A new chef at The Grill Room
Drew Dzejak has been introduced as the new executive chef of the Windsor Court Hotel’s Grill Room. Dzejak most recently worked at the Charleston Place (a property of the Orient-Express chain) in South Carolina, where he was critically acclaimed.

The Grill Room, notes publicist Cary Alden, is popular for “power breakfasts and lunches, special occasions, dinners and Sunday brunch.” Just in time for Carnival season (or perhaps a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner), Chef Dzejak will be preparing cuisine with highlights including a Grilled Foie Gras and Lobster, Carpaccio of Angus Beef and seafood-rich Bouillabaisse.

“The restaurant is for sophisticated individuals who are passionate about food, and enjoy dining out with their contemporaries in a lively, unstuffy environment.” It’s also, Alden adds, for people who appreciate “innovative” food experiences. The restaurant offers live entertainment nightly and complimentary valet parking.

Information, 522-1994, 300 Gravier St. – Sarah Ravits

Fine dining for charity at Galatoire’s
One of the most legendary traditions of Galatoire’s restaurant is that of its coveted Friday lunches. Until 2006, patrons would wait for hours – sometimes days – at a time to secure a spot for a holiday lunch. After Hurricane Katrina, the restaurant, which was spared major damage, took the opportunity to give back to the community. Since then, the restaurant has been hosting two annual charitable table auctions, raising $375,000 for various causes. 

 This year, the Mardi Gras Auction will be held on Feb. 9 at the restaurant beginning at 5:30 p.m. with a champagne reception. Hors d’oeuvres will also be provided, and at 6:30, the bidding will commence, led by auctioneer Ruthie Winston. The auctioned lunch spot will be for Feb. 20.

In the spirit of the annual royal toast to the Mystic Krewe of Barkus, Animal Rescue of New Orleans will be a recipient of the auction donation.

Additionally, the International Shrine of St. Jude, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church was also chosen as a beneficiary.
Galatoire’s, which has been in operation for 105 years, is owned and managed by the Galatoire family with Melvin Rodrigue as CEO. Helmed by executive chef Brian Landry, the restaurant serves Creole French delicacies in an elegant European-style brasserie.

Information, 525-2021, 209 Bourbon St., www.galatoires.com. – Sarah Ravits

Cakes fit for a king
“We’ve been selling them since day one,” Gambino’s Bakery owner Sam Scelfo Jr. says proudly. He’s talking, of course, about the company’s famous King Cakes. With Carnival season underway, Scelfo estimates they produce nearly 110,000 of these cakes a year, with close to 22,000 of them being shipped nationwide. “People will call and order them when they know they are going to be swinging through town,” says Scelfo. “Most of them are from Houston, so a majority seem to be going to Texas or somewhere close.” 

Opened in 1949 by Joe Gambino, the local bakery has blossomed over the years into four locations and a booming Web site business. Scelfo bought Gambino’s in 1979 after serving as general manager, and says King Cake sales constitute a great deal of their revenue each year.

To celebrate 60 years of their hard work and coveted King Cakes, this year Gambino’s is offering some new loot to go with all that sugar and the plastic baby. “We’re still doing the medallions like last year,” Scelfo says, “but this year the cakes also come with a bag of PJ’s Coffee, and we’re excited to do a resealable package.” A Gambino’s King Cake can be a surefire crowd pleaser along the Avenue as parades pass. And who knows, you may not even need to reseal the box!   

Information 4821 Veteran’s Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 885-3620 – Lilith Dorko