Wednesday, July 31, 2013

La. Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO kicks off Saturday with "A Toast to Talent"

The Louisiana RestaurantAssociation (LRA)’s premier foodservice event, the Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO, will turn 60 this weekend, August 3-5, 2013 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, Halls I-J, with an estimated 11,000 attendees. The EXPO is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, the EXPO is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The EXPO, themed “A Toast to Talent,” is the largest, most comprehensive industry event in the Gulf South region and this year will be no exception. Companies will be exhibiting in more than 400 booths, featuring a wide range of industry products and services. The EXPO will feature an environment where attendees can network and promote their businesses.

The EXPO’s exhibit space has been sold out for nearly two weeks, with more than 80 new exhibiting companies.

2013 NRA Chair
Phil Hickey
The Opening Ceremony, Saturday morning at 10:45 a.m., will feature special guest, National Restaurant Association Chair Phil Hickey, and a “toast” to more than half a century of bringing together restaurateurs and suppliers for the ultimate shopping and educational experience.

A much-lauded feature of last year’s EXPO will return—the IDEA ZONE, where express presentations will be made all three days of the EXPO, will cover emerging trends, best business practices and professional development. Timely sessions of note include “Healthcare Reform: What You Need to Know and Do,” Saturday, August 3 at 1:45 p.m.; “Top 5 Things Restaurants Should Know About Gluten-Free Menus,” Sunday, August 4 at 11:30 a.m. and interactive fun during “Sparkling Wines- Not Just for Celebrations,” Sunday, August 4 at 3:45 p.m. and “Bayou Rum Revives Tradition of Louisiana Rum,” Monday, August 5 at 12:45 p.m.

“The EXPO is a must for restaurant owners, managers, buyers, hotel food and beverage directors and many others. It’s the only place in Louisiana to gain valuable industry knowledge and shop hundreds of companies under one roof,” said Stan Harris, president & CEO of the LRA.

The 2013 EXPO will once again be the venue for the Gulf Coast Seafood Pavilion and the Great American Seafood Cook-Off (GASCO), both celebrating its 10th year and hosted by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board (LSPMB) and sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). On August 3, 16 chefs from across the nation will compete, using domestic seafood from their home states.
The Great American Seafood Cookoff
celebrates 10 years, August 3 in conjuction
with the Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO!
GASCO is sponsored by NOAA.
In May, Chef Cody Carroll of Hot Tails Restaurant in New Roads, with assistance from his wife, Chef Samantha Carroll, was crowned King Louisiana Seafood during the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off. He won the right to represent the state in the national competition. This year’s emcees will be Cory Bahr, executive chef and winner of the 2011 Louisiana Seafood Cook Off; Martie Duncan, chef /“Food Network Star” finalist and “Martie Knows Parties;” and Ewell Smith, executive director of the LSPMB.

The GASCO is open to the public and tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $5 at the two New Orleans area Whole Foods locations—Veterans and Arabella Station—and Whole Foods Baton Rouge. Opening ceremonies begin at 11:30 a.m. and closing ceremonies will be at 4:30 p.m.

PLEASE NOTE: While the GASCO is open to the public, the Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO is for foodservice industry professionals, at least 18 years of age, only. Security personnel will be onsite to monitor event barriers. Registered EXPO attendees will be allowed access to both events.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Acme Oyster House leaders named LRA Restaurateurs of the Year

Mike Rodrigue, owner of
Acme Oyster House is a
2013 Restaurateur of the Year
Michael Rodrigue, Lucien Gunter and Paul Rotner, owner, chief executive officer and chief operating officer, respectively, of Acme Oyster House, will receive the 2013 Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) Restaurateurs of the Year award at the LRA Education Foundation (LRAEF) “Five Star Futures” Gala Saturday, August 3, 2013 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, Grand Ballroom.

Restaurateur of the Year is the LRA’s most prestigious award. Each year, it is presented to an individual (or individuals) who has contributed unselfishly to the advancement of Louisiana’s restaurant industry and has continually dedicated his services at both the local chapter and state levels.

