Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Welcome to New York, Southern Boy

I never thought the day would come... but it did.

An apartment, on the Upper West Side. On the park. Wow. This is exciting stuff.

Yes, I am a television and multimedia producer.... but I am also a self-proclaimed foodie, always was, always will be. I grew up watching my Papa cook "rabbit sauce piquant" and ''chicken and dumplings".... my momma "shrimp and Okra gumbo" and just about everything else. By the time I was in high school, I was a decent cook who loved to eat... and found my way into the pantry of the Baton Rouge Country Club, washing salad and prepping fruit plates.

By the time I was in college, I was working the pasta/pizza station at the famed Fedora Cafe and Bar on the plaza in Kansas City (a perfect college job for a kid like me)... and I was a goner. I loved the business.... creating, testing, cooking, eating. I would flirt with it for years.

Over the coming years I grew into a much better cook.... with a great deal of knowledge thanks to a line of patient chefs. At age 26, I opened my first restaurant, "Beignet's Louisiana Kitchen" in Chicago's Gold Coast. Named to Chicago's "Top 10 Restaurants Under $10" by the Chicago Tribune in it's first year, I later left the business to travel to Los Angeles to work my day job.... that of a television/film animation producer.

The bug did bite again years later, and in 2005 I opened a Cuban-by-day/Spanish Tapas-by-night spot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana called "Lava Room"... but after only 4 months, Hurricane Katrina had a huge impact on our young upstart... and closed the doors forever.

Now in New York, I return to the ranks of restaurant lover. Of course, I have a different angle than some, having served as owner and chef in several of my own stores. But the one thing I do have in common is the joy of discovering magical spaces where it all comes together.... the room, the food, the service, the wine, the experience.

I hope you'll enjoy my travels throughout the neighborhoods of NYC discussing food... as well as my travels abroad. I have eaten at literally thousands of spots across the globe, and love sharing stories of crispy pierogies in Warsaw and buttery lobsters in Spain.

I've had a few amazing meals here in the city since I've arrived, and I can't wait to share my findings (ok...Lupa, Otto, Pesce Pasta, Gennaro, Leiderhosen and numerous others are coming). I like hot dogs off the street and spicy tuna rolls. Popcorn and filet mignon. Mac and Cheese and grilled oysters. Well, you get the picture. No pretentious garb here... just honest experiences... and a few killer recipes along the way. Like the one posted below.

See you next week!

  • André’s Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

    2 cups oil or BACON GREASE
    5 lbs uncooked rice (mahatma is fine)
    6 pounds chicken (thighs work great, also legs)
    6 pounds sausage, sliced
    4 lbs white onions, chopped fine
    2 bunches green onions, chopped fine
    2 pounds celery (2 bunches), chopped fine
    2 pounds (6-8) green bell peppers, chopped fine
    3 tbs. Minced Garlic
    15 cups chicken broth or stock
    ½ cup crystal hot sauce
    ½ cup lea and perrins
    1 bunch parsley


    Season your raw chicken with Cajun seasoning (Tonys, etc) Cayenne pepper will also work. If using bacon grease, fry one pound of bacon very well in you heated jambalaya pot. Remove bacon, save and eat with your beer while you cook. Add you chicken pieces to hot grease. Fry until golden brown, remove and set aside. Add sausage and cook until pieces are nice and browned. Remove sausage. Remove almost all grease from pot. Add onions, celery, garlic and bell pepper and cook until golden brown. If onions start to stick, add small amount of water. Be careful not to burn onions. When onion mixture is cooked, add chicken and sausage, chicken stock, salt, pepper, lea and perrins, hot sauce, parsely, salt and pepper to taste (maybe 2 tbs of salt and 2 pepper) and green onions. If you need a darker color, you can use kitchen bouquet. Bring to a boil and stir. Add rice and stir again. Cook approximately 20 minutes on low heat. Remove lid and turn rice over. Do not stir a lot! Replace lid and cook approximately 10 more minutes. Then, do not open pot….turn off the fire, leave the lid on, and let Jambalaya rest 20 MINUTES with the LID ON. Remove lid and fluff Jambalaya. Should be perfect!!!

    Serve with white or French bread and Miller Lite, and you too will be a coonass.

    ** you can adjust the rice and chicken stock…. Just remember to use 2 parts liquid to 1 part rice.