Wine, weed, work and other pursuits
Pour Me Something Mister
Foodies and connoisseurs will be rubbing shoulders with 75 top chefs and 175 winemakers pouring 1,000 domestic and international wines at the Grand Tasting extravaganza during the 25th Annual New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (May 25-28). NOWFE’s main event, the Grand Tasting (May 27, 6 p.m.) has moved from the Convention Center to Mardi Gras World. “This venue brings the iconic scenery and culture of New Orleans together for a more unique experience showcasing the décor of Mardi Gras floats where they are created,” says NOWFE Fleur de Lis Culinary Awards coordinator, Kendall Gensler. “The new setting includes an outdoor pavilion and private wharf with stunning views and breezes from the Mississippi River. Guests will walk through the floats and float den to enter the event with the indoor ballroom and the Riverside Plaza flowing freely. The outdoor space will allow for new activations of food and wine.” While the chefs compete for the coveted Fleur de Lis Culinary Awards, guests sample the amazing array of dishes, sip wine and champagne, watch Food Network celebrity cooking demos, a seafood cook-off, strolling jazz bands and a parade. New this year: VIP tickets for the Grand Tasting and Friday night Royal Street Stroll, which debuts its costume contest for Krewe of Cork revelers. The Big Gateaux Show after-party follows the Grand Tasting at 9 p.m. (Marriott Convention Center Ballroom) featuring sexy burlesque starlets, cocktails and a pastry competition with celebrity-chef judges. nowfe.com
The Monroe-based telecom giant, Century Link, has begun construction on its 88-acre New Urbanist neighborhood, Century Village, where residents will have amenities including town centers with walkable shops, parks and restaurants. Robert Daigle, owner of Southern Lifestyle Development (the creators of River Ranch in Lafayette), says the project is designed to draw workers to Century Link and IBM in Monroe, which is becoming a port of technology-based careers. To accomplish this, Daigle did intense research into what millennials want so that Century Village can be a recruiting tool. He notes that the instant demand of the IBM and Century Link employment bases have been essential to the project’s speed. The development is a construction, infrastructure and improvements investment of $150-$175 million into Monroe. Fifty single-family homesites are part of the first phase, which includes 55 percent of the property anchored by a 100,000-square-foot, five-story tower with the top two floors dedicated to IBM.
Calling All Bud Growers
Who says money can’t grow on trees? If you want to invest that $10 million you have socked away in your piggy bank and you’re blessed with a green thumb, LSU is accepting offers from contractors to produce medical marijuana for the state for a new growing operation to be located in an undisclosed East Baton Rouge Parish location. The law dictates that it must be grown indoors and no students can be involved. A contractor is to be hired by June. The first crop should be ready by the end of 2017.
Lake Charles, Lafayette
USA Tourism’s Tale of Two Cities
In their “Flavors of the USA” series, the official YouTube channel of United States Tourism recently featured both Lake Charles and Lafayette as “two delectable stops on Louisiana’s culinary trails” and noted that both cities have a “thriving cultural scene.”
Up, Up and Away
If you’re looking to do something snazzy and daring for Mother’s Day (May 14), consider taking your favorite mom on a helicopter ride, departing from the Contraband Days festival grounds in Lake Charles (May 4-14). The action-packed fest offers everything from pirate parades to pirogue building contests, barbecue cook-offs, a firefighter combat challenge, amateur baking contests, flyboarding (jet propulsion lifts you 45 feet in the air across the lake), canon demonstrations and amazing fireworks (contraband-days.com).