Rodrigue, a native New Orleanian, bought the iconic Acme Oyster House in 1985, during a slow period in the restaurant’s history. He got to work, reviving the restaurant and creating a brand that boasts five locations in the Greater New Orleans area, Baton Rouge and Florida and has grown to 500 employees with an annual revenue topping $25 million. Rodrigue is one of the founding members of the Bayou District Foundation, which revitalized the former St. Bernard Housing Project and City Park Golf Course.                       
Lucien Gunter, CEO of Acme
Oyster House is a LRA 2013
Restaurateur of the Year.

With more than 20 years of hospitality experience, Gunter serves as Acme’s chief executive officer, successfully opening four of the company’s five restaurants. Next year, he will oversee the sixth location, located in Gulf Shores, Ala. Gunter serves on many boards, including the LRA Education Foundation and the Fore!Kids Foundation and currently chairs the New Orleans Oyster Festival.

Paul Rotner, COO of
Acme Oyster House
is a LRA 2013
Restaurateur of the Year.
A California native, Rotner has more than 30 years of management experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry, with stints at the Hard Rock Café and Hotel chain in Las Vegas, among other cities, and the Pink Taco Restaurant chain. He joined Acme in 2007 and is its chief operating officer. Rotner sits on the LRA Board of Directors and is currently the LRA Greater New Orleans Chapter President. He also volunteers his time to the Save Louisiana Coalition and the Sunshine Kids Foundation.

“Acme is involved at every level of our association,” said LRA Chair David Hearn. “Their commitment of time, staff involvement and funds are unmatched. We are so thankful to have them on board. They make the LRA a stronger organization.”

Four other respected Louisiana business leaders received the LRA’s other annual awards: Associate Member of the Year, Advocate of the Year and Hall of Fame Inductee.
Nick Hazard, VP
New Orleans Division
Crescent Crown Distributing
2013 LRA Associate  
Member of the Year.

The Associate Member of the Year Award recognizes restaurant industry suppliers who display exceptional dedication to and support of the LRA. This year’s recipient is Nick Hazard, Vice President New Orleans Division of Crescent Crown Distributing. Hazard, a hospitality industry veteran of 24 years, previously worked for Hard Rock Café and Miller Brewing Company. He has been a dedicated member of the LRA since 2002 and serves on the LRA Board of Directors. He is a tireless volunteer to not only the state organization, but also the Greater New Orleans Chapter, in which he is also a board member. A die-hard LSU fan and former football player, Hazard was the Tigers’ team captain in 1987.

Sen. Neil Riser is the
LRA Advocate of the Year.
The Advocate of the Year is presented to recognize individuals who have supported the advocacy efforts of the LRA and its partner industries. This year’s honoree is Senator Neil Riser, representing District 32 in the Louisiana Senate. Riser is the president and owner of the Riser Funeral Homes in Caldwell and LaSalle parishes, in northeastern Louisiana. As a business owner, he understands the importance of the state’s restaurant industry and has been a great champion of the LRA’s cause.

Each year, the LRA recognizes a member who has given faithful, dedicated and outstanding service to the association by inducting him or her into the LRA Hall of Fame. Drago and Klara Cvitanovich of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant in Metairie and New Orleans are this year’s inductees. The Cvitanovich family’s generosity is legendary in the New Orleans area and at the pinnacle are Drago and Klara. After emigrating from Croatia, they opened Drago’s Seafood Restaurant in Metairie in 1970 and have been dedicated members of the LRA since 1991. Following Hurricane Katrina, Drago’s became a hub of activity, feeding the community and first responders more than 77,000 hot meals at no charge. These days, Drago can still be found sitting at the bar most afternoons at the Metairie restaurant and Klara continues to work six days a week. As her son, LRA Past Chair Tommy Cvitanovich, always points out, she still signs his checks.
Drago and Klara Cvitanovich of Drago's Seafood Restaurant
are the 2013 LRA Hall of Fame inductees.

“On behalf of the LRA, I am honored to recognize these award winners and commend them for the work they do not only for their individual businesses, but also for the association and the restaurant and hospitality industries,” said Hearn.

Also during the gala, 24 culinary and hospitality students will be awarded $51,000 in LRAEF/National Restaurant Association Education Foundation co-branded and general hospitality scholarships, including the Jim Funk Scholarship, which is awarded to the top recipient among the general hospitality scholarship applicants. The scholarship is named for former LRA President & CEO Jim Funk, who retired in 2010, after a long career with the association.

