At the age of 43, several events transpired that led Misty White to the decision to abandon her former life in Texas and head towards one that has always brought her happiness—culinary arts at home in Louisiana.
“For 20 years, I worked in oil and gas and in real estate,” White said. “While being a Landman was interesting, negotiating leases for running a pipeline across someone’s property just never resulted in me being the hero. Real estate was thrilling. I got to hunt for the perfect properties and meet so many different people, but it was really my ex-husbands passion and working on commission was unnerving.”
However, it was what transpired next that was the final push. Her 84-year-old grandmother who raised her had a stroke and was home in Louisiana. She and her 25-year-old son wanted to be there too. And so, she moved home to Independence, enrolled at the Louisiana Culinary Institute in Baton Rouge and just started a new job at LRA Member Red Stick Spice Company.
“My grandmother is paralyzed on one side of her body,” she explained. “But she gets around…washes clothes and tends to her garden, even last night she made me white beans.”
She’s finally doing something for herself. She’s living her dream of going to culinary school and becoming a chef. Her children are grown and she’s close to her grandmother. Right now, she’s catering and plans to take her the skills and techniques she gains at LCI and scale it for large events and festivals.
White is one of 24 Scholars to receive financial support from the LRA Education Foundation at the 3rd Annual Serving the Future, Celebrating Careers in Hospitality event March 21 in New Orleans.
“Receiving the LRAEF Scholarship is a tremendous help to me. I’m extremely grateful,” she said.
The restaurant industry is the largest employer in Louisiana and will only continue to grow as more people rely on restaurants for their meals. With two decades of transferable work experience paired with her culinary arts education at Louisiana Culinary Institute, we are positive that great things are in store for White and our industry with her in it.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) will host the 18th Annual Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers Louisiana ProStart® Invitational, March 21-22, 2019 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center in Hall J. Under a multi-year partnership, Raising Cane’s has expanded its prior commitment to the Invitational.
There is over $1 million in scholarships available to students whose team places in the top five in both the culinary and management competitions.
“Our ProStart students pair our world renowned cuisine with the ProStart curriculum as well as creating their own vision for what the future restaurants in Louisiana will look like,” said Stan Harris, LRA President & CEO. “It is remarkable to see these students engage during the Invitational utilizing what they’ve learned in their ProStart classrooms that can help them find success in the restaurant industry or any career path—teamwork, presentation skills, communications and critical thinking. And while pursuing post-secondary education might be an option for some, our industry has an array of career paths that don’t require an advanced degree.”
ProStart is a national, two-year culinary arts and restaurant management curriculum for high school students that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s restaurant industry leaders. By uniting the classroom and the industry, ProStart gives students a platform to discover new interests and talents and opens doors for fulfilling careers. Students who pursue the industry-based credential, the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF) Certificate of Achievement, must complete a 400-hour internship, where they use their classroom skills in industry roles. ProStart provides career pathways and a solid foundation for the varied career options offered in the restaurant and hospitality industry. The expansive possibilities are in multiple roles and disciplines in such a broad industry. Many LRA members serve as classroom mentors to ProStart students and provide work experience as well.
The Invitational will showcase the culinary and academic talents of high school junior and senior ProStart students from 25 high schools across Louisiana. The invitational features two primary components: the Management Competition and the Culinary Competition. The Opening Ceremony begins Thursday, March 21 at 9 a.m. in Hall J.
During the Management Competition, Thursday, March 21 from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m., teams will demonstrate their knowledge of the restaurant and foodservice industry by developing their own restaurant concept, including the menu, design, budget and marketing strategies which they present to a panel of judges similar to what an entrepreneur would pitch to a group of investors.
Judges include: Stephen Hightower, co-owner of City Pork Hospitality; Dr. Yvette Green, Director of the Lester Kabacoff School of Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism at UNO; Ryan Haro, general manager at Manning’s; Stephen Pate, general manager of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and Danny Caudle, Managing Partner at Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers; among others.
