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May 26, 201110:55 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Crime and Cooking

I first ate a meal at Boucherie in December of 2008. That was not long after the place opened, but I was impressed enough that I included it in a list of the most memorable meals I’d had that year on my Web site. Indeed, I liked it so much that I went back within a week to bring a friend to whom I’d raved about the first meal.

Chef Nathanial Zimet and his business partner, James Denio, had been cooking some of the same food I had at Boucherie out of a big purple truck to late-night crowds outside of venues like Tipitina’s. I got to know them a little after writing about the eatery for the Restaurant Insider in February of 2009 and then got to know them even better when New Orleans Magazine honored Boucherie as the best new restaurant of 2009 in December of that year.

I also don’t want to overstate my friendship with Nathanial. I like him, and when I’ve seen him in his restaurant or elsewhere, we’ve had pleasant conversations. He’s a talented chef, and the enthusiasm he has for cooking is infectious. Six months or so ago, I had a late lunch at Boucherie, and after my meal, I had a chance to chat with Nathanial about an upcoming menu on which he was working with some of his cooks. I am not a good enough writer to describe the excitement in his eyes as he talked about what he was planning. The best I can do is to say that by the end of the conversation, I was anticipating my next meal at Boucherie as though I hadn’t already eaten way too much. I feel for James, as well. I don’t think I’ve ever met a more genuine person. I like the guys is what I’m saying.

I was in depositions on Monday at the Corps of Engineers offices on Leake Avenue. I heard the news that Nathanial had been shot via a text that I didn’t read until late that afternoon during a break in the proceedings. I’m glad for the delay, because by that time, the news was that Nathanial’s life wasn’t in danger. I’d have hated to be left wondering about his condition.

There are a number of ways in which you can help Nathanial. You can donate to a fund set up at Capital One Bank. A beer tasting is being set up by The Beer Buddha with proceeds going to Nathanial’s medical expenses. There’s a benefit being planned for July 10 at the Howlin' Wolf, as well; more details on that as they come in. If you'd like to participate or help in any way, please send a note to benefit4nathanial@gmail.com.

I hope that the various benefits can defray the medical expenses that Nathanial is incurring and that he’s back in the kitchen soon. I also hope, selfishly, that this experience doesn’t mean an end to his time here.

There are so many things to love about New Orleans, particularly for someone passionate about food. Being shot at 5:30 in the morning outside of your home is not one of those things. I wish I knew a solution; I wish there were an easy answer.

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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

about

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 here 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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