Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Health Care options for the Hospitality Industry now available

The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) has partnered with UnitedHealthcare (UHC) to deliver cost-effective solutions that meet the unique needs of restaurant owners and their valued employees. The National Restaurant Association (NRA) first partnered with UHC to launch the Restaurant Health Care Alliance, offering a suite of products that will help nearly 13 million restaurant employees gain easier access to health care coverage and related products and services.

LRA President/CEO
Stan Harris
“Healthcare is one of the most important challenges facing our industry and our members are searching for answers and information,” said Stan Harris, LRA President and CEO. “The strategic partnership will help our members identify solutions to help them meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.”

With nearly 200,000 Louisianans employed within the restaurant industry, the LRA teamed up with UHC to provide large and small members with accessible and comprehensive wellness plans, featuring:

·         Medical, dental, vision and life insurance;
·         Access to UHC’s network of healthcare providers and services;
·         A range of wellness programs for groups and individuals;
·         A discount card for saving on an array of wellness products and services, including prescriptions;
·         Easy, online plan management with access to benefits, rates and real-time assistance;
·         Health management tools, including a medical encyclopedia, disease and condition centers, information on tests and procedures and a drug guide and interaction checker;
·         And compliance assurance for employers and employees.

As part of the NRA initiative, the LRA has chosen to work with UHC because of the wide range of innovative products and services the company offers that can meet the diverse needs of restaurant employers, employees and their families. For more information, visit

New Orleans Oyster Festival is June 1 & 2

We are overjoyed that it’s time for the New Orleans Oyster Festival, now in its third year. Celebrating the Gulf oyster will be easier than ever this weekend, as more than 20 restaurants (and Louisiana Restaurant Association members) will deliver a variety of dishes featuring the delicious, plump bi-valve to thousands of festival goers.

Whether you’ve grown up in Louisiana, or you’ve been around these parts for a while, you might have heard that indulging in Gulf oysters in months that don’t contain the letter “r” is ill advised. But oystermen, chefs and fans, beg to differ. In fact, Gulf oysters are at the peak of perfection during the month of June. Who knew? Well, we did and we can’t get enough.

Whether you desire an oyster poboy or the highly adored charbroiled oysters, the place to be this weekend is Woldenburg Park on the Mississippi River. If you’re daring to try something totally different, don’t miss shrimp and oyster eggrolls, oyster fois gras, pepper jelly oysters, oyster dressing stuffed mushrooms, oyster quesadillas and so many others.

Entertainment includes a slew of rockin’ bands and Saturday, join P&J Oysters for their Shucking Contest. On Sunday, the main event is Acme Oyster House’s Oyster Eating Contest. To close out the festival line up Sunday, the Gin Blossoms are playing. No doubt, their hit tune “Hey Jealousy” will be a popular one for your envious and not in attendance friends.

Until then, dream of the oyster and visit the festival site to plan your buffet of options.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Broad national energy coalition throws support behind Domestic Alternative Fuels Act of 2013

The Domestic Fuel Solutions Group (DFSG), a coalition of business, transportation, agricultural, food industry, dairy, livestock and state legislative interests seeking solutions to the problems plaguing US energy policies, is throwing its support behind the Domestic Alternative Fuels Act of 2013 (HR 1959), which was introduced in the House of Representatives today by Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) and Rep Jim Costa (D-CA) and sixteen congressmen from both political parties.  HR 1959 aims to amend section 211(o) of the Clean Air Act to allow the energy and fuel industries to use alternative feedstocks such as ethanol derived from natural gas to satisfy their obligations under the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

"The restaurant industry is concerned with our nation's energy policies and we believe we must make a strong effort to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and stimulate the growth of the alternative energy economy," said Stan Harris, Louisiana Restaurant Association President/CEO. "Expanding the conventional biofuels component of the RFS is the answer. This move will lower the price of ethanol by allowing a move away from corn ethanol production, which hopefully should reduce the escalation of corn prices and in turn the rising cost of beef and other food items."  

Currently the RFS limits the feedstocks that are eligible to produce conventional ethanol to renewable sources like corn.  But increasing mandates for corn ethanol, coupled with the recent drought and other weather-related factors, have put enormous pressure on corn supplies and prices, severely impacting the fuel, agriculture, livestock, transportation and food service industries and creating hardship for consumers who depend on affordable corn and fuel prices.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Orleans Lakefront Airport Terminal seeks proposals for food service occupants

Louisiana Restaurant Association members invited to tour the renovated Lakefront Airport, Friday, June 7 at 10 a.m. Interested individuals should submit their proposals by June 21.

The Lakefront Airport was built in the 1930's. At the time of it's grand opening it was considered an architectural masterpiece. Built by the same architect that designed the Louisiana state capital building, it was the first major airport in the region, and served proudly as a general aviation airport to this day. Inside the terminal building, travelers would find an Art Deco wonderland, featuring murals by artist Xavier Gonzalez, friezes by Enrique R. Alferez and an array of stone wall and floor treatments.