Teams participating in the Culinary Competition, Friday, March 22 from 8 a.m.-2:15 p.m. will demonstrate their creative teamwork and communication abilities through the preparation of a three-course, restaurant quality meal. Judges from the restaurant industry and post-secondary educational institutions will observe and measure their performance against the competition criteria.
Judges volunteering their time and expertise include: Chef Joshua Hebert of The Cabin & Bernadette’s Table; Billy Mick, general manager of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers; Chef Jason Goodenough, owner of Carrollton Market; Chef Marcelle Bienvenu, an instructor at Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University and Chef Owen Hohl of Hot Tails; among others.
The Closing Awards Ceremony concludes the two-day event, Friday, March 22 at 3:30 p.m. in Hall J and will feature keynote speaker Robért LeBlanc, owner and creative director of LeBlanc + Smith, a boutique hospitality group which includes Meauxbar, Sylvain, Cavan, Barrel Proof and Longway Tavern.
“Raising Cane’s is the result of lots of hard work and passion. ProStart ignites those ideals in students making this program invaluable to the restaurant industry,” said Todd Graves, CEO, Fry Cook and Cashier, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers. “The students participating in the Raising Cane’s ProStart Management Competition will pitch restaurant concepts and with their hard work, passion and the program’s foundation will become our next generation of restaurant leaders.”
The 2019 Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers Louisiana ProStart Invitational also wishes to recognize the financial support of our Annual Partners: Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Auto Chlor System, Acme Oyster House, Louisiana Restaurant Association, National Restaurant Association Education Foundation, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Baton Rouge Epicurean Society, Performance Food Group, Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Fore!Kids Foundation, TABASCO®, PJ's Coffee, B & G Food Enterprises and Sysco.
The participating schools in each competition are:
Academy of Our Lady
Chalmette High School
Donaldsonville High School
East St. John High School
Hammond High Magnet School
Lakeshore High School
North Vermilion High School
Saline High School
Sulphur High School
W.D. & Mary Baker Smith Career Center
West Feliciana High School
West Monroe High School
Abbeville High School
Chalmette High School
Denham Springs High School
East Iberville High School
Fontainebleau High School
Hammond High Magnet School
Jefferson Davis Parish ProStart
Lakeshore High School
Leesville High School
Live Oak High School
Morgan City High School
North Vermilion High School
Saline High School
Salmen High School
Slidell High School
St. Charles Satellite Center
Sulphur High School
W.D. & Mary Baker Smith Career Center
West Feliciana High School
West Monroe High School
West St. John High School
Woodlawn High School
In addition to scholarships, the LRA provides airfare and accommodations for the first place culinary and management competition teams to represent Louisiana at the National ProStart Invitational, May 8-10, 2019 in Washington D.C.
Twenty years have passed since Dustin Rockwell got his high school GED. At the time, he didn’t feel like college was an option, he had the necessary support or quite frankly, he would do well. He, like many others, went straight to work and for years, went job to job in search of one that would fulfill him.
“A couple of years ago I leased a property in Ruston, Louisiana, and opened a coffee shop,” Rockwell recalls. “For a year or so, I did okay with it, but growing it into more didn’t seem possible, so I closed the doors when the lease was up.”
What became evident to him was that he needed to go back to school and learn how to really run a restaurant, or in his case, a café. Rockwell was worried that he had been so far removed from a classroom that going to college and doing well might be impossible.
“I stopped listening to that voice that said I wasn’t going to cut it and now I’m a junior at Chef John Folse Culinary Institute,” he said. “I made a promise to myself to give it all I’ve got.”
While at the beginning of his college career he thought it’d be awkward with his peers being so much younger, he actually gets along great with his classmates and feels like he’s a role model of sorts for them.
The restaurant industry is home to a diverse workforce and because of the broad array of opportunities that exist for individuals, the paths are not always conventional. It is for individuals like Rockwell that the LRA Education Foundation offers scholarships to annually, in addition to those it awards to traditional students.
