“I have been looking for a way to connect more people to the [local foods scene]; then Paul Ayo asked me to do the Chef’s ChoiceDinner,” says Kastner, executive chef and owner of EAT Food Coaching Services. “I [used] the dinner as an opportunity to use all locally sourced ingredients in ways that many people may have never seen or tasted. The idea is to create a heightened level of curiosity of what food can be.”
|Photos by Lucius A. Fontenot|
|Paul Ayo, left, and Jonathan Kastner lead a demonstration at E's Kitchen.|
With the start of the Chef’s Choice Dinner, Ayo, owner of E’s Kitchen, joined the ranks of Denny and Katie Culbert’s Runaway Dish dinner in offering multi-course dining experiences, which allow top chefs such as Kastner, Marc Krampe and Justin Girouard to create menus that highlight the bounty of locally grown and raised foods in Acadiana.
“This past October, [we] went to Oxford, Miss., for the Southern Foodways Alliance’s annual symposium,” says Katie Culbert, co-owner of Kiki. “The SFA is an amazing organization rooted in preserving Southern food culture. [At the symposium] I had the most memorable meal of my life: a sit-down, 10-course lunch for 400 people, all vegetable dishes passed around family style, in an art gallery. We got back from Oxford and I was like, ‘I want to do that!’ Then we started meeting with Krampe and Justin and Margaret Girouard, and Runaway Dish was born.”
For both the Chef’s Choice Dinner and Runaway Dish, Kastner along with Krampe and Girouard sourced ingredients such as Brookshire Farm beef, Isle Navarre Farms lamb, Bread and Circus Provisions’ 15-month cured ham, Mary Mary Markets’ edible flowers, Louisiana Gulf of Mexico oysters, Gotreaux Family Farms vegetables and eggs, and many more.
Using locally produced ingredients not only educates patrons on the diverse options we have in Acadiana but also provides insight on how to cook locally grown foods. Brian Gotreaux, owner of Gotreaux Family Farms, adds that “chefs incorporating local food into their menu options bolsters community connectivity.” Connectivity is a common theme in the local foods movement, as the dinners feature local farms, which is good for the farmers and ultimately good for the community and environment.
In addition to providing a unique culinary experience and supporting local farmers, all of the profits for each Runaway Dish event go to charity. Not only do attendees get to take pride in the culinary delights they are served and the local farms they are supporting, but they also support local charities with their dinner ticket purchases. The first dinner benefited Louisiana Folk Roots.
“Folk Roots seemed like a good fit for the first one since the dinner took place on the Tuesday before Festival International. Next up, the Children’s Museum in August and the Southern Screen Film Festival in November,” says Katie. “Our mission is to give to very localized, maybe under-served charities or non-profits in the area where $2,000, $3,000, $4,000 can really make a difference and you can see directly where the money is going.”
Tyler F. Thigpen is a wetland ecologist and president of Acadiana Food Circle (www.AcadianaFoodCircle.org), a community-based nonprofit that connects local food producers to consumers.
Louisiana moved up a slot to 48th in the ranking of healthy states — once again, thank God for Mississippi! — so all this frettin’ about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s refusal to expand Medicaid per Obamacare ... fuggidaboutit! We don’t need Medicaid no more!
The Denham Springs woman who placed Christmas lights in the shape of a butter finger on her roof in a display of anger directed at neighbors has doubled the trouble for the 2013 holiday season.
The New Orleans architect behind the 1984 World’s Fair also left his mark on Lafayette.
Laid back vibe just right for NOLA Bowl
The 30-second commercial, to run around the state, is the Democratic senator's first TV spot in her bid for re-election to a fourth term.
It's a number that has edged up but falls far short of the thousands who are eligible for subsidized coverage.
A group of mostly higher education leaders will make recommendations to state lawmakers about how to tweak the policies governing tuition rates charged at the state's public colleges.
Week long specials and a ribbon cutting celebration held in Parc Lafayette
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Fort Worth company's new facility at Lafayette Regional Airport will build helicopters primarily for the export market.
Could River Ranch restaurant be the next star?
Move over Hooters — there’s a new breastaurant coming to town.
Hashtag, retweet, like, share and do whatever else it takes to get in good today with the jolly man in red.
That would be Congressman John Fleming talking about Sen. David Vitter.
The alleged mastermind behind the bribery scheme that went on for four years under DA Mike Harson’s nose isn’t just schizophrenic, bipolar and recovering from mini strokes; he now says he has cancer.
Louisiana's higher education leaders are trying to work out a financing deal to keep the state's public colleges from running low on state cash to operate their campuses.
With their latest triumph, the Saints left little doubt about how tough they are to beat in the Superdome. Unfortunately, two of their remaining three games are on the road.
The festival is scheduled for March 21-22 in New Orleans.
NOLA Bowl ready prints
For the first time in at least five years, retired teachers, state workers and school system employees could see an increase in their pension checks.