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Jun 2, 2009 07:05 PM

Restaurant Recs for current CIA student. Learning experience preferred.

I am taking my 19-year old son to NOLA at the end of August. He is a student at the CIA in Hyde Park and will be finishing an ”externship” at Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta under Chef Linton Hopkins who was a Finalist the last two years for the James Beard Award and Food and Wine’s “10 Best New Chefs of 2009”. Chowhounds, if you are in Atlanta, you should definitely check it out.

He has worked very hard, with long, long hours, he has learned and grown a great deal and I would like him to experience all the culinary delights of New Orleans but with a slant to continuing his education during our ravenous weekend. And hopefully, maybe he will come work in New Orleans after school is over.

So, my question is not only where to take him to eat for three days, but are there recognized, creative restaurants that have a “Chef’s Table” in the kitchen where he can watch, eat and learn?

Thanks for all your help.

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  1. this is an interesting question...I'm not sure I know how to begin to address it.. There are "Chef's Tables" but how much he'd learn at them? I dunno. You can see the show, of course, and some of the show is put on Just For You. Theatre? sure..Cooking? maybe....

    You have only three days...this presents a problem..there is no way you can take the measure and breadth of New Orleans in three days or three months. Your best bet is Brightsen's, I think...go there more than is not education to flit from point-to-point..merely gaining experience(which is OK, of course). Ask to meet Frank, let him know the score, and I think you will be happy with the results.

    If you had a few more days, I could put together a tutorial--but even that would be hard to pull off. If Maylie's Restaurant were still around, I'd have you chain your son to the bar-rail and just watch for three days. It would be only a chalk mark on his education, but it would count for a lot. Fundamentals are important.

    1. Why not contact a few chefs, tell them your story. Perhaps your son can spend an afternoon in the kitchen or at least get a tour. I'd try Besh, Brigtsen, Shannon, Link, Spicer. Nothing to lose.

      3 Replies
      1. re: JazzyB

        Try Boswell, too. He'd almost certainly be up for it, and Stella! is a very creative kitchen. Good atmosphere to work in.

        1. re: mikemill

          Boswell is a great idea. I would call, not send an email.

        2. Hmm, I'd think you two should focus on educating his palate, rather than observing the action in kitchens. imho, so many young, school-trained chefs have technical skills, but they lack any palate refinement. Has he eaten vietnamese food? NO provides a wealth of opportunities to do so, at bargain prices. (Ex, have the jellyfish salad or goat curry at Tan Dinh.) Eat high and low while you're in town, exploring new-to-you flavors and local specialties; forget the action in the kitchen.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Hungry Celeste

            I agree with that. You're not going to get any valuable kitchen experience by watching one service. You'll pick up what you need to know quickly once you begin working. The important thing is to broaden your palate, and get ideas. I second Tan Dinh or Nine Roses on the Westbank, or Kim Anh's for pho in Harahan.

            Also, try the classic New Orleans dishes like gumbo and red beans, etc. Someone else is going to have to help you out with recs for those, because I don't usually eat them at restaurants. However, you should probably check out Cochon, too. Good food at good prices, with a local flavor you're not going to get elsewhere.

            1. re: Hungry Celeste

              You summed up what I was incoherently thinking. School-training is good up to a is akin to my argument that I'd rather have a good cook than a "Chef." the latter term is so loosely used as to be meaningless. How many Chefs de Cuisines are there today, in the true sense? No, give me a cook--and a cook needs to know how the stuff is supposed to taste.

            2. Thanks for bringing him to New Orleans. We hope he beings a long career with New Orleans.
              One chef, and eatery, I think you should go to is Wolfe's (Wolfe's, not Wolfe's in the Warehouse). Wolfe worked under Emeril for years before going out on his own. He brings a multi-cultural and faceted approach to working with Louisiana food stuffs. That would be a good place to eat and talk about working in New Orleans.

              All the other mentions on this post are also very good.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Lyonola

                Thank you for all your valued suggestions.
                I had already planned to contact the Chefs recommended before we arrive. Most were already on our itinerary for the weekend. His current chef mentor worked at Windsor Court and Mr. B’s Bistro before opening Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta. He’s really excited about August as Chef Besh graduated from the CIA and spoke at his school. Cochon really appeals to us, as does Brigsten's and the Gumbo Sampler at Olivier’s.
                I totally get the “chef’s palate” comments. Culinary school only gives you the fundamentals, life gives you the perspective. He was raised traveling, thoughtfully, not touristy. My interest in food led us to many authentic, neighborhood restaurants all across the US and Europe. I hope that is where he developed his interest in food and with any luck; I can encourage his move to the next level. He just better appreciate it and cook for me whenever I want.

                1. re: HairIcon

                  jazzyb recommended afew chefs but i would say you can take jamie shannon off the list since hes been dead for around 5 years. there are quite afew cia alumni working here, among them is john besh, scott boswell, bob iacovone and several others, frank brigsten would be a good guy to talk to about the next 15 years your son will sweat and struggle and starve as he works his way through addictions and women, and of course, kitchens, just kidding......kinda

              2. To go along with the great suggestions so far, I would second, or third the following:

                1.) Chef John Besh
                2.) Chef Frank Brigtsen
                3.) Chef Scott Boswell
                4.) Chef Susan Spicer

                There is no real order to that list. Most chefs would be glad to do a tour of their kitchen. We did similar for a nephew and he got the "grand tour."

                I do also agree with refining one's palate, with regards to tasting - but also the visual aesthetics of presentations. Those four would be a good starting point for both.