So much good news all at once. Keeping up with New Orleans’ rapidly expanding dining and drinking scene, growing out of an already handsomely evolved environment, presents wonderful opportunities to enjoy the kudos heading the way of our neighbors. Makes you feel proud to know this place.

 

Quickly surveying the landscape:

Under the heading of “I agree with the accolade but what’s the deal with the timing,” Michael Gulotta of MoPho and Tana, has been named by Food and Wine Magazine as one of America’s Best New Chefs, 2016, joining only nine other talented professionals in the nation to receive the recognition.

By way of explanation, Food and Wine Magazine considers a new chef as anyone with less than 5 years experience in the kitchen. I don’t want to ruin anything here, or point out something we all know, but Gulotta was the chef de cuisine with John Besh for six years. Then MoPho opened in 2014, so let’s see that’s…..never mind. The important thing is that Gulotta is still a young guy and has many years left of sharing his creations with us.

Let me also point out for any state legislator who may be reading this, Gulotta was able to obtain an excellent culinary education at Nicholls State as a TOPS program student. Local boy staying local because programs are available, then serving great cuisine to local folks and receiving national recognition. That’s the way it’s supposed to work, yes?

Anyway, Gulotta mortgaged his house to get MoPho up and running and I don’t think he has ever regretted that leap of faith in the New Orleans dining scene. We have been big fans from the beginning. If you have not been, why not drop by MoPho and see why Food and Wine Magazine thought so much of his work? Spoiler alert: F&W is not wrong.

Michael will be honored at the prestigious Food and Wine Classic event in Aspen mid-June.   

 


 

A name not so well-known in our culinary community, but it should be, is Titus Perkins, executive kitchen manager at Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street.  Perkins’ life got off to a rough start. He was raised by his grandmother who was bed-ridden so he took care of her and the house from age 9. Then as a teenager, he came into contact with the law – not on the right side – and also fathered a child.

In situations like this, about this time, usually someone offers some good advice. And often that advice is not heeded. But Perkins had good sense and took the advice to heart. He joined the early morning kitchen crew in the jockey room at the Fairgrounds, which then earned him the opportunity to wash dishes at Ralph Brennan restaurants. Working your way up to dishwasher may seem like a tough way to get a job, and it is. Perkins has something inside of him that is decent and a strong respect and appreciation of what’s right.

Today, Perkins not only has worked his way up in the Ralph Brennan organization, he is a mentor to young people who are not squarely on the correct path. Perkins has two college-educated children and what a great role model those young people have – their own father.

Next week, Perkins is heading to Washington, D.C., all expenses paid, to be honored by the National Restaurant Association. That esteemed organization has named Perkins as a Face of Diversity honoree. What makes Perkins proud is that the National Restaurant Association is establishing a college scholarship in his name to be awarded to an aspiring student who is at life’s crossroads, like he was.

Now, you tell me there is no good news in the world.

 


 

Lastly, a big personal shout-out to Betsie Gambel, Gambel Communications, whom I am proud to call a long-time friend. Betsie is one of the clear voices you hear, communicating news about her clients, as she plies her craft which is public relations and corporate communications.

She has just been recognized as one of only 36 professional PR women nationwide as a Champion of PR, one who “sets the bar higher both professionally and philanthropically.” Gambel was the first Louisianan to be inducted into the PR Hall of Fame so this accolade is a continuation of acknowledgement for an amazing career.

These strong affirmations come from peer groups and respected national organizations who see quality stories all over the country. To have so many honors recognizing such diverse individuals in our community is awe-inspiring.

 

Now, please go back and re-read the headline. Then do it.

 

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Read Happy Hour here on www.myneworleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed at www.wgso.com.