown produce is better for you, and better tasting, allowing the end product to be far superior.

When I asked Carson what he thought might be his next restaurant post, he shared that he might want to head to the West Coast to do his externship at fellow C-CAP alum’s restaurant Broadway by Amar Santana. If he is lucky enough to make that happen, he looks forward to learning about the farm-to-table abundance that Laguna Beach has to offer.

C-CAP Alum Shares Sweet Blessings with Entire Family

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Guest Blogger: Heidi Lee, Culinary Resource Specialist

There are innumerable blessings that come with motherhood; first steps, first words, school days, graduations and so much more. One can only guess how proud Maryann Hills is of her daughter, Theresé, for bringing her entire family together to open My Sweet Blessings Bakery & Bistro in Carefree, AZ.

Theresé attended Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, AZ and began culinary classes her senior year. Theresé’s instructor, Jennie Blomquist, must have sensed a diamond in the rough and insisted she enroll in the C-CAP program in 2008. After competing in the C-CAP Cooking Competition for Scholarships, she won the Barbara Fenzl scholarship.

Theresé went on to earn an associates degree from Scottsdale Community College and worked at Nothing But Noodles and The Herb Box. With C-CAP placement assistance, she then landed the position of Pastry Chef at The Four Seasons Troon North. After several years, she decided to strike out on her own and began selling lemon bars and cheese biscuits at farmers’ markets across the Phoenix metro area. To put it mildly, her baked goods were a hit!

The next logical step was to set up shop. What wasn’t all that logical (or expected) in this day and age was that her entire family jumped on board. Theresé, her 4 siblings and parents are the only employees of My Sweet Blessings Bakery. Her Dad, Joe, is an engineer and created the plans to build out the space; Mom now makes all the soups and her mother’s signature 60-year-old recipe is featured on the menu as Ann Louise Tuna Salad. Brother Andrew, who is also a C-CAP 2013 alum, works closely with his sister in the kitchen, and everyone else wears whatever hats are necessary to prepare outstanding food made with quality ingredients, lots of love and inspiration.

AZ Bakery Blog Photo CollageTop picture from left to right: Theresé Hills, Maryann Hills, Ashley Hills, Andrew Hills

My Sweet Blessings Bakery is located at 34250 N. 60th St., Scottsdale, AZ 85266 and is open for breakfast and lunch, Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. They also offer catering and, of course, wedding cakes.

www.mysweetblessingsbakery.com.
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How to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo, C-CAP Style

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

 

Guest Blogger: Keri Fisher

 

When C-CAP alum Sylva Senat appears on a special Cinco de Mayo-themed episode of Chopped on May 3, it may seem like a natural pairing. After all, he’s the owner of the hugely popular Dos Tacos in Philadelphia, recently named one of the best taco joints in the city by Philadelphia Magazine. But the Haitian-born Senat wasn’t always all about the tacos.

 

Senat graduated from his New York City high school in 1996 and has since traveled a decidedly international route to where he is today. He’s cooked Swedish food with Marcus Samuelsson at Aquavit, French with Jean Georges Vongerichten at Jean Georges, Asian at Stephen Starr’s New York outpost of Buddakan, and Indian at Philadelphia’s Tashan.

 

But on Cinco de Mayo, as Senat says, “we’re all from Mexico.” Senat wouldn’t reveal what themed ingredients he’ll cook with on May 3 (“Like you, I am anxiously waiting to watch,” he said), but he did share what he’ll be doing two days later on May 5: “This year I plan on having fun with a Barramundi fish special.” He’ll also take his staff out to celebrate with another Cinco de Mayo standard: “As Dos Tacos currently has no Tequila, we will be on the hunt!”

 

And after tacos and Tequila, there’s no better way to finish than with churros. “It takes some time to pipe these guys,” Senat concedes, “But it’s well worth the effort.”

 

Dos Tacos Churros with Spiced Mocha Sauce


Dos Tacos Churros
 

Spiced Mocha Sauce

1 cup milk

½ cup espresso beans

8 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

1 dried chili

 

Churros

1 teaspoon sugar, plus more for rolling

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Pinch of salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 large eggs

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

 

Vegetable oil, for frying

 

In a small saucepan bring the milk, espresso beans and chili to a boil and remove from heat instantly. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Strain the milk into a measuring cup, you should have about 5 ounces.

 

Wipe out the saucepan, return the milk to it and bring just to a simmer. Off the heat, stir in the chopped chocolate until melted. Whisk the sauce until smooth and transfer to a bowl. Keep warm.

 

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, salt and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Off heat, add the flour all at once and stir until incorporated. Scrape the mixture into a bowl. Using an electric mixer at medium speed beat in the eggs one at a time until smooth. Add the vanilla and citrus zests. Scrape the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip.

