Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Chef Michael Nelson of GW Fins worked tirelessly with his seafood, produce and meat purveyors to alter their distribution systems in order that they would be able to sell directly to consumers. The affable chef also created cook-at-home meal kits with his signature sauces and glazes paired with his purveyors’ fresh seafood that could be picked up curbside at his French Quarter restaurant for a reasonable price and used to assemble impressive meals at home.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, the altruistic Nelson spearheaded an effort to give back to the hardest-hit fishing communities of Dulac and Theriot, both still without power and potable water over three weeks after Hurricane Ida struck, that he relies on to make his five-star restaurant run.  While those fishermen are usually selling to Nelson to help feed his clientele, this week Nelson and a dozen GW Fins employees showed up with hot meals and meal kits to serve their communities through donations he secured.

Nelson and staff worked from a makeshift kitchen to prepare and give away 900 shrimp poor boys on Tuesday and 850 on Wednesday (as well as thousands of beverages and sides of fries). Residents were also packed off with a couple thousand meal kits containing Jazzmen Rice, Blue Runner beans, Magic Seasoning, Big Shot soda and bottled water.

Can you even begin to imagine the reception they had upon their arrival in these decimated, suffering communities?

So, I am raising my figurative glass to Chef Michael Nelson, one of the nicest people I know. He works hard to give back to his community while providing security to the GW Fins staff.

While Nelson is known for advocating for his staff and his purveyors, Jordan and Amarys Herndon of Palm&Pine have developed reputations as advocates and community builders for those who work in and operate New Orleans’ independent neighborhood restaurants and gathering places. After a year and a half (and counting) of COVID-related closures and most recently Hurricane Ida’s devastation, the Herndons are asking locals to show the love.

Jordan And Amarys Herndon Of Palm Pine
Jordan and Amarys Herndon of Palm & Pine

“Y’all showed up for us in those early days of COVID with to go orders, gift card purchases, and big tips for the team,” the Herndons said. “We haven’t forgotten and hopefully we’ve thanked you with some wonderful experiences with us in the last year. Well, here we are, we need you again. The fourth wave of COVID and Hurricane Ida have been major setbacks for our struggling industry. Right now, it seems we have our wonderful city pretty much to ourselves and it’s time to show up for our favorite places so that we can keep having wonderful experiences there for years to come. It’s not just the restaurants and restaurant workers that are struggling, our farmers and local seafood industry have taken so many hits lately. Show up for us so we can show up for them!

When they are not in the kitchen at Palm&Pine, the civic-minded couple are busy sharing the love and the wealth at their favorite independently-owned spots around the city.  Their hotspots include Black Penny, Parleaux Beer Lab, NLA Art Bar, Fharmacy, Barracuda Tacos, El Pavo Real, Plume Algiers, Kermits Mother-in-Law Lounge, and kin.

For those seeking a change of pace and a peaceful view, consider a trip across the lake to Tchefuncte’s Restaurant, which officially reopened for regular business hours on Tuesday. Located on the Tchefuncte River in Madisonville, the restaurant took on some water and sustained a bit of damage but all of that was resolved quickly.  It is supposed to be a beautiful, cool weekend and the brunch menu really looks sensational. Confit Duck Crepe with herbed cheese filling, sherried veal sauce, and frisee salad? Yes, please. Jumbo Lump Crab Ravigote with roasted artichoke, parmesan, and beurre Monté? Why, yes, again!

That’s it from me for now. Please be kind to one another, and yourselves. We deserve it.