One of 14 Louisiana Chefs Selected to Participate in 2022 North Carolina Culinary Event
Our very own Chef Ernestine “Tootie” Morrison is one of 14 top Louisiana chefs heading to Charlotte, N.C. to feature Louisiana’s unique flavors in several of the area’s top restaurants. The Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, the Louisiana Travel Association, the Louisiana Office of Tourism and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board have partnered to present the “Louisiana X Charlotte Restaurant Night” on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 as part of the Louisiana Culinary Trails tourism marketing campaign.
This extraordinary event combines the culinary expertise of chefs in Louisiana and Charlotte to spice things up in the kitchen and offer Charlotteans a taste of the Bayou State’s vibrant culture and flavorful cuisine. The Louisiana X Charlotte Restaurant Night will feature 28 chefs total at 14 restaurants, each offering a one-of-a-kind experience available at various price points presented as a private ticketed dinner, a prix fixe menu or special featured dishes.
Chef Tootie is an award-winning, critically acclaimed chef and entrepreneur. She is the chef and owner of Earnestly Tootie’s Chef Services, a private chef and catering company established in 2017 in honor of her father, Ernest Scott Jr. Chef Tootie has also recently opened a new Shreveport restaurant, Earnestly Tootie’s, where the menu features her signature Shrimp and Grits Balls along with unique specials like Jerk Chicken Lollipops and Cinnamon Roll Waffles. Her career experiences include receiving a culinary scholarship to travel to Northern Africa where she lived and worked in the village of Zwaiya Ahansal, Morocco for 14 days. She can often be found in the community at local festivals, pop-ups, private events and supper club dinners.
Chef Tootie has been paired with Chef Chayil Johnson, the executive chef at Community Matters Cafe in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. Originally from Laplace, Louisiana, Johnson started studying culinary arts at the age of 12 at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA). He moved to Charlotte to continue his studies and received his degrees in Culinary Arts and Foodservice Entrepreneurship. His food stems from the food memories and experiences of Cajun and Creole cuisine that he grew up with, while also adding the influence of his love for Middle Eastern and Northern African cuisine. His love for the community led him to the doors of Community Matters Cafe, where the core mission is helping the men and women of the Charlotte rescue mission who are battling addiction and substance abuse, by teaching life skills and then implementing them in the setting of the cafe and restaurant.
“Food is a way of life in Louisiana, and our culinary heritage and flavors are unlike anything else in the country,” says Louisiana Travel Association Executive Vice President Laura Cating. “With multiple direct flights to Louisiana, we’re excited to give Charlotte residents a sample of the flavors of Louisiana, inspiring them to make Louisiana their next travel destination.”
Prior to the restaurant night, the SBCTB will also be attending the Restaurant Night Media Preview reception, where the Louisiana chefs will prepare the state’s delicious cuisine with our fresh seafood featured for key influencers, encouraging media to write about the Louisiana culinary experience.
Other participating chefs include:
- Chef Ryan Trahan, Vestal, Lafayette
Chef and Louisiana native Ryan Trahan has found success in his ability to modernize Southern ingredients and dishes. Inspired by elevated hospitality and modern cooking techniques, Trahan’s cuisine features fresh approaches to regional cuisine with global accents. A self-trained chef, Trahan has lent his expertise to multiple acclaimed restaurants throughout South Louisiana. In the Spring of 2021, Trahan opened Vestal, a vibrant, live-fire restaurant, in the heart of Lafayette’s downtown district.
- Chef Madonna Broussard, Laura’s II Café, Lafayette
Madonna Broussard’s grandmother, Laura Williams Broussard, started her first restaurant in her home kitchen in 1968, which was likely Lafayette’s first soul food plate lunch restaurant. A second location was eventually built and run by Laura’s daughter in law, Madonna’s mother. When the time came, Madonna decided to pursue the family business and cook things “the Laura’s way,” and in 2000, Laura’s II was born. Today, Madonna keeps many of Grandma’s original recipes intact, and continues the family tradition of passing on her culinary knowledge to her children.
- Chef Amanda Cusey, Louisiana Seafood Queen 2022 and The Villa Harlequin, Lake Charles
Amanda Cusey, executive chef at Lake Charles’ The Villa Harlequin, began developing her passion for food while growing up in the Southwest United States. Traveling extensively throughout the US and Europe, Chef Amanda received her Cordon Bleu training at the Tante’ Marie Culinary Academy in Surrey, England. After working her way up through the ranks at several restaurants in England and Ireland, Chef Amanda has been embracing her new home and bringing her twist on Italian cuisine to downtown Lake Charles at the Villa Restaurant for the past 5 years. In June 2022, Chef Amanda Cusey became the second-ever Queen of Louisiana Seafood.
- Chef Lyle Broussard, Barstool Sportsbook inside L’Auberge Casino Resort, Lake Charles
Chef Lyle Broussard is known for his Cajun and Creole flavors and his passion for Southwest Louisiana culture and cuisine, dating back to time spent perched next to his grandmother’s stovetop where he developed a passion for food. Chef Broussard‘s love of his local heritage carries over to the menu with authenticity, deep flavors and a simplicity that allows the ingredients to do the talking.