 

In a large saucepan, heat 2 inches of vegetable oil to 350°. Working carefully and quickly, pipe about eight 3-inch lengths of batter into the hot oil; use a knife to cut between the pieces. Fry over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. While they are frying, pour sugar on a plate in an even layer. Using a slotted spoon, lift out the churros and let drain for 10 seconds, and then transfer them to the plate of sugar and toss to coat. Repeat with remaining dough. Serve the churros with the mocha sauce.

Women Chefs: What’s Everybody Talking About?

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Guest Blogger: Anna Borgman

There’s been a lot of chatter lately about women chefs; why don’t they receive as much critical acclaim as their male counterparts? Do they face more obstacles on their way up the culinary ladder? Are they doing equally as amazing things, but the media just isn’t paying attention?

Like so many gender-related issues, there’s no simple answer, but to begin to understand the current conversation, let’s take a step back.  In most cultures, tradition dictated that a woman’s role was to tend the hearth and home, and she was the rare exception who ever set foot in a professional kitchen. But during the 19th and 20th centuries this began to change thanks to trailblazers like Eugenie Brazier and Les Mère LyonnaisesJulia Child and Alice Waters and perceptions of women in the professional kitchen began to shift.  Doors began to open. Opportunities began to take shape.

Today, we have a whole generation of women chefs carving their own paths in the industry like April Bloomfield, Kim Woodward and Christina Tosi, and not to mention, all of our powerhouse C-CAP alumnae, too. In fact, one of them, Giovanna Alvarez, winner of the C-CAP Daniel Boulud Scholarship to the Institut Paul Bocuse, is about to walk in the very footsteps of Chef Eugenie Brazier, herself at a two-week stage at La Mère Brazier in Lyon, France. Bonne chance, Giovanna!

It is through the hard and incredible work of these ladies in chef whites that the conversation about critical acclaim, barriers to success and media coverage is even happening. And while everybody has an opinion and we certainly don’t have the answers, we’re glad the conversation is going on and are happy to be a part of it.

Join the chatter with us on Twitter: #CCAPisCooking

Old Ways, New Orleans

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Guest Blogger: Eliza Loehr

New Orleans is a city surrounded by expectations. Visitors from around the world arrive expecting to see a city devastated by a storm, overwhelmed with revelers on Bourbon St., or bursting at the seams with its acclaimed cuisine.

On a recent visit, while harboring all of these expectations, I became fixated on one; what is the true New Orleans cuisine? I naively asked my aunt, a native of the Crescent City, this question. Raising her eyebrows, she paused before answering, “What do you think New Orleans food is?” What did I think New Orleans food was? Is it a refined etouffée? A rustic crawfish boil? What about the famous Po-Boy that can be filled with anything from meatballs to fried oysters? The truth, of course, is that it’s all of these things. It also happens to be very divided. Although an outsider has a hard time telling the difference between Cajun and Creole, the rift runs deep in southern Louisiana. While Creole was born in the city and Cajun in the country, the distinction seemed (to a New Yorker like me) to have more to do with the difference in dining experience than the difference in ingredients.

Creole

The deep history is clear from the moment you walk up to the teal blue and white striped awning of Commander’s Palace set in the quintessentially southern Garden District. We are guided through multiple, stunning dining rooms and ultimately land in what feels like the most elegant tree house in the world. The floor-to-ceiling glass walls showcase the deeply established trees that surround you. “Turtle Soup (takes three days to make!)”, reads the menu. Yup, we’ll take one of those! A seafood gumbo with an unparalleled depth of flavor is up next, followed by a perfectly caramelized crème brûlée topped with a powdered sugar fleur-de-lys that brought us back to the Creole youth we never had. While the 25-cent martinis initially felt out of place, the price seemed to suit the timeless feeling of the place. Out of the window to our right, chefs sit in the garden to plan the next day’s specials. To our left, three generations of a New Orleanian family dine on Creole Crawfish and Succotash. In the kitchen, the James Beard Award-winning chef, Tory McPhail, is teaching young chefs the lessons he’s learned over twenty years spent in this palace. Time stops here. Expectations are exceeded here. This is New Orleans, I think to myself.

New Orleans Blog Post Photo Collage

Cajun

Time does not stop in Cajun country. In fact, you can’t even count on the ground you’re standing on to be there in a few weeks. Katrina hit hard in this area, but global warming is hitting much harder. The Louisiana coastline is disappearing at the rate of a football field per hour. What you can count on, thankfully, is finding a crawfish boil within a mile of anywhere. Just outside of New Orleans’ city center, we found ourselves a roadside crawfish boil served straight out of a canoe. The carnal pleasure of twisting open spicy, tangy crawfish after crawfish is invigorating. The $1.25 beer doesn’t hurt, either. What do you do with the massive pile of shells? Toss them in the bayou, of course. The alligators will eat them. You think, ‘This is New Orleans’. But then you remember you just had that same thought, during a wildly different experience. New Orleans is, it turns out, whatever you expect to find there.

 

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