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May 12, 201110:28 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Happenings and Notes of Interest

René Bajeux at La Provence

Photo courtesy of Robert Peyton

The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience kicks off its 20th annual festival on May 24. For five days, New Orleans will host a celebration of wine, food and good times generally. (Good times are not guaranteed unless you’re with me.) Check out the Web site linked above for a listing of all the activities at NOWFE; highlights include wine dinners at multiple local restaurants on Wednesday, May 25, and the Royal Street Stroll on Thursday, May 26. The latter is particularly nice if it’s not too hot out. NOWFE is a nonprofit organization from which numerous groups benefit. One of those is Girls First, which coincidentally is hosting an event tonight.

Girls First gives girls in the New Orleans area who don’t have many options the opportunity to participate in sports and exercise programs. They sponsor a week-long sports camp at Tulane University as well as monthly activities during the year. Tonight’s event, Girls Night Out, takes place from 5 to 7 at Café Adelaide. Celebrity bartenders Brittany Brees and Cheryl Landrieu will be serving a number of specialty cocktails, and guests can pay anywhere from $10 to $1,000 to participate.

Ye Olde College Inn, which lacks only “Tyme” and “Shoppe” to qualify for the Olde Englishe Lotterye award, has hired Brad McGehee as executive chef. If you haven’t been to Ye Olde College Inn lately, you might be surprised by the quality of the food presented. Chef McGehee’s hiring is yet another step in the direction that the casual eatery has been taking toward serving more than bar snacks and comfort food. McGehee most recently worked with chef Matt Murphy, formerly of M Bistro at the Ritz Carlton, and like Murphy is a devotee of farm to table cooking. Although I kid about the name of the place, I had a good meal the last time I dined. I would expect that with McGehee in charge of the kitchen, my next meal will be even better.

Chef Steven Stryjewski of Cochon has been named Best Chef of the South region by the James Beard Foundation. That’s a pretty big deal in the restaurant world, and Stryjewski was the only local chef to come back with an award from the event Monday night. He’s a pretty swell dude, and Cochon is an outstanding restaurant, so I’m happy for him.

Another pretty swell dude, chef René Bajeux, is returning to New Orleans to take the helm at the Rib Room in the Royal Orleans. Indeed, on May 25 he’ll be cooking a six-course menu with wines paired by Trinchero as a part of the NOWFE wine dinners. I have never made a secret of the fact that I think Bajeux is one of the best chefs to ever work in New Orleans, so I’m glad he’s back. I do hope that the folks at the Royal Orleans give him the freedom to cook his food in addition to the classic Rib Room menu. I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t – or why he would take the position if that were the case – so I’m pretty optimistic about the whole affair.

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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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