If you would like to make a donation to the LRAEF, in honor of an award recipient, please contact Alice Glenn,

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cheers to a sold out EXPO!

It’s official—the Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO is a sell out! With more than 300 exhibiting companies, 80 of which are new to the EXPO, all we need now is YOU.

Join us Saturday, August 3 for a cake and champagne toast to celebrate the EXPO’s 60th Anniversary with special guest National Restaurant Association Chairman Phil Hickey. The festivities begin at 10:45 a.m. at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center in the lobby of Hall I. We’ll recognize our sponsors, raise a glass to our industry’s talent, cut the ribbon and open the show.

For a stroll down memory lane, we sat down with Sandy Riddle who has been producing the EXPO for a whopping 30 years!

“The EXPO has certainly evolved over the years,” recalls Riddle, EVP of the EXPO. “We used to actually have two shows, one in New Orleans and one in Shreveport, but in the 1980’s they were merged and from then on it’s been in New Orleans.”

Prior to being at the Convention Center, the show was at the River Gate, where Harrah’s Casino now sits. Following the opening of the Convention Center after the 1984 World’s Fair, the EXPO moved into Hall A which in comparison to today’s space was tiny.

“In 1985, we had between 80-100 exhibiting companies and about 2,000 attendees,” she shared. “We outgrew that space in just a few years, primarily because we needed more dock space, especially with the number of refrigerated trucks required to service the EXPO.”

Each year, the EXPO theme changes and the visual elements updated, which affords exhibitors some creative license with their displays. The themes have ranged from License to Serve, Putting on the Ritz, Feast at the Table, the Art of Hospitality and so many others. 

“Each fall, we all start brainstorming to come up with a new, exciting theme. A Toast to Talent was just perfect to commemorate 60 years of the EXPO,” said Riddle. “With the talent that exists in Louisiana’s culinary community, I look forward to celebrating with our exhibitors and attendees.”

You haven't seen this EXPO before!

If you’ve been to the Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO before, you know how awesome it is to explore the hundreds of companies, check out the Idea Zone presentations, cheer on the Louisiana chef in the Great American Seafood Cook Off and see your peers in the industry. But why is this year different? More than 80 new exhibiting companies will be there!

An unprecedented amount of emerging companies want to share their products and services with you August 3-5 at the 60th Annual EXPO themed, “A Toast to Talent.” From food purveyors, online tools and solutions providers, insurance services, flatware, packaging, sustainability services, pest control, uniforms and many, many more, you can’t afford to seek out these companies on your own.

And this exciting news is certainly not meant to lessen your enthusiasm about our returning exhibitors. Many of the companies and brands you know and love will be under one roof as well, ready to share their latest and greatest products, innovations and resources.

You want to hear the best part? Louisiana Restaurant Association members receive complimentary admission for four of their key staff members. Not an LRA member? You’ll have to fork over $40 a head on site ($25 in advance here), but it’s totally worth it.

Check out our 8 Reasons to Attend the EXPO here. Eight is enough to get you in the door, many more will keep you there over three days.

Let us not forget to thank our Platinum Sponsors—CapitalOne Bank, Glazer’s Distributors, Louisiana Cookin’, Republic National Distributing Company, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and the LRA Self Insurer’s Fund for Workers’ Compensation.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Louisiana Chef Cody Carroll vies for title of King of American Seafood, Aug. 3 at EXPO

Chef Cody Carroll represents Louisiana
in the 2013 Great American Seafood
Cookoff, August 3 at the Louisiana
Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO.
Chef Cody Carroll, owner of Hot Tails Restaurant in New Roads, carefully breaks down a large tuna under the attentive gazes of Louisiana ProStart® instructors.

“That’s the beauty of living here,” Carroll tells the crowd. “This fish was caught just yesterday.” The teachers smile and nod their heads, jotting notes as Carroll continues his demonstration, “Fishes of the Gulf: Identification, Fabrication & Cooking Methods,” during the Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation ProStart Educator Summer Training at Grace King High School in Metairie last month.

