Almost at the very back of Antoine’s restaurant there’s a small dining room next to the wine cellar. Officially the area has been known as the “1940 Last Room,” but then there was the day that Paul McIlhenny nailed a sign to the door that proclaimed the room to be the “Chez Team Tabasco” room. […]
Most of the time, I barely even think about the large age gap between my two daughters – it just is what it is. Earlier this week, though, I found myself in the office hooked up to a breast pump to ensure that Georgia would have enough food for the next day while simultaneously making […]
I had heard of running tours in other cities, so I figured there must be something similar in New Orleans. Thanks to Google I found New Orleans Jogging Tours in seconds, and booked my first tour for a sunny day in February. As someone who likes to stay active, a running tour has always seemed […]
After a weekend visit to the French Quarter, I’m here to tell you that there are possibly more places to shop there than there are restaurants – and knowing how much we like to eat, that’s saying something. Whether you’re looking for clothing, jewelry, shoes, hats, accessories or a piece of New Orleans’ past, the […]
Each French Quarter bar off the tourist-beaten path has a distinct personality, but it changes rapidly over the course of a night (or day) depending, of course, on the crowds. Part of the fun of rolling into one of these casual bars is mingling with its eclectic denizens and creating your own environment. Bring friends […]
If the sun were visible, it would have been starting to set on Mardi Gras while Chegadao played at the Balcony Music Club (BMC). The location, at the corner of Decatur Street and Esplanade Avenue has been The Mint, The Matador and even a short-lived club owned by comedian/magician Harry Anderson, and it has become […]
This romp around the French Quarter focuses on full course meals at bars in restaurants within the boundaries of our beloved Vieux Carré. It begins with a revolution, a new restaurant named R’evolution spawned out of a three-way with Louisiana Chef John Folse, Chef Rick Tramonto and Royal Sonesta Hotel owners, or management, or some […]
One of the most popular features of this magazine, besides this one, of course, is the Julia Street column where questions are asked and answers are provided about all matters New Orleans. Those of us madly in love with this town, or at any given moment just mad at it, are happy to know about […]
I have been writing this column long enough that I’m starting to run out of ideas for clever opening sentences tied to a specific month. What is that you say? I have never had a clever idea for an opening sentence yet, so why break the streak, and also I’m ugly and I smell of […]
For many festivalgoers, Jazz Fest is as much about food as it is about music. No trip to the Fair Grounds is complete without the ritual of hunting and foraging for something new to share whilst your friends hold down the fort or a patch of grass, as it were. Like what happens backstage at […]
There were two events that occurred in the middle of March in which new sovereigns were declared within their own universe. In Rome, Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis; and in New Orleans Ted Brennan became the sole business owner of Brennan’s Restaurant. Of the two, Bergoglio probably had the easier time because he only […]
In this country we got Republicans and Democrats, Catholics and atheists, Saints and Falcons – and we got sitters and hoverers. (If you happen to be a man, you might not want to read no further. Maybe go watch some baseball. This is kind of between us ladies.) Ladies, you know how when you got to […]
Boats have shuttled people across the Mississippi River since the very founding of New Orleans, and they play a role in the metro area’s modern transportation network. Now, however, local officials are looking for new ways to fund these ferries to keep the service alive. There is concern that ending ferry service would shift more […]
Twenty-two citizens served on the grand jury that deliberated the fate of former New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin. Only one, the grand jury foreman, now stands before U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle Jr. The foreman is an older, white-haired man, wearing a short-sleeved shirt. He is unassuming, perhaps retired. Because grand jury proceedings are secret, […]
The John Ochsner Heart & Vascular Institute (JOHVI) at Ochsner Medical Center performed the Gulf South region’s first Total Artificial Heart implant. This device is the world’s first and only FDA-approved device. In an Ochsner-generated press release, Hector Ventura M.D., Section Head, Heart Failure and Transplantation, Ochsner Medical Center, said, “We are extremely proud to […]
The freeway overpass on North Claiborne Avenue has dominated the downtown landscape for so long it’s hard for some people to imagine the area without it, much less remember how that part of the city functioned before it was built. But as the idea of removing the aging overpass continues to make the rounds among […]
The year is 2088, and your spaceship has just landed on the planet Mochwoi, which has an atmosphere similar to Earth’s but no intelligent life forms. The mission assigned to you by Galaxy Patrol: Investigate and colonize the planet. As you accept your new responsibilities you join a cadre of individuals who have come to […]
Driving in downtown New Orleans during the Super Bowl was certainly inconvenient, but the mega-event also provided an apt backdrop for a project that could make getting around the city easier than ever in the long run. Boosters for better bicycling in New Orleans used the run-up to the game to demonstrate a bike share […]
Almost at the very back of Antoine’s restaurant there’s a small dining room next to the wine cellar. Officially the area has been known as the “1940 Last Room,” but then there was the day that Paul McIlhenny nailed a sign to the door that proclaimed the room to be the “Chez Team Tabasco” room. “Which is it?” I asked CEO Rick Blount, the latest in the long family line to manage the restaurant. Blount expressed no preference, though it should be noted that the walls in the room are painted Tabasco red and that all of the framed pictures are of friends of McIlhenny. Who wants a room called “Last” anyway?
McIlhenny, who died this past February, could do such things because he was affable and because he was powerful. Like Blount, he was the CEO of a long-established family food business, in his case Tabasco. During his time at the helm, McIlhenny saw his family’s hot sauce expand beyond being globally known for its red bottle with a green cap to being a product-marketing brand. There are Tabasco flavored potato chips, liquor, plus the brand name on ties, ice chests and just about anything marketable. And there is the room at the back of Antoine’s.
There are three other rooms in the back of the restaurant: the Rex Room, the Proteus Room and the Escargot Room, which is named after a dining club. In his time, McIlhenny ruled over all three of those, too: He was a Rex. He was King of Proteus. And he served as the Escargot Master Chancellor. Certainly the renamed Tabasco room was a small conquest for him; nevertheless he set a mark that will not likely ever be broken, the only person to have reigned over all four of Antoine’s prestigious rear rooms.
He even reigned when he wasn’t on the throne. McIlhenny was Rex in 2006. That was a relief for Rex watchers because for each of several years preceding that Carnival season there were rumors in Uptown circles that the Tabasco boss would be King of Carnival. McIlhenny reveled in having been Rex’s shill monarch, and seemed to enjoy the ruse as much as the experience. Secrecy prevents knowing if he was ever Comus. He would just smile impishly when asked.
(As an aside, according to an article printed in the very first edition of New Orleans Magazine, published in October 1966, it was in the setting that would one day be known as the Tabasco Room that New Orleans Magazine was founded, over a dinner between executives of Atlanta Magazine and the local Franklin printing company. We take some pride in having Oysters Rockefeller in our DNA.)
I last saw Paul McIlhenny on Lundi Gras afternoon standing in the crowd that gathers outside Antoine’s after the Proteus lunch. Carnival was a fun season for him, but I suspect there’s one season he liked better: duck hunting. He could talk with authority about fowl and how to cook them. Come next fall, there will be one fewer sure-shot for the ducks to worry about, but somewhere in the marsh there should be a duck blind with his name on it. He was king of that, too.