This second shot at a higher education and his faith in himself earned him the coveted and prestigious Jim Funk Scholarship this year. Rockwell and 23 others will be recognized as LRAEF Scholars, March 21 at the 3rd Annual Serving the Future, Celebrating Careers in Hospitality event at Generations Hall in New Orleans.
The LRAEF Scholarship Fund was created in 2009 to provide financial support for individuals interested in furthering their education to support a career in the culinary, hospitality or related industries. The Jim Funk Scholarship is named for former LRA President & CEO who guided the creation of the LRAEF during his 30 years with the organization.
“I would tell anyone thinking about going to school later in life to just do it!” he exclaimed. “I don’t regret it for a second and I’m thankful for the LRAEF for helping me get there.”
The LRA will certainly be tracking his progress as he intends to open a café offering coffee, soup, salads and sandwiches and of course, specials of the day.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) Board of Directors, through its Scholarship Fund, will award $52,500 in scholarships to 24 individuals. These LRAEF Scholars will be honored at the event, “Serving the Future—Celebrating Careers in Hospitality,” March 21, 2019, at Generations Hall in New Orleans.
The LRAEF Scholarship Fund was created in 2009 to provide financial support for individuals interested in furthering their education to support a career in the culinary, hospitality, or related industries. Since its inception, the Scholarship Fund has awarded nearly $500,000 to deserving students.
The LRAEF’s most prestigious award, the Jim Funk Scholarship, is named for the former LRA President & CEO who guided the creation of the LRAEF during his 30 years with the organization. This year’s scholar of the Jim Funk Scholarship is Dustin Rockwell. Rockwell graduated from Slidell High School in 1998 and now attends Nicholls State University where he majors in culinary arts. He is a second year recipient of an LRAEF Scholarship award.
Rockwell returned to school to achieve a better understanding of how to operate a successful café. He hopes to travel to Institut Paul Bocuse in France for his senior internship to broaden his horizons and pick up new skills.
The LRAEF ProStart® Scholarship is presented to students who have or will receive the National ProStart Certificate of Achievement. This year’s scholars are:
The LRA Board Fund Scholarship is presented to students who intend to pursue a career in the restaurant, foodservice, tourism or hospitality industry. This Fund is supported through a generous annual donation by the LRA Board of Directors. This year’s scholars are:
The Louisiana Seafood Scholarship was established through a generous gift from the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. This is awarded to qualified applicants who show an interest in cultivating, protecting and promoting Louisiana seafood. This year’s scholar is:
The LRAEF will also honor its ProStart Educator of Excellence, Elena Hodges of Chalmette High School in Chalmette. Hodges will also be recognized in May, along with her counterparts from across the country, at the National Restaurant Association’s Educator of Excellence Awards in Chicago, for her exemplary dedication to the ProStart program.
The LRAEF wishes to recognize the financial support of our Annual Partners: Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Auto Chlor System, Acme Oyster House, National Restaurant Association Education Foundation, Louisiana Restaurant Association, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Baton Rouge Epicurean Society, Performance Food Group, Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Fore!Kids Foundation, TABASCO®, PJ's Coffee, B&G Food Enterprises and Sysco.
"Dine & Wine Under the Vines," the LRA Northeast Chapter's newest event that was scheduled for this Saturday, March 7, has been postponed until April 27 due to inclement weather in the West Monroe area. For more information, please contact Angela Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or (318) 299-6738.
During Pouring Priorities: The Good, The Bad & The Compliant, ATC Commissioner Lombard spoke of the seemingly overnight explosion of CBD oils and other products. We’ve noticed it too. A drive along I-10 into New Orleans yields billboards promoting the products and the Feb. 19 issue of Gambit Weekly contains at least five pages of advertising and editorial content directing readers on where to buy CBD oil.
