“We Live to Eat”
Ill Winds Don’t Deter Appetites
by Springfield Lewis/Louisiana Seafood News
No hurricane – Category 1 or not – can blow away the Bayou State’s appetite for beignets or fresh seafood.
Folks might be a bit shaken after Isaac, but the Louisiana shrimp boil still is being stirred.
With knives and forks in hand, the New Orleans Chapter of the Louisiana Restaurant Association and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Boardare serving up Louisiana Seafood Restaurant Week right on schedule.
It begins Monday, September 10th, and runs through the 16th – with the theme “We Live to Eat.”
And what better place to spread the news than at the National World War II Museum’s Stage Door Canteen, where film legend Bette Davis served GIs desserts.
“The Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board has been a big supporter of anything restaurant,” said organizer Octavio Mantilla, general mangager and co-owner of Besh Restaurant Group.
“This is a slow tourist time in the city, and restaurant week offers a great opportunity for locals to enjoy Louisiana’s best seafood at a discounted price.”
Wonderful, Indigenous Seafood
Fellow restaurant owner Tommy Cvitanovich, owner of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, agrees. “We are spoiled here in Louisiana. We have some of the most wonderful, indigenous seafood available in our restaurants
“New Orleans is not the first city to start the restaurant tradition. Denver and Miami are the two top cities that have been running the program for years. It is a shame New Orleans is up not there – yet.”
In spite of Hurricane Isaac, Cvitanovich thinks that in a couple of years New Orleans will be right there at the top of the list.
This is the event’s second year, and the second time the Louisiana Seafood Board is the lead sponsor.
During the kick-off ceremonies, the Louisiana Restaurant Association gave a surprise award of special recognition for leadership and distinguished service to Seafood Board chairman Harlon Pearce.
“There is nobody that has been a stronger advocate for the seafood industry and our fisheries than Harlon,” said Stan Harris, president and chief executive officer of the Louisiana Restaurant Association.
“The work that Harlon and the seafood board do for restaurants and tourism is key to our success.”
Friends of the Fishermen
This year, the association’s Greater New Orleans Board of Directors is adding a charitable component, donating a share of the proceeds from the culinary event to the Friends of the Fishermen fund.
Recognized by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, contributions to Friends of the Fishermen support the state’s fishermen “in their greatest time of need,” and directly help “sustain Louisiana’s culture, heritage and way of life,” according to its website.
“Hurricane Isaac halted fishing in some of the same communities devastated by the oil spill,” said Harris about the importance of seafood
“Their products help to create the cuisine that puts Louisiana restaurants and chefs on the map and their fishing communities drive our unique culture. The availability of fresh seafood is a huge driver of our states culinary tourism.”
Special Prix Fixe Menus
The turnout at Friday’s media conference numbered more than 75, which included owners and chefs from among the more than 30 participating restaurants.
Represented were the city’s top chefs, including event founder Chef Duke LoCicero, owner and chef at Cafe Giovanni.
“We will be featuring our three-time, gold medal award-winning Voodoo Shrimp,” said the chef. “It is a taste treat that must be experienced. We cover jumbo shrimp, size 10-15, with an unbelievable sauce.”
His restaurant also will be serving soft-shell crab, as well as Oysters Giovanni – a dish the chef says you have to see to believe. “It looks like a stained glass window comprised of special sauces, all topped off with fresh Louisiana oysters.”
During Restaurant Week, participating restaurants in the New Orleans metro area will offer special prix fixe menus – offering diners 25 percent off the regular price. A two-course lunch will cost $20 and a three-course dinner $35.
Oh, there will be a catch (of the day), however. Since Louisiana Seafood is the title sponsor, each eatery will feature at least one Louisiana seafood dish.
Cuisine – Part of Who We Are
In promoting this event, the association’s local chapter puts it this way: “In New Orleans, we don’t eat to live – we live to eat. Cuisine is a part of who we are.”
That being the case, please pull up a chair at a participating fine-dining establishment or neighborhood restaurant. Savor and save, all at the same time.
And more important, contribute to a great cause – with just one bite.
Well, maybe make that two or three. No sense rushing a good thing.
Chef Duke’s Voo Doo Shrimp