Much of the terminal's architectural flash was lost to a heavy-handed renovation in the mid-1960s that encased the building's exterior in cement panels and enclosed a second-floor balcony overlooking the grand lobby, the latter step creating room for a warren of offices for the Orleans Levee Board. The building sustained wholesale damage of another kind when it took on four feet of water as Hurricane Katrina pushed Lake Pontchartrain waters inland.

But all hope was not lost for the site. With $17 million in funding from FEMA earmarked for historic renovations, determined preservationists and architects, were able to return the space to its former glory.

Once upon a time, the Lakefront Airport was a popular spot for live music and special events and with its location on Lake Pontchartrain, the Non-Flood Protection Asset Management Authority is seeking proposals for the lease of the restaurant facilities and an agreement for special events at the newly-renovated Lakefront Airport Terminal. To download the RFQ&P, please visit the Airport's website.

The goal is to maximize use of the newly restored Lakefront Airport Terminal through a lease agreement with an experienced restaurant group for the exclusive on all business associated with the Walnut Room, the Bar and the Café, and opportunities to use the public areas in the Terminal on a per event basis as they pertain to catered special events.

The Walnut Room, the Bar area and the Café are the areas in the Terminal that will be      leased to the successful bidder and are described herein as the “leased premises.”

The successful bidder will also have the opportunity to host Special Events in the Atrium, Westside viewing deck and in designated areas on the second floor of the Terminal (the “public areas”) during periods when these public areas are available on a per event basis subject to a usage fee and other terms established by the Management Authority.

A pre-proposal tour of the Terminal Building will be held on Friday, June 7, 2013 at 10 a.m.  The deadline for submitting proposals is by 2 p.m. on June 21, 2013.  Any questions regarding the RFQ&P should be directed in writing to Louis J. Capo, Executive Director, NFPAMA,


Thursday, May 16, 2013

NRA launches cooking and baking certificates

The National Restaurant Association has launched two new post-secondary certificates for cooking and baking, developed in partnership with Pearson Education.  These industry-recognized, knowledge-based certificates are designed to confirm students’ understanding and comprehension of key cooking and baking principles.  
The exams were developed by a team of Subject Matter Experts from post-secondary academia and industry to ensure that these unique tests focus on the key concepts critical for success in the restaurant and foodservice industry.  Based on the objectives found in market-leading post-secondary textbooks, a detailed analysis of the course objectives was completed to identify the critical competencies required of a culinary arts student.  Employers can feel confident their new hires possess the core knowledge for success when they hold a cooking or baking certificate. 

“As the restaurant industry’s leading provider of training and certification for more than 40 years, the National Restaurant Association is expanding its post-secondary portfolio to help the industry’s workforce grow and succeed in a variety of areas within culinary and hospitality,” said Paul Hineman, executive vice president of the National Restaurant Association.

“Our new cooking and baking certificates serve as a strong indicator to employers that job applicants are well-versed in these core competencies. In addition, the certificates are a lasting recognition of a student's accomplishment and will help support them in their job search,” Hineman said.

The certificates are earned by culinary students who successfully pass two separate and distinct examinations.   The exams are sold exclusively by Pearson’s Professional and Career Higher Education Sales Team (colleges and universities) and Pearson’s Career and Technical Education Sales Team (K-12).

Similar to other NRA products, the exams can be administered online or offline (pencil and paper) — meeting the needs of instructors and students. Exams are to be administered in a proctored environment by a registered instructor. The NRA processes all exams with full assistance in administration, support and customer service. Pearson is responsible for the sale and distribution of the online exam vouchers and answer sheets.

For additional information, visit or

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Study not accurate portrayal of sodium reduction efforts

A study on sodium intake published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine does not indicate recent progress made by the foodservice industry in developing lower-sodium items for consumers, the National Restaurant Association’s director of nutrition said.
Joy Dubost, Ph.D., R.D.
National Restaurant Association
“Restaurants have made significant progress in developing lower-sodium menu options,” said Joy Dubost, Ph.D, R.D. “The industry is highly diverse, including restaurants that provide a wide range of dining options. On the whole, our members have evaluated their product lines to determine the areas in which sodium can be reduced and where existing menu items can be reformulated when feasible. They have considered lowering sodium levels as part of new product development. The industry’s proactive and ongoing efforts will better enable the gradual reduction of sodium in the food supply.”

The study, conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest from 2005 to 2011, found that sodium content in 402 processed foods declined by approximately 3.5 percent and increased 2.6 percent in 78 quickservice restaurant products.

