Highlights of Louisiana's cuisine, according to local chefs
Two Louisiana-based chefs wax lyrical about what makes the state’s cuisine so unique.
Chef/owner, QED Hospitality
What makes Louisiana such a culinary gem?
Food is part of our culture. Whenever we celebrate, it’s centred around food and music. It’s part of the fabric of living here. It fascinates me how many different influences and cultures have come together to create Creole cuisine. From the French and Spanish to African and even present-day Vietnam — this is what makes it so exciting. And it’s constantly evolving, with chefs adding a modern twist to it all.
Describe the perfect meal when in Louisiana.
For starters, a shrimp remoulade with horseradish, Creole mustard, the sweetness of tomato and a glass of Champagne. And then something like a gumbo or a crawfish etouffee — the French translation means to smother, with plenty of butter and garlic.
What are your favourite dishes?
We get such beautiful seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. Where the mouth of the Mississippi empties into the brackish water of the Gulf, it creates a wonderful breeding ground for shellfish; shrimps, oysters and crab. It depends on the season, but in spring, I love crawfish in a buttery etouffee, or in summer, sweet brown shrimp.
What’s your cooking philosophy?
Essentially to pay respects to the past, know where you come from and to stay relevant. We need to focus on sustainable sourcing and support local producers.
Do you have any vivid food memories from childhood?
My grandmother was a phenomenal cook. She had 10 children and I have these memories of large family gatherings at her house with a huge pot bubbling on the stove — either a delicious smelling gumbo or a beef dish. It’s these family gatherings that have definitely influenced my style of cooking today. neworleans.com
Chef, Latil’s Landing Restaurant at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens
Describe your cooking style.
I think Louisiana is the greatest recognisable cuisine in the US. My cooking style focuses on balancing the great classics of the region with my own creative spin. I want to honour historical Creole and Cajun food, which comes from the people of the swamps, living off the land and cooking anything they could get their hands on — alligators, squirrels etc. It’s the humble food of the region.
What’s been the highlight of your career?
If I could go back and tell young Jeremy he’d travel the world and eat in the world’s best restaurants, all through cooking, I would never have believed it. It’s been an incredible journey since I started cooking in 1995–especially when Esquire named us one of the best new restaurants in the US back in 2005.
Do you have a favourite place for eating out?
Outside the French quarter in New Orleans, there’s a beautiful property, Antoine’s, that’s nearly 200 years old and serves Cajun and Creole dishes. For fine dining, head to Restaurant R’evolution. But when you just need a pit-stop feed, gas stations sell delicious boudin — a classic dish of sausage, rice and herbs — especially around the Lake Charles area.
What’s the one ingredient you can’t live without?
Pork. It’s such an important part of our cuisine — we put it in everything; stews, sauces and broths. We like to smother everything in bacon. We also have a type of sausage, andouille, which is a bit like chorizo and makes everything taste good.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
It has to be Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I’ve got quite the sweet tooth. houmashouse.com
How to make it: bananas foster recipe
Learn how to make this classic banana and vanilla ice cream dessert from New Orleans.
Takes: 20 mins
55g cup butter
200g brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
125ml cane syrup
60ml banana liqueur
4 bananas, cut in half
lengthwise, then halved
60ml Bayou Spiced Rum
vanilla ice cream
1. Combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a
skillet. Place the pan over a low heat on top of the stove and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
2. Stir in the cane syrup, banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan. When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum. Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot.
3. Lift the bananas out of the pan and plate over the ice cream. Generously spoon warm sauce
over the top of the ice cream and serve immediately.
For more information, visit louisianatravel.com
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