A Louisiana boy through and through, Carroll, grew up on his family’s farm in Batchelor, where they raised pretty much all of the state’s crops—grain, wheat, soybeans, corn—and arguably its most delicious export—crawfish.

“I grew up hunting, fishing, growing things,” Carroll remembered. “It’s hard work, though and I knew I wanted to go to college and see what else was out there.”

So off to LSU he went, majoring in business and entrepreneurship, while he went back home to the farm during the summer. When he left college, Carroll, 29, had a dream to open a restaurant, but he felt he was missing a skill set.

“I knew 90 percent of what I needed to know to get started,” Carroll said. “I knew I’d learn the other 10 percent in culinary school.”

So off to the Louisiana Culinary Institute (LCI) he went, where he learned about food costs, profit margins, insurance and honed his technique. It would also be where he would meet two very important people in his life and work, his wife, Samantha—Chef de Cuisine at Hot Tails—and his Executive Sous Chef Owen Hohl.

After graduating from LCI in January 2010, the three young chefs found themselves the owners of Hot Tails by that April. The restaurant, serving what Carroll describes as “hardcore south Louisiana cuisine,” was once a drive-through convenience store, ensconced in the business section of New Roads, on Hospital Road. While their kitchen is small—only a six-burner stove, a 24-inch grill and two fryers—they have already had to expand, doubling their original capacity to 100 seats.

Their patrons have welcomed the restaurant with open arms, if not adventurous palates in the beginning.

“I like to think that part of my job is introducing our customers to different preparations of the food they grew up eating,” Carroll explains. “There are more ways to eat fish than to just fry it. We suggest dishes, they trust us and a lot of the time, end up loving it. It’s exciting to win them over.”

That competitive drive will serve Carroll well, as he and Samantha Carroll prepare to represent Louisiana in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off August 3, 2013, during the Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO. He earned his spot in late May, winning the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off during the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience. Carroll was the first to present his offering and was confident in his flavors and preparation. His winning dish, Louisiana Speckled Trout Perdu, stayed true to his origins.

“This year was actually my second time competing in the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off,” Carroll admits. “Last year, I wanted to try something new and I veered off course from what I do best. I didn’t even place. I knew this year I was going to stick with a recipe that was all ‘me,’ with each ingredient telling a story.”

After portioning the tuna, Carroll hands over the demonstration to Hohl, Hot Tails’ resident “Tuna Master.” Hohl carefully sears the tuna filets, after seasoning them.

Carroll beams with pride when speaking of Hohl, a former Grace King ProStart student. “Owen impressed me from the beginning [at LCI]. I remember thinking he should be teaching the class! He knew so much about everything we were learning about.”

Lots of ProStart and culinary students have dreams of working in a restaurant, or opening their own restaurant one day. Carroll has sage advice, as someone who made that dream a reality.

“Focus on the food,” he advises. “Develop your menu, learn the business and keep your food and labor costs steady.” Carroll pauses and grins, “And pay attention in math class.”

Don’t miss seeing Chefs Cody and Samantha Carroll in action at the Great American Seafood Cook-Off, Hall J, at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center Saturday, August 3, 2013, 11:15 a.m.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hurricane Season is here! Is your business ready?

From June 1 to November 1 each year, the possibility that we’ll have to pack up our families and businesses and clear out of South Louisiana is very real. Many of us have been through the “big one” and our older members may have been through several major storms. It’s important that we don’t let those events get too far from our minds as time goes on. The trials were many and collectively as an industry, the times following them were definitely some of our hardest.

What should you be doing right now to prepare?
·         First, you need to meet with your commercial insurance agent to insure that your coverage is up-to-date and you understand if you are covered for wind, flood and fire damage and what your coverage for these damages are.

·         Second, don’t keep a large inventory of food. Food spoilage not only results in the loss of product, but potentially the loss of coolers and refrigerators. Ask your suppliers and distributors what their emergency plan entails.

·         Identify your emergency preparedness team. These are key staff members who are willing to stay behind and secure the premises and be the first back in to re-open.

·         Have a shut down plan. This outlines who does what in securing the location and handling technological matters such as: backing up your POS, batching out your credit card transactions, capturing your payroll information and securing your technology equipment. Thumb drives and laptops are recommended for these members during evacuation.  

