NEW ORLEANS (press release) — The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) has announced that the 2020 Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award will be presented to Louisiana’s culinary ambassador to the world, Chef John Folse. The gala celebration will take place on Jan. 29, 2020 at 7 p.m. at the Ritz-Carlton. “The breadth of Chef Folse’s contributions to the hospitality and culinary industry, as well as his support of so many non-profit organizations, cannot be understated,” said Ewell Smith, incoming NOWFE president. “It’s difficult to imagine a more deserving recipient of this honor.”
Chef John Folse, born in St. James Parish in 1946, learned early that the secrets of Cajun cooking lay in the unique ingredients of Louisiana’s swamp floor pantry. Folse seasoned these raw ingredients with his passion for Louisiana culture and cuisine, and from his cast iron pots emerged Chef John Folse & Company. When Folse opened Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant in 1978 in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, he set out to market his restaurant by taking “a taste of Louisiana” worldwide, including Japan, Beijing, Hong Kong, Paris, Moscow, London, Bogota, Taipei and Seoul. In 1988, the sales and marketing executives of Greater Baton Rouge named Folse “Marketer of the Year” and the Louisiana Legislature gave him the title of “Louisiana’s Culinary Ambassador to the World.”
Folse opened The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana in October 1994. It is dedicated to the preservation of Louisiana’s rich culinary and cultural heritage. In August 1996, Folse began broadcasting his radio cooking talk show, “Stirrin’ It Up.” In 2001, “Stirrin’ It Up” expanded to a television cooking segment during the 5 p.m. newscast on WAFB-TV Channel 9 in Baton Rouge. In 2010, Folse announced his business partnership with Chef Rick Tramonto and the formation of the new restaurant development company Home on the Range: Folse Tramonto Restaurant Development, LLC. The partners opened, Restaurant R’evolution, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans in June 2012. Folse is also the author of nine cookbooks, including Chef John Folse’s Plantation Celebrations (1994), The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine (2004), and After the Hunt-Louisiana’s Authoritative Collection of Wild Game & Game Fish Cookery (2007).
Folse has received numerous national and international accolades over the course of his 30-plus year career. Some of those awards include the American Culinary Federation’s “National Chef of the Year” and Research Chefs Association’s “Pioneers in Culinology” and later the Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the only chef ever to serve as chairman or president of the American Culinary Federation, DiRoNA, and the Research Chefs Association. In 2006, Folse was inducted into the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s College of Diplomates. In October 2008, Folse was awarded the Louisiana Governor’s Cultural Economic Development Arts Award. He holds honorary Doctorates of Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, and Baltimore International Culinary College. Folse’s contributions to philanthropic causes are abundant and include Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center and Sister Maria Dulce, the Archdiocese of New Orleans Retreat Center, Redstick Farmers Market in Baton Rouge, among many others.
The Ella Brennan Award recognizes one individual each year that has made a lifetime commitment to the hospitality industry through extraordinary leadership, personal and professional accomplishments and philanthropic contributions to the community. The Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award is named for restaurateur legend Ella Brennan. Her deep passion and commitment has made a significant and longstanding impact on the New Orleans hospitality industry. The award’s past recipients include Chef Paul Prudhomme, philanthropist Bill Goldring, Chef Leah Chase, restaurateurs Drago and Klara Cvitanovich, Audubon leader Ron Forman, local restaurateur Ralph Brennan, celebrity chef and philanthropist Emeril Lagasse, and tourism industry icon Mark Romig.
Tickets to the event are now available at nowfe.com for $175 per person, or $1500 per table. VIP tables for 10 are also available for $2500 and include entrance to the VIP reception from 6 -7 p.m. Proceeds from the awards gala benefit the many local non-profit organizations that NOWFE supports throughout the year.
NOWFE 2020 is set for March 18 – 22, 2020.