- Chef Ross Dover, Palmettos on the Bayou, Louisiana Northshore
Chef Ross Dover joined Palmettos on the Bayou from Restaurant August in New Orleans, where he was executive chef for three years after having the role of executive sous chef for a couple of years. Prior he worked at Johnny Sanchez Restaurant in New Orleans, working directly with Aarón Sánchez, award-winning chef, TV personality, and cookbook author. Chef Ross is a Louisiana native, born and raised in Houma. He attended Nicholls State University where he studied Culinary Arts at the John Folse Culinary Institute.
- Chef Amanda Birdsong, Cured. On Columbia, Louisiana Northshore
Chef Amanda Birdsong and her partner, Anna Watkins, opened Cured. On Columbia in October 2020. Before opening Cured, Chef Amanda cooked as a way to escape the stress of working in the medical field. A self-trained chef, Chef Amanda shared her passion for food at dinner parties while living in Baton Rouge before moving to St. Tammany Parish. Together, Chef Amanda and Anna created a space everyone can relax, enjoy great food and feel at home. That place is Cured. On Columbia.
- Chef Cory Bahr, Parish Restaurant & Standard Coffee Co., Monroe-West Monroe
Cory Bahr is the owner & founder of Parish Restaurant, Standard Coffee Co. and Heritage Catering in Monroe, Louisiana, where he was born and raised. Cory inherited a passion for the great outdoors and cooking—spending weekends at the family hunting camp, running fishing lines, and hunting whatever was in season. Parish, an homage to what is most important to Cory—community, culture, and culinary heritage—presents an inventive take on classic Southern dishes utilizing live fire cooking that makes use of all the flavors, technique and heritage of his beloved Delta region. He offers honest dishes with a strong sense of place, for which he has earned national recognition.
- Chef Celeste Gill, Chef Celeste Bistro, Baton Rouge
At the tender age of 11, Detroit native Chef Celeste fell in love with Louisiana cuisine. Determined to follow her early calling to become a chef, she received her culinary training in Hawaii. That exposure to Pan Asian cuisine, combined with her love of fresh, “farm to table” ingredients, shaped the unique, enlivened interpretation of Louisiana cuisine that she shares today. Chef Celeste shares her love of Louisiana cuisine through her two locations of Chef Celeste Bistro, catering, through podcasts and webinars, and her Louisiana Honey Mustard and new line of Senior Seasonings.
- Chef Jeremy Langlois, Latil’s Landing at Houmas House, Ascension Parish
Chef Jeremy Langlois began his culinary career the day after his 16th birthday in May of 1995, when he joined Chef John Folse’s White Oak Plantation Team. Chef Folse saw the enthusiasm and the potential in the young protégé and within 7 months he was promoted. Chef Jeremy became the youngest executive chef of any restaurant in DiRONA (Distinguished, Restaurants, of North America), an organization of 750 premiere restaurants in three countries. As executive chef of Houmas House Plantation’s Latil’s Landing Restaurant – named by Esquire Magazine as one of the top twenty best new restaurants in America, he creates dishes in a style that he calls “Nouvelle Louisiane.”
- Chef KJ Townsend, Quizine Quarters, Houma
Chef Kenneth “KJ” Townsend is a Houma native that discovered his passion for cooking from his grandmother. After high school, he moved to Atlanta to hone his cooking skills, later returning home to cook at local restaurants. Following a shopping cart accident in 2015, Chef KJ suffered a fractured heel bone that became infected, ultimately resulting in a lower leg amputation. His health journey didn’t stop his passion for cooking, and with the support of his family, he opened his own restaurant in 2020. Quizine Quarters serves an assortment of southern Cajun dishes.
- Chef Ben Fidelak, Mariner’s, Natchitoches
Chef Ben Fidelak’s passion for cooking started at an early age while working as a line cook in his father’s restaurant in Northern Ontario, Canada. His skills were honed years later when he opened Maison Louisiana Catering in 2001 and then The Levee Restaurant in 2016 with his wife and business partner Keri. They along with their children, Lauren & Graeme, have spent many years traveling the globe in search of adventure and unique dining experiences. Mariner’s Restaurant is the culmination of 20 years of the Fidelaks’ adventures to over 40 unique and amazing countries.
- Chef Johnnie Gale, Crawfish Town USA, St. Martin Parish
Born and raised in South Carolina, Chef Johnnie Gale spent her formative years being influenced by both of her grandmothers. Her summers were spent with her maternal Cajun grandmother down the bayou, in Bell River, who taught her how to cook their old Seafood Cajun Dishes. When Johnnie was not on the bayou, she could be found with her paternal grandmother learning how to can fresh vegetables and cook country-style comfort food. Whether one of Johnnie’s grandmothers was pulling fresh crabs out of the traps or pulling fresh snap beans off the vine, Johnnie learned at an early age how to make the best use of Louisiana’s Treasures for her seafood and vegetable dishes.
- Chef Isaac Toups, Toups’ Meatery, New Orleans
Cooking the food that’s closest to his heart has earned Chef Isaac Toups rave reviews. A three-time James Beard Best Chef of the South Semi-finalist & finalist, Isaac represents the new guard of Cajun chefs and is widely recognized for his updated sophisticated approach to a cuisine that’s best known for deep rustic flavors. His culinary style is the direct result of his New Orleans fine dining experience and Cajun upbringing in a family that has lived in South Louisiana for more than 300 years. Growing up, he developed a deep appreciation for nature, which fuels his steadfast commitment to protecting America’s wetlands today.