·         Keep staff contact information. It is helpful to have an idea of where your staff is going to evacuate, have their cell numbers and also the phone numbers of any family members they may be staying with.

·         Consider creating a Facebook business page or Twitter account for your staff to communicate during an event. Cell phones may not be reliable giving tower outages, etc.

If evacuation is necessary:
·         Change your message on the phone or reservation line, cancel your reservations and parties.
·         Empty the ice machines and coolers.
·         Flip the breakers to the off position to reduce chance of fire.
·         Grab your important documentation—insurance policies, payroll, etc.

These are just the highlights of what you can do to prepare and reduce your losses during a weather event. There are so many aspects of emergency preparedness and it varies depending on your operation, number of locations and proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. Four things all of us can do is consider, think, discuss and act. It’s may not be fun, but it is completely necessary.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bayou Rum - The Spirit of SW Louisiana (& featured at the EXPO)

By Bill deTurk
Contributing writer for Louisiana Restaurant Association's A La Carte magazine

Our story begins back in 1996, when what is now America’s oldest premium rum distillery, Celebration Distillation in New Orleans, opened its sweet smelling doors.  It seemed a perfect fit, rum is made from a distillate of sugarcane, sugarcane syrup, sugarcane molasses, or other sugarcane byproducts; Louisiana is the oldest sugar growing region in the U. S., producing about 400,000 acres or 20% of the country’s supply.  So, sugar equals rum, there should be lots of it coming from here.

Curiously, the “rum”blings (sorry…) of more Louisiana distilleries never quite corporealized.  However, that has all changed within the last couple years with the opening of at least four new distilleries, three specializing in rum.  The city of Lacassine represents the entry from Southwest LA and is home to Louisiana Spirits, makers of Bayou Rum.

The founders are brothers Trey and Tim Litel along with Skip Cortese.  The idea for the business was born out of a conversion in a duck blind several years ago.  Not surprisingly, they were right next to some cane fields at the time.  I caught up with Skip recently in New Orleans and he shared that their inspiration was fairly obvious, “We feel that Louisiana is such a great producer of sugarcane, the opportunity is there to produce more rum.” 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

LRA Education Foundation Awards $51k in Scholarships

Five Star Futures Gala will honor recipients and ProStart Educator of the Year

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) Board of Directors, through its Scholarship Fund, will award $51,000 in scholarships to 24 students to further their post-secondary culinary educations. The students will be presented with their awards at the 2013 LRAEF Five Star Futures Gala August 3, 2013 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Tickets are available for purchase by visiting, or by calling (504) 454-2277.
The LRAEF Scholarship Fund was created in 2009 to support the continuing education of ProStart® students, industry educators and other students with an interest in culinary and hospitality studies. This financial support allows the recipients to pursue post-secondary education in the culinary or hospitality fields, with the goal of having them select Louisiana’s restaurant/hospitality industry as a career choice. Since its inception, the Scholarship Fund has awarded $140,000 to deserving students.

The LRAEF/NRAEF ProStart Scholarship is a co-branded scholarship given to students who have, or will receive the ProStart Certificate of Achievement. This year’s recipients are:
  • Sabrina Bodenheimer, graduate of Lakeshore High School, will attend the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University
  • Marissa Bourgeois, Lutcher High School/St. James Career & Tech Center, will attend Delgado Community College
  • Nicholas Bye, graduate of East Ascension High School, will attend Louisiana Culinary Institute
  • Victoria Cart, graduate of Sulphur High School, will attend the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University
  • Lauren Fendlason, graduate of Ponchatoula High School/Hammond High Magnet School, will attend the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University
  • Caitlin Hall, graduate of Hahnville High School, will attend the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University
  • Lauren Hodgson, graduate of Salmen High School, will attend Louisiana Culinary Institute
  • Peyton Leffingwell, graduate of Destrehan High School/St. Charles Satellite Center, will attend Delgado Community College
  • Nicholas Locicero, graduate of Mandeville High School, will attend Culinary Institute of America
  • Melissa McGuire, graduate of Mandeville, will attend the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University
  • Thien Nguyen, graduate of Dutchtown High School, will attend the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University
  • Christina O’Brien, graduate of Lutcher High School/St. James Career & Tech Center, will attend Louisiana Culinary Institute
  • Hillary Scott, graduate of Allen High School (Texas), will attend the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University

