Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dishing with ProStart Mentor: "The Rice Lady"

Over a BBQ Shrimp poboy at the Mid City neighborhood joint Luizza’s By the Track, Jazzmen Rice Director of National Events Nina Camacho dishes about her love of the industry and how she found herself promoting a strain of rice developed in Louisiana.

Nina Camacho, or “the Rice Lady,” as she is affectionately referred to by those in the restaurant industry, has spent the last three years promoting Jazzmen Rice, a variety of exclusively-designed aromatic rice developed by the LSU AgCenter. With a background in the grocery business working for Proctor and Gamble, Camacho was tapped to take the brand to a larger audience through retail channels which include many Louisiana restaurants.
Lake Shore High School ProStart student proudly show
their Jazzmen Rice courtesy of mentor Nina Camacho.
The LRA Education Foundation has tapped her as a mentor for the Louisiana ProStart Program to share the basics of rice preparation and how to select a grain that complements their culinary creativity.

“My favorite thing about being an LRA member is being able to mentor ProStart students,” said Camacho. “The students are so eager to learn, are a captive audience and are interested in how to properly prepare rice, a base for many of their dishes.”

Since last fall, she has made appearances at five different ProStart programs and she feels strongly that working with young culinarians is seeding loyalty for Jazzmen Rice for years to come.  
“A person’s opinions and preferences are being determined in high school,” Camacho added. “I have the chance to share the whole story of a product I truly believe in and they are so receptive.”

She also takes her program to Nicholls State University’s John Folse Culinary Institute each semester, as well as Louisiana Culinary Institute, Delgado Community College's Culinary Arts and Hospitality program and soon-to-be presenting to student in the UNO School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism.
“It’s a really great experience to work with high school students that have an interest in pursuing a career in the restaurant industry,” she said. “For only one hour of month, you can show your passion for your restaurant or supplier business. It is really worth it to grow the awareness of the industry as a career path.”

If you or someone you know in the industry is interested in inspiring the future of Louisiana’s restaurant industry as a mentor of the ProStart program, please contact ProStart Coordinator James Blanchard, at (504) 454-2277 or

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