Nicholls to honor culinary pros with annual feast

THIBODAUX – Celebrate Louisiana’s culinary tradition Monday, March 9, at the 12th annual Lafcadio Hearn Award Dinner and Distinguished Visiting Chef Series, presented by the John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University.

The event will honor Susan Spicer, executive chef and co-owner of Bayona Restaurant in New Orleans. The Lafcadio Hearn award is given to culinary professionals who have had a long-term, positive influence on the cuisine and culture of Louisiana and the nation. Hearn, who died in 1904, wrote a series of books and articles that introduced New Orleans to the world and helped document Creole cuisine for future generations.

The evening’s dinner will feature dishes created by distinguished visiting chef Stephen Stryjewski, chef and co-owner of Cochon Restaurant in New Orleans. The menu will include Duck Liver Terrine with Pepper Jelly and Smoked Candied Pecans; Shaved Mushroom Salad with Deep Fried Jerky, Herbs and Local Goat Cheese; Smothered, Smoked Pork Shoulder with Sauerkraut; and Vinegar Pie with Strawberries.

Stryjewski’s culinary experience is extensive. Educated at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., he later traveled throughout Europe to research various culinary traditions. Upon his return home, he worked in such establishments as Tra Vigne in the Napa Valley of California; Commander’s Palace in New Orleans; the Blue Point Bar and Grill in the Outer Banks of North Carolina; and Vidalia Restaurant in Washington, D.C. Ultimately settling in New Orleans, Stryjewski helped open Dante’s Kitchen and later joined Herbsaint Restaurant, where he became sous chef. He later co-founded Cochon with Herbsaint owner and chef, Donald Link. Cochon features regional cuisine, local ingredients and homemade products in a small plate format.

Honoree Susan Spicer’s contributions to the culinary arts are evident via her numerous awards and honors. They include Food and Wine’s Best New Chefs Award in 1989; the James Beard Award for Best Chef, Southeast Region, in 1993; Mondavi Culinary Excellence Award in 1995; induction into Food and Wine’s Best New Chef Hall of Fame in 2008; and New Orleans Magazine’s Best New Cookbook award in 2008. In addition, Bayona Restaurant was featured as a 1996 Ivy Award winner for Restaurants and Institutions, and in 1998 the restaurant was named to the Nation’s Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame. Bayona was also awarded “5 Beans” – the highest restaurant rating by the New Orleans Times Picayune – and has been listed since 1995 as one of the top five New Orleans restaurants by the Zagat Guide for New Orleans.

The award dinner will begin with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m., followed by the distinguished visiting chef’s presentation and dinner at 7 p.m., all at Cypress Columns, located at 157 Tourist Drive in Gray. For ticket information, call (985) 449-7114.

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