The General Hospitality Scholarship is a scholarship given to students who are currently enrolled or have been accepted in a hospitality or culinary degree seeking program. This year’s recipients are:
  • Kathryn Barker, graduate of Quitman High School (Mississippi), attending Louisiana Culinary Institute
  • Jordale Bergeron, graduate of Livonia High School, attending Louisiana Culinary Institute
  • Nicole Biddy, graduate of Gueydan High School, attending Louisiana Culinary Institute
  • Jonathan Dent, graduate of Huntington High School/Caddo Career Center & Tech Center, attending the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University
  • Lindsay King, graduate of Woodlawn High School, attending Louisiana Culinary Institute
  • Mary Lawrence, graduate of Abeka Christian Academy (Home School), attending Louisiana Culinary Institute
  • April Lee, graduate of East St. John High School, attending the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University
  • Jordan McClelland, graduate of Dutchtown High School, attending Louisiana Culinary Institute
  • Angel Parrilla, graduate of East St. John High School, attending Art Institute of Houston
  • Keiyana Price, graduate of New Iberia Senior High, attending Louisiana Culinary Institute
  • Jamie Warrick, graduate of Warren Easton High School, attending Louisiana Culinary Institute
Top applicant Nicole Biddy is also this year’s Jim Funk Scholarship Award Winner. The LRAEF’s most prestigious award, the scholarship is named for former LRA President & CEO Jim Funk, who retired in 2010 after 30 years of service. Funk is a LRAEF co-founder and culinary education champion.

“The LRAEF Board of Directors is thrilled to reward the hard work of these twenty-four students with funds from our Scholarship Fund,” said LRAEF Chair Fabian Castillo. “Post-secondary education makes a real difference in a future career. We are all very proud of the recipients and know that their commitment to the foodservice industry will make it that much stronger in the coming years.

The night will also feature the LRAEF honoring its ProStart Educator of the Year, Jeryl Fischtzuir of Grace King High School. Fischtzuir was also recently recognized, along with his counterparts from across the country, at the National Restaurant Association’s annual NRA Show in Chicago this past May, for this exemplary dedication to the ProStart program.

The LRAEF would like to thank its ProStart Partners, whose financial assistance makes the LRAEF Scholarship Fund a reality: 5 Diamond: Auto-Chlor Services, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Acme Oyster House and Louisiana Seafood; 4 Diamond: Performance Foodservice-Caro; 3 Diamond: Louisiana Culinary Institute, Atmos Energy, New Orleans Wine & Food Experience; 1 Diamond: Entergy. 
Also, the LRAEF extends special recognition to all LRA chapters that support ProStart and the LRAEF through its various philanthropic activities throughout the year.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Award-winning agricultural writer William Rubel keynote speaker at F2Ti

For the first time, in conjunction with the 60th Annual Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO, the Farm To Table International Symposium will be held August 2-4, 2013. The inaugural symposium will feature gardener and award-winning agricultural writer William Rubel.

F2Ti Inaugural Keynote Speaker
William Rubel
Rubel is the author and 2003 James Beard Award nominee of The Magic of Fire: Hearth Cooking:One Hundred Recipes for Fireplace and Campfire and Bread: A Global History. He is not writing a history of bread for University of California Press. Rubel writes on small-scale agriculture and traditional foodways for Mother Earth News.
A longtime mushroom collector, Rubel’s article in Economic Botany on the historic uses of Amanita muscaria—the iconic mushroom with white dots so favored by children’s book illustrators—as a mushroom for the dinner table has inspired a reappraisal of that mushroom’s edibility. He grows his own vegetables and maintains a longstanding interest in the history of kitchen gardens and the raised-bed gardening system.
Amanita muscaria's resurgence as an edible
mushroom was reprised by William Rubel.  
 For F2Ti, Rubel’s address will provide historical context to the 21st Century Farm-to-Table movement. He will discuss the British and French kitchen gardens attached to the big country houses of the 1600s and 1700s, which were the gardens in which the raised-bed gardening system was perfected. These gardens, which could be many acres in size, employed the latest in agricultural practices. They provided an almost unimaginable variety of vegetables and fruits through a 12-month growing season to satisfy the demands of the finest tables in Europe.
These gardens or, in our terms, small farms, offer inspiration on many levels for us today as we attempt to redevelop the type of agricultural skills that enabled those farmers to provide quality produce to a discerning clientele across the entirety of a year—Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter—despite growing in a Northern European climate. Salad all year, strawberries in January, asparagus in November—this is what the owner of a large British country house in circa 1700 expected from the kitchen garden.
Now, in too many places, we have replaced agricultural skill with cheap transportation. The history of kitchen gardens offers ideas that we can use today to revitalize our agricultural practices.
Members of the LRA receive a 20 percent discount off registration to F2Ti by using the code LRA13. Check out the schedule here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Study: Competition, technology to drive industry's future

