Thursday, September 8, 2011

Food Safety center plate in September

The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) joins with the National Restaurant Association (NRA) every September to highlight the importance of food safety. This year’s theme of National Food Safety Education Month was “Lessons Learned from the Health Inspection.” Throughout the month of September the LRA made it a priority to spread that message far and wide—from the classroom to international visitors.

ProStart® students are “inspected”
In early September, LRA ServSafe® instructor Barry Blue visited ProStart students at St. Charles Career Satellite Center in Luling to teach them the basics of serving food safely and keeping a commercial kitchen as sanitary as possible. Blue reviewed the components of the restaurant inspection and the many points restaurants are graded on during a sanitarian’s visit. A few weeks later, St. Charles ProStart Instructor Chef Patrick Phelan and his students decided to take the lesson one step further.

During the class’s busy “Café Day,” where students prepare a three course meal for visiting St. Charles Parish business leaders and government employees, one ProStart student posed as a sanitarian and, with clipboard in hand, “inspected” the ProStart kitchen while the meal was being prepared. This exercise simulated what a real kitchen would experience when a Louisiana Department of Health& Hospitals sanitarian appears unannounced at a restaurant or foodservice establishment. The students proved they had taken Blue’s presentation to heart, passing the inspection with a score of 93 percent.

China learns best practices
China’s search for food safety enhancements led a group of seven visitors to the U.S. late last month and one stop was to the LRA headquarters. The group, made up of professionals from the People’s Republic of China, specifically the Shanghai and Sichuan Provincial’s Food & DrugAdministration (FDA), and a reporter from the China Food Newspaper, heard a presentation on the LRA and the restaurant industry’s role in food safety management and compliance from LRA VPs Pam St. Pierre and Wendy Waren. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Monroe chef to compete for King of American Seafood

In competitive fashion, Louisiana holds a seafood cook-off in May to determine which chef will represent the state in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off. This year, it’s Saturday, August 6, 2011 at the Louisiana Foodservice EXPO, where chefs from 16 states will battle to become the King or Queen of American Seafood.

2011 Louisiana Seafood Cook-off
winner Cory Bahr.
The 2011 Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off winner hails from the Northern part of Louisiana—Monroe. Executive Chef and newly-crowned King of Louisiana Seafood Cory Bahr won the title with his North Delta Bouillabaisse and ALC caught up with him to find out what inspires him most in the kitchen.

ALC: What inspired your dish for the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off?

CB: I wanted to stay true to using what was available locally in the Northeast region of the state. I’m a firm believer in being a good steward of the land and sea. To me, sustainability equals availability, and access to seasonal produce and seafood for my customers is important.

ALC: What Louisiana seafood did you include in your North Delta Bouillabaisse?

CB: Fresh black drum, gorgeous Gulf shrimp, plumb oysters and sweet lump crab were the stars of the dish. I made a stock from the drum bones, shrimp shells and oyster liquor to give it a depth of Louisiana seafood flavor. Supporting cast of characters included fresh tomatoes, and fennel and Brussels sprouts from a friend’s garden.

ALC: What does it mean to you to represent Louisiana in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off?

CB: I’m an avid fishermen…seafood is my passion at work and personally. There’s no better state to represent and we are blessed with a long growing season for produce and a various fishing seasons.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Farm to fork effort grows in Louisiana

The spirit of Louisiana to support its own has positioned the state to be at the forefront of a movement in the culinary arts. While there’s been much reported on the concept of farm to fork, some Louisiana chefs have whole-heartedly embraced it offering seasonal ingredients on their menus year round.

SB 81 bill signing with Sen. Rick Gallot, Eldon Rogillio,
LRA President/CEO Stan Harris, Gov. Jindal, Sen. Mills
and La. Ag Commissioner Mike Strain.
In early May, LRA Past Chair Dickie Brennan arranged an educational field for chefs and farmers at the LSU Ag Center in Baton Rouge. The day’s events included a tour of the campus vegetable gardens, dairy and meat processing facilities, as well as group discussions on ways farmers, cattlemen and chefs could work towards a mutually beneficial relationship.

To steward this initiative, the Louisiana Restaurant Association has launched a survey which asks chefs specific questions about the types of produce and meats they’d like to see available in Louisiana’s portfolio of offerings. Delivery frequency, quantities, preferred method of payment and what type of restaurant respondents own are among the questions.

“We have so much potential in Louisiana to carry out important industry imperatives, particularly in the sustainability and food and healthy living arenas,” said LRA President/CEO Stan Harris. “With this initiative, Louisiana is posed to be a leader in actively sustaining not only our farmers and cattlemen, but also our fisheries.”

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Culinary students shine at ProStart Student Competition

The LouisianaRestaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) hosted the 10th Annual Louisiana ProStart® Student Competition, March 1-2, 2011 at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner. The competition showcased the culinary and academic talents of students from 21 high schools across Louisiana, and featured two primary components: the Culinary Competition and the Management Competition.

During the Culinary Competition, teams demonstrated their knife skills, poultry fabrication and creative abilities through the preparation of a three-course meal in 60 minutes, consisting of: a soup, salad or appetizer; an entrée with a protein, vegetable and starch; and a dessert.

Hammond High Magnet Academy ProStart team takes
first place in 2011 ProStart Student Competition.
The winner of the Culinary Competition was Hammond High Magnet Academy, led by instructor Patti Johnson and students Melissa Bass, Megan Gaudin, Jerrica Knox and Kaitlyn Maryman. The second place team was Salmen High School of Slidell, led by instructor Allison Armand and students Anthony Dillat, Lauren Hodgson, Kaila Mogg-Stone and Chris Moore. The third place team was Sulphur High School, led by instructor Cassady Hickingbottom and students Dustin Louviere, Desmond Lueck, Laura Maddox, Laci Oakman and alternate Maegan DeJean.

Teams participating in the Management Competition demonstrated their knowledge of the restaurant and foodservice industry by developing a restaurant proposal, delivering a verbal presentation, creating a visual display and applying critical thinking skills to challenges managers face in day-to-day operations.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rich with hisotry and flavor -- Tommy Cvitanovich

As a young boy, an eager Tommy Cvitanovich started his well-known restaurant career bussing tables in his aunt’s restaurant in New Orleans. Several years later in 1969, his parents—Drago and Klara—opened their own place in Metairie, aptly named Drago’s.  
Drago's Seafood Restaurant owner Tommy Cvitanovich
receives the Times Picayune Loving Cup Award for his
philanthropy. He also received the National Restaurant
Association's Restaurant Neighbor Award in 2006 for
his community service following Hurricane Katrina.
The young Cvitanovich started out as a “restaurant brat” as most in the restaurant industry—washing dishes, cooking and bartending. Few other than he can say they started out shucking delicious, plump Louisiana oysters.

Now 42 years later, “Tommy C” as he’s referred to by some of his peers, will serve as the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) chair, the top volunteer leadership position. Also, this year, Tommy will begin his term as a board member of the National Restaurant Association (NRA) representing Louisiana, alongside LRA Past Chair Dickie Brennan.

Settling in Southeast Louisiana
Although many Croatians settled in Southeast Louisiana since the early 19th century, the Cvitanovich family came to the area in a round about way. Drago and Klara met in New Orleans after separately fleeing war-torn Yugoslavia, now Croatia.

Klara’s father’s business was burned by the Germans during World War II, but that was only the beginning of her strife. The Communist secret police jailed her father, leaving her mother to raise her three daughters with no income. An aunt who lived in New York assisted the family by sending money and care packages.