If you have followed my writing over the last few years you’ll know I’m a fan of the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute, aka “NOCHI.” I was familiar with them before the pandemic but what I saw them do during that crisis and during Ida was just remarkable.

Which is why I’m remarking on it. Because it’s worthy of remark.

The thing is, NOCHI is not really about disaster relief. It’s a school and a good one as far as I can tell, and they are doing a food hall thing soon that sounds really nifty.

There will be three offerings, which you can find here if you click the link. The first is a barbecue place called Johnny’s. Here is what it says on the website:

Named after the most no-nonsense man he knew, Chad Sabatier created the concept for Johnny’s menu to reflect the straight-forward nature of his grandfather. Experience true Americana with the cohort’s focus on technique. The flavors of this BBQ joint evoke notes of motorcycles, leather jackets and Johnny Cash.

I don’t know that Johnny Cash was a great barbecue cook, or that I want to eat leather jackets, but I like the spirit of the endeavor and I’m pretty sure the food is going to be on point.

The second is a Japanese concept called Kanpai. Here is the blurb on that:

Kanpai is the Japanese word for “cheers”, stated before sitting at a meal as a thank you for the food. Richard Toth’s concept was to bring great Japanese food (that isn’t sushi) to the New Orleans community and the students are excited to share their interpretation with you.

There is a lot of food from Japan that is not sushi, and I am excited to see what these folks are going to do with it.

The third option is perhaps the most interesting – at least to me. It’s Nicaraguan food and that’s just not something we see here very often. One last time, here’s the blurb:

Dale Rivas aimed to bring a taste of Nicaragua to New Orleans with this concept. For him, the flavors of this cuisine creates a feeling of family, of communal meals shared with everyone you love. Petrona is named for his grandmother with a menu that transported this cohort to the verdant lands of his home country, bringing you along for the ride.

There are no menus available as yet for any of the concepts, but I would suggest checking here as the dates they’re open get closer.

Speaking of which, those dates are November 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, 14, 15 and 16. You can make a reservation at 11:00, 11:30, 12:00 or 12:30, but you can also just walk in and there will be takeout service available.

I have been incredibly impressed with the professionalism at NOCHI. I have no doubt that the food these cooks are going to produce will be excellent, and I’m actually pretty excited to taste food from all three of the concepts.

There is another thing happening now, or at least in the not too distant future. This is a popup at Bacchanal, which is an awesome place to begin with but even more awesome when they host people like Mason Hereford, who is doing a Primal Night event there on November 1.

I honestly don’t know what to write about Mason at this point. He’s a famous cat and deserves it but he doesn’t act like it. Does that make sense? I don’t care and more importantly neither does he. Mason and his team at Turkey and the Wolf are doing great stuff and I have no doubt they are going to do great stuff at Bacchanal when they put on the last in a series of benefits that I will again just reproduce for you here:

Primal Nights began in 2017 as a way for Bacchanal to raise money for international nonprofit Pure Water 4 Kids following Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico. The events were such a success that the Bacchanal team kept them going to further encourage community collaboration while giving back to a good cause. Since inception, Primal Nights have raised more than $100,000 for notable local and international causes including the New Orleans Musicians Clinic, Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Capoiera and Brazilian Cultural Arts Center New Orleans, Bike Easy, Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief, No Kid Hungry, Planned Parenthood, NAMI and many more. 

I have very good friends in Puerto Rico and I was fond of this event from the start, but it’s grown from there and Mason’s particular gig is going to benefit the ACLU and the New Orleans Abortion Fund, which are both worthy recipients.

I don’t know what they’re going to cook but I know it will be good and I know there’ll be good wine and other beverages available for purchase. I heartily encourage you to attend and, if you do, I also heartily encourage you to share your experience with me. I swear that I will not disclose anything you tell me unless I am offered money to do so.