Industry competition will continue to intensify in the years ahead, and operators will to have focus on offering elevated levels of food and service in tandem with technological enhancements, new research from the National Restaurant Association has found.
According to the report “Restaurant Industry 2020: A Snapshot of the Future,” NRA research found that operators also will have to continue to upgrade their concepts on an ongoing basis just to remain competitive. Other findings indicate that convenience stores and supermarkets will continue to expand their foodservice offerings; American restaurant operators will keep trying to expand their concepts into international markets, such as Asia, South America, Europe and Africa; and the off-premises segment, including takeout, drive-thru, delivery and mobile operations will continue to gain market share from on-premise restaurants.

“Because of this sustained competitive environment, operators will seek to more strongly differentiate themselves across a spectrum of operational characteristics, ranging from food and service to décor and technology,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA’s research and knowledge group. “In addition, the industry will continue to be a breeding ground for entrepreneurialism and employment growth.”

The study, conducted using the Delphi approach, relies on a panel of industry experts to identify and analyze issues by subjective judgment.

Download the entire report here.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

LRA Health Care Session video now live

If you missed the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s (LRA) June 17-19 five-city tour, “The 411 on Health Care Reform for the Hospitality Industry,” you can watch the session from the comfort and convenience of your home or office.  Featuring National Restaurant Association VP of Health & Insurance Services Randy Spicer, you’ll learn what the Affordable Care Act means, what the law does, what you should do and when you need to do it.

During the sessions, there were some common misconceptions revealed through the questions asked by LRA members, such as common ownership and employer notification responsibility, among others. Read about the misconceptions here.

Now is the perfect time to learn more about the Affordable Care Act and what you need to do.

The LRA has partnered with UnitedHealthcare to introduce the Restaurant Health Care Alliance in Louisiana. The Alliance will offer a suite of health benefit products that will help nearly 200,000 Louisiana restaurant and hospitality employees gain easier access to cost-effective health care coverage and related products and services.

The LRA will be taking appointments at the Louisiana Foodservice and Hospitality EXPO, August 3-5, during which time, members can meet and discuss their specific situations with Kimberlee Vandervoorn, Sr. Director of Strategic Growth Initiatives with UnitedHealthcare.

If you would like to schedule an appointment, please contact the LRA at (504) 454-2277 or email today.
Presenting sponsor for the LRA's five-city Health Care tour was BancorpSouth Insurance Services/Wright & Percy Insurance and also UnitedHealthcare.

LRA Chair David Hearn wants to see you at the EXPO!

It’s that time of year again! I’m pleased to announce that the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) will celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Louisiana Foodservice and Hospitality EXPO, August 3-5, 2013. To commemorate this incredible milestone, this year’s theme is “A Toast to Talent,” and we’ll pay tribute to our industry’s leaders throughout the weekend. 

For three days, our industry has the run of Halls I-J of the New Orleans Convention Center to shop hundreds of product and service companies waiting to share their ideas, innovations and information. The EXPO is designed specifically for our industry to help you become a more profitable and efficient operator. It is one of the best benefits of your LRA membership.

Chef Cody Carroll
competes in the
Great American
Seafood Cookoff
August 3.
Back for the second year is the Idea Zone, located right on the show floor. These express presentations will provide you with valuable information to help you become more profitable, success and inspired. Topics range from perfect pairings of beef and wine, health care reform, building guest loyalty, gluten free menus, sparkling wines and turning menu favorites into healthy options and others. On Monday, the LRA SIF will host its annual Safety Seminar for those workers’ comp participants needing to meet their annual safety dividend criteria.