The study claimed that the reduction of sodium levels in processed and restaurant foods has been “inconsistent and slow,” but the NRA’s Dubost said that using a small sample of just 78 quickservice restaurant products is not indicative of the strides made in lowering sodium levels in all restaurants’ foods.

“Only a small number of products were sampled from a limited number of brands, versus the thousands of menu items available to consumers,” she said. “The results do not accurately reflect all available choices, including those that are lower in sodium. In general, the results do not accurately reflect the overall availability of menu items including those that are top selling.”

Dubost noted the study did not capture new menu items that are lower in sodium because the study only compared the same items between 2005 and 2011. She also stated that, “Several of the largest quickservice and fullservice restaurant companies have made public commitments to significantly reduce sodium in their offerings over the next decade, but those commitments also are not reflected in the study.”

In April, the National Restaurant Association participated in a nutrition forum with the CSPI and the Grocery Manufacturers Association that addressed how the food industry is reducing sodium content in food products, the opportunities associated with continuing this progress and the technical challenges of achieving those reductions without sacrificing consumer acceptance.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines, no one should consume more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Vermilion Bay Sweet White Shrimp Gumbo Pack First Louisiana Certified Wild Seafood Product

In Cajun country it is all the about gumbo, especially seafood gumbo. Experienced chefs, at home or in restaurants, know a key ingredient in a seafood gumbo is having a proper sized fresh Louisiana wild caught shrimp with a fantastic flavor – guaranteed.

To meet an ever-increasing demand for fresh, quality gumbo-sized shrimp, the Port of Delcambre and Delcambre Direct Seafood program have introduced the first product in the state carrying the “Certified Authentic Louisiana Wild Seafood” – the Vermilion Bay Sweet White Shrimp gumbo pack. The 70-90 count (pieces per pound) is the perfect size for a wide variety of uses including gumbo, fettuccini, po’boys and pastas.
“This Louisiana Certified Wild Seafood product is the first step in elevating the Louisiana Seafood Brand to the status achieved by the Idaho Potato or Alaska Salmon,” said Ewell Smith, executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, whose organization partnered with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to establish the program. “The Vermilion Bay shrimp retail gumbo packs will open doors for others to follow.”

The  project, conceived by Louisiana State University Agricultural Center ( LSU AgCenter) and Louisiana Sea Grant marine extension program, was designed to bring a locally branded product to the marketplace.

“Vermilion Bay Sweet White gumbo shrimp pack will contain no sodium tripolyphosphate or STP,” explained Thomas Hymel of LSU AgCenter/Sea Grant. “STP is a chemical that is widely used in the seafood industry in raw frozen product as an aid to prevent product moisture loss during the thawing process. We wanted this shrimp pack to be just like if you bought the shrimp fresh off the boat and peeled them yourself … with nothing added but shrimp.”
“Boutique” Project

The demonstration project was based on an idea that small “boutique” processors across the state could benefit from the farm-to-market movement, where local products are sought.”

Monday, May 13, 2013

Eleven Chefs Sharpen Knives and Skills in Pursuit of “King of Louisiana Seafood” Title

Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off Showcases the Best

Louisiana’s legendary seafood – and the expertise of 11 competing chefs – will take center stage at the sixth annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans on Saturday, May 25.
The popular statewide culinary competition is a featured event at the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (NOWFE).
Hosted by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board (LSPMB), the cook-off will take place during the Grand Tasting Event at the Morial Convention Center.
This is the second consecutive year a chef from
Wine Country Bistro & Bottle Shop in Shreveport will compete.
Last year Chef Anthony Felan (right) rushes to
 deliver his dish to judges. Photo: Louisiana Seafood Board

Armed with favorite seafood recipes, racks of seasonings and everything from crawfish to shrimp, 11 chefs from top restaurants across Louisiana will compete for the title of “King of Louisiana Seafood.” The winner will represent the Louisiana seafood industry at events throughout the year.

Some of Louisiana’s Best
Competing chefs include Manny Augello of Jolie’s Bistro in Lafayette; Kevin Bourg of Wine Country Bistro and Bottle Shop in Shreveport; Cody Carroll of Hot Tails Restaurant in New Roads; Troy Deano of 18 STEAK at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge; Tommy DiGiovanni of Arnauds in New Orleans; Brett Duffee of Bayona in New Orleans; Austin Kirzner of Red Fish Grill in New Orleans; Dustie Latiolais of Crawfish Town USA in Henderson; Guy Sockrider of Tomas Bistro in New Orleans; Dean Terrebonne of Belle Terre Country Club in LaPlace; and Zachary Watters of Zachary’s in Mandeville.

“The cook-off is a great way to showcase Louisiana seafood,” said Dustie Latiolais, chef at Crawfish Town USA. “I’ve been making some sample dishes and letting my regular customers sample them.”

Latiolais, who at 26 has been cooking for 12 years, is looking for good weather at the outdoor event.

