Restaurant August is chef John Besh’s flagship restaurant and one of the best restaurants in New Orleans. It is a place where inventive, delicious food is served in an elegant setting. Until recently the brain behind most of that food was chef Mike Gulotta, who had served as chef de cuisine at August since 2007. Chef Gulotta left Restaurant August in, appropriately, August, and by the time you read this, may already have opened his new Southeast Asian-inspired restaurant, MoPho (514 City Park Ave.) near Delgado’s Mid-City campus. MoPho doesn’t have a phone number yet, but as the restaurant is located about seven blocks from my home, expect to read more about it here in a few months.
Chef Gulotta’s position at Restaurant August (301 Tchoupitoulas St.) has been filled by chef Todd Pulsinelli, who has been with chef Besh’s restaurant group for close to a decade. Chef Pulsinelli most recently served as executive chef at Besh Steak in Harrah’s Casino, but before that was at Domenica and American Sector. Chef Pulsinelli was born in Germany and raised in Ohio, which is located somewhere to the north of Louisiana, I believe. Do not expect a sea-change at August. While some of the menu items are changing, the aesthetic approach today is pretty much the same as it was under Gulotta; chef Pulsinelli has added a few items to the menu, and will undoubtedly add more, but August will always serve locally sourced products, prepared with serious attention to detail. Again, look for more about how August evolves under Pulsinelli’s leadership as it occurs. You can reach the restaurant by calling 299-9777.
Chef Richard Bickford
Chef Bickford was named executive chef at Tujague’s restaurant (823 Decatur St.) around the same time that chef Pulsinelli took over at August. The difference is that Tujague’s hasn’t historically had a “named chef” in its kitchen. Another change: there’s now an à la carte menu in addition to the classic table d’hôte menu with shrimp remoulade and Creole brisket. Chef Bickford comes to Tujague’s by way of Commander’s Palace and SoBou, and he’s added items such as softshell crab BLT, brisket poor boy and gnocchi with crab and mushroom to the menu’s more traditional offerings. It is an interesting time for the city’s second-oldest restaurant, and I’m sure not everyone will greet the changes enthusiastically, but not very long ago there was a question whether Tujague’s would still exist as a restaurant. The fact that it’s still around is a testament to the passion local diners have for classic restaurants, and a testament to the enduring quality of Creole food. You can make a reservation by calling 525-8676.
Closing on the classic New Orleans restaurant note, Broussard’s (819 Conti St.) has re-opened after changing ownership over the summer. When I heard that chef Gunther Preuss and his wife Evelyn had sold their French Quarter restaurant to Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts I was concerned, not just because I have, every year for the last decade or so, spent some time in the courtyard of Broussard’s on the Friday before Mardi Gras. I am lucky to have Andreas Preuss, son of Gunther and Evelyn as a friend and co-conspirator in certain Carnival-related activities. Then, too, I have to admit that the other restaurants operated by Creole Cuisine seemed to be aimed at tourists rather than locals. Then I saw that the same folks were opening Kingfish, and had hired chef Greg Sonnier, and that Chris Ycaza was involved in the front-of-house at the new Broussard’s, and my concerns were allayed. The renovation to the place, which was already beautiful, has been fantastic, and chef Guy Reinbolt will, if nothing else, continue the tradition of having a chef fluent in German in the kitchen at Broussard’s. Chef Reinbolt is French, but from a town near Alsace, so there’s that. He has most recently been the executive chef at the Sheraton New Orleans, and one would think the new gig will give him a chance to engage his creative side more than the former. Broussard’s can be reached by calling 581-3866.