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Jul 20, 201710:03 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Culinary Imagination

Let’s get this out of the way up front: I like Chef Chris DeBarr. He’s an odd fellow, as am I, but more pertinently he has the sort of culinary imagination to which I aspire and the talent to pull it off. When he’s in a kitchen I’m paying attention, and so should you. DeBarr’s latest venture is a popup, Lit: A Storytelling Kitchen. That may sound like a pretentious name, but if you know DeBarr, you know he’s anything but. 

What he is, is imaginative and whimsical and a little flighty and the kind of guy who delights in turning you on to new flavors and ingredients, then talking to you about them. One example: I’d only read about Huitlacoche until I tried it at Green Goddess, the restaurant DeBarr opened with Paul Artigues before leaving for other options. It’s got a sort of musty, earthy flavor that reminds most people of truffles. It’s not the sort of thing you find in the grocery, but DeBarr had it on the menu at Green Goddess over 10 years ago, and he was delighted to discuss it with anyone who’d listen. 

When he was in the kitchen at the Delachaise he did similar stuff, and I think I got to know him when he brought food out from the kitchen then stayed to talk about his menu or what he was thinking about making in the future, and just food generally. More than anything, DeBarr is thoughtful. 

On July 29, he and Christie Schaefer are doing a popup at Peaches Records. The menu honors the Miles Davis record Birth of the Cool, which is a great record though not quite as great as Kind of Blue. That the menu takes inspiration from a jazz record exemplifies DeBarr’s approach, but you don’t have to like bebop or cool jazz to enjoy it. Here’s a cut and paste of what the Lit: A Storytelling Kitchen Facebook page has as the menu: 


  • Gazpacho Blanco: The classic refreshing gazpacho as it might have been made in Cervantes' time, long before tomatoes arrived from the New World:

Almonds, roasted garlic, Sherry vinegar, bread garnished with grapes, cucumbers, smoky almonds, great olive

  • James Beard's Pecan-Crusted Pimento Cheese Log, with radish & cucumbers
  • "Bag's Groove:" Vietnamese pastel shrimp crackers stuffed w crab, basil, mango
  • Moroccan lamb meatballs fortified w/ eggplant & apricots, served w/ yogurt mint/scallion sauce
  • "Tumblin' Dice:" skewers of Persian spice crusted tuna, watermelon, furikake, Aleppo chile
  • "Play & Permutations on a Spanish Theme:" Serrano ham, cantaloupe, various queso, membrillo, olives, smoked pimentón
  • Black paella with chorizo and clams, aioli; w/ saffron shrimp escabeche, parsley oil
  • Dessert: 

Mango/Cardamom/Pistachio Fool

Blueberry Lemon Icebox Cake


Bear in mind that menus change, particularly in this context, but that should give you an idea of what to expect from the event. 

Peaches is at 4318 Magazine St., and the event runs from 5 to 9 p.m. No reservations, but there are 24 seats, and I suspect they’ll have food for several turns. There will also be Hansen’s Sno-Bliz in the house, and Stanton Moore will be playing that night as well. Expect prices for the a la carte menu to run between $6 and $12. There will be beer, and as I understand it you can bring a bottle of wine if you like. Don’t expect stemware. A portion of the proceeds from the dinner and record sales at Peaches will go to feed the hungry at the St. Jude Mission.  


Hope to see you there. 


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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene


Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived in New Orleans his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.




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