“I hope everyone enjoys the food and has a really good time,” he said.

This year’s cook-off will be emceed by Ewell Smith, executive director of LSPMB, and 2011 Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off winner Cory Bahr, chef and owner of Restaurant Cotton in Monroe.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Louisiana celebrates National Tourism Week, kicks off rally held in New Orleans

National Travel and Tourism Week is a tradition celebrated annually since 1984. It was established as National Tourism Week when the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution in 1983 designating the week to be celebrated in May. In a White House ceremony, President Reagan even signed a Presidential Proclamation urging citizens to observe the week with ceremonies and activities in their communities. 
Every year in mid-May, the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, along with our major tourism partners like the Louisiana Restaurant Association, the Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association and New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., join cities across the United States to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week and the industry that employs more than 75,000 locals and brings $6 billion to our city annually. We expect approximately 700 people to attend the luncheon and we have an exciting program planned.
"The promotion of tourism to Louisiana is vitally important to the restaurants across Louisiana," said Stan Harris, LRA President/CEO. "National Travel and Tourism Week affords our industry the opportunity to remind the public of the unique culinary and cultural treasures we have in Louisiana and how that translates to jobs and revenue."

The first full week of May is annually recognized as National Travel and Tourism Week, a tradition first celebrated in 1984. Localized events are presented in cities, states and travel businesses nationwide to champion the power of travel. It was established as National Tourism Week when the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution in 1983 designating the week to be celebrated in May. In a White House ceremony, President Ronald Reagan signed a Presidential Proclamation urging citizens to observe the week with “the appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

While New Orleans hosts a rally to emphasize the economic impact and number of individuals the hospitality industry employs, Louisiana Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne toured the state this week spreading the message of tourism's role in the state's economy. The press tour kicked off in New Orleans for the rally and moved on to the Northshore, Bossier City, Lake Charles and Jeff Davis Parish.

Since its establishment, the U.S. travel community has collectively marked the event in a number of creative ways, from staging local rallies and conducting media outreach to securing proclamations and resolutions from local legislative bodies.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Inaugural Farm to Table International Symposium Announced in New Orleans

New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and SoFAB Institute to Partner

The inaugural Farm To Table International Symposium (F2Ti), featuring the brightest thought leaders and leading practitioners in the burgeoning farm-to-table movement, will be held in New Orleans, August 2 – 4, 2013.

The August Symposium takes place in tandem with the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s Annual Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO, an event featuring related exhibits and attracting food and beverage professionals from across the Gulf South Region.

F2Ti explores the cultivation, distribution, and consumption of food and drink sourced locally to globally. Topics include farming and aquaculture, fisheries, sustainability, social and digital interactive media, food security and safety, food law and policy, food science and GMO, artisanal and slow food and drink, and fair trade.

F2Ti is produced by the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in partnership with the SoFAB Institute. SoFAB documents and celebrates the food and drink of all cultures through exhibits, programming, and a range of media. SoFAB is home to several entities, among them the SoFAB Center for Food Law, Policy & Culture, the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, Museum of the American Cocktail, and SoFAB Media. F2Ti is the second exclusive trade show production of the Convention Center’s recently established Tradeshows and Conferences division. The Convention Center also owns and produces the International Disaster Conference and Expo, held each January.

The announcement took place at the Frederick Douglass Garden of the Sankofa Community Development Corporation. Chef Dominique Macquet of Dominique’s on Magazine prepared a locally-sourced lunch for those in attendance. The menu featured dishes created with herbs, vegetables and greens grown in Sankofa’s Frederick Douglass Garden: a freshly baked baguette sandwich with Tuscan ham, butter lettuce and herbed aioli; a red and golden beet salad with goat cheese sourced from Ryals Goat Dairy in Mississippi; mint infused iced tea; and strawberry-lemon trifle.

Chef Macquet, who hails from the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and has been a prominent fixture in the New Orleans restaurant scene for 16 years, said, “I have cooked with ingredients from all over the globe, but the ingredients I have found locally are truly the best. It makes such a difference in the quality and taste of a dish when you use ingredients that are sourced within 30 to 50 miles. At least 85% of the dishes on my restaurant menu locally sourced, including herbs grown at my restaurant using hydroponic and aquaponic systems. The flavor of fresh herbs can change the whole meal.”

Kevin Morgan-Rothschild of Verti Farms (Formerly A.M.PS.) demonstrated a desktop aquaponic that runs on rainwater and is used to grow the herbs used in Chef Macquet’s restaurant, Dominique’s on Magazine.

Chef Macquet also demonstrated a hydroponic tower which runs on rainwater and is used to grow herbs used in his restaurant. Dominique’s is the fourth restaurant in the United States to utilize an on-site hydroponic tower.

For information on exhibiting, please contact F2ti Conference Director Jimmy Mouton at 504-582-3000 or