Chef Cody Carroll of Hot Tails Restaurant in New Roads will represent Louisiana in the Great American Seafood Cookoff. Read about his education, influences and Louisiana seafood inspired dish in the upcoming issue of A La Carte magazine and here at the LRA Blog.

The LRA Education Foundation will host its annual “Five Star Futures Gala,” Saturday, August 3, at 7 p.m. at the Hilton Riverside. Special guests NRA Chairman Phil Hickey and this year’s Restaurateur of the Year will join guests in honoring this year’s deserving recipients of more than $50,000 in culinary and restaurant management scholarships. Purchase your tickets here!

I look forward to seeing you in New Orleans the first weekend of August.
Ps. Book your room at the Headquarter Hotel, the Hilton New Orleans Riverside before July 10 and receive the special $94 rate with the code LRA EXPO. Call 504-561-0500.

Monday, July 1, 2013

LRA Health Care Road Show reveals common misconceptions with the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is upon us and now is the best time to begin to prepare for the changes ahead. The LRA traveled to five Louisiana cities in two and half days in June to break down the Affordable Care Act, what it means, what it does, what to do and when to do it.  

During the Health Care Road Show, the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) and UnitedHealthcare introduced the Restaurant Health Care Alliance in Louisiana, which offers a suite of health benefit products that will help nearly 200,000 Louisiana restaurant and hospitality employees gain easier access to cost-effective health care coverage and related products and Services. 
National Restaurant Association VP of Health and Insurance Services Randy Spicer, UnitedHealthcare Strategic Initiatives Sr. Director Kimberlee Vandervoorn and LRA VP of Communications Wendy Waren found that there were several important areas of the ACA that members needed a little more assistance with in terms of understanding the spirit of the law.
Here are the top 6 misconceptions with the ACA. 

I don’t have 50 Full Time Employees so ACA doesn’t apply to me.
False. Every employer and every individual has a responsible under the Affordable Care Act. Whether or not you meet the large employer threshold (50 Full Time Equivalent [FTE] employees), you have a responsibility to notify your employees of the Louisiana state exchange, also known as the Health Insurance Marketplace. By October, these exchanges will be operational and your employees will be looking to you for information and at the very least you will need to notify, in writing (and get a signature for your legal protection), where employees can access health insurance coverage information. 

The NRA and the LRA have developed an online solution to help restaurateurs comply. Get Ready today: Register for the online solution and learn more about how to meet the October 1, 2013 deadline notification at  

I own several small businesses.  I don’t have to combine all the employees together to determine whether I am a large employer, do I?
Yes, you may need to combine employees for businesses under “common control.” Consult with your tax adviser or attorney about your particular circumstances, but you may need to consider your employees as one group for the purposes of the requirements of the health care law, regardless of whether you own a transportation company, a restaurant, a hotel, a timber business and a bar.  

I have ownership in several businesses with partners and/or family members. How does common ownership factor into the ACA?
The IRS will apply its longstanding common control standard of who is the employer—found at Internal Revenue Code 414(b), (c), (m) and (o)—in these situations. Under this standard, companies that have common ownership or are otherwise related sometimes must be considered as one employer. In the past, common control has been considered by the IRS as the same five or fewer people owning/controlling at least 80 percent of the companies.

My company offers a health care plan for managers. Will that still be allowed under the ACA?
The health care law applies non-discrimination rules to insured group health plans. However, regulations have not been issued to explain how this would work. Any employer that offers management only or tiered health benefit plans should especially be on the lookout for the new non-discrimination rules, which could be issued in 2013.

It is unclear how these types of plans may be affected by the law, but until the regulations are issued, some professionals suggest offering a 60 percent actuarial value plan and the higher valued plan, but offer both plans to all employees. By doing so,  you are allowing your line level employees the ability to buy up to the higher plan that they otherwise didn’t have access to, thus offsetting some possible negatives until more is known. 

Is there a website that tells you all the loop holes?
No, there are no loop holes.  This the law so please visit for the NRA’s Health Care Primer and get started today learning what you need to do to comply with the law.