The federal government has recently enacted legislation which legalizes CBD products to some extent. Specifically, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 changes laws related to the production and marketing of hemp (Cannabis sativa L) and derivatives of cannabis with less than 0.3 present THC. Hemp has been removed from the Controlled Substances Act. Read more here.
However, Louisiana statutes do not reflect these changes. “This issue is growing more and more difficult to manage,” Lombard said. “Recently, the Pharmacy Board released its opinion which determined all CBD products are derivative of marijuana and thus are illegal.”
The ATC has put forth guidance which prohibits the sale of CBD products which contain any amount of THC (or other prohibited substances).
“There’s a secondary level to all of this,” said added. “The big issue is that technically the FDA has never said these products or derivatives are legal to be used in food products. However, there is a whole line of food and beverage products now. We have applications pending for Hemp Vodka. We have just pulled CBD water off the shelves of one of the major stores.”
She anticipated that an industrial hemp bill would be introduced in the 2019 Regular Legislative Session, however, advised LRA members to hold off on investing in the products until we know where Louisiana stands on this issue. To watch the ATC Commissioners full presentation on CBD products, click here and advance to 13:55-18:00.
Lieutenant Governor Nungesser Announces Search for Chefs for the Annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off in Lafayette
Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board have begun the search for chefs to participate in the 12th Annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off, which will be held Tuesday, June 18, at the Cajundome Convention Center in Lafayette. Chefs from across the state who meet the eligibility standards are invited to submit applications by the Friday, April 12, deadline.
“Louisiana is a place where you can Feed Your Soul, and what better way to do just that than by cooking up some of the best seafood in the world found right here in our state. Louisiana is the largest seafood producer in the contiguous U.S. and the quality is unsurpassed, which is why our chefs say, ‘Know Better, Eat Better’,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “The winner of the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off plays a very important role in educating people from around the world on the flavor and sustainability of Louisiana seafood, which is a core piece of our culture, from fine dining to backyard boils.”
For the third consecutive year the event is being held in Lafayette, the city said to have more restaurants per capita than any other American city. Lafayette also holds the distinction of being the “Tastiest Town in the South” by AAA Southern Traveler and “Happiest City in America” by Wall Street Journal Market Watch in 2014. Many of the restaurants that have helped earn those titles will be a part of the event serving samples to spectators as a part of the opening event for Eat Lafayette, which will take place in conjunction with the Cook-Off.
In addition to earning the title of King or Queen of Louisiana Seafood, the winner will represent the state at a variety of events including the Great American Seafood Cook-Off taking place in conjunction with the Louisiana Restaurant Association EXPO in New Orleans on August 3, which is also hosted by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.
Previous winners of the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off include:
Entrants must be an executive chef for a free-standing Louisiana restaurant belonging to the Louisiana Restaurant Association, a proud partner in both the Louisiana and Great American Seafood Cook-Offs. Entry forms, information on previous cook-offs, and updates on the event may be found at www.LouisianaSeafood.com.
“Our continued hope with having the cook-off in Lafayette is to draw attention to the fact that the state’s top chefs and great seafood can be found anywhere from our largest cities to our smallest towns,” said Lt. Gov. Nungesser. “The event itself will continue to enjoy a little extra seasoning by taking place where the Cajun and Creole cultures thrive. I know our Lafayette hosts will make this a memorable evening for competing chefs and spectators alike for the third year in a row.”
Follow @LaSeafoodBoard on Instagram and Twitter and keep up will all Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off (LASCO) events via the official hashtag, #LASCO19.
If you would like to participate in the 2019 Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off, please apply below.
Barry Landry, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism
Julio Guichard , Office of the Lieutenant Governor
During her Pouring Priorities presentation on February 12, ATC Commissioner Juana Marine-Lombard shared with members the new Louisiana Wallet—a digital driver’s license app that can now be used as identification to buy beer, liquor and cigarettes. A new rule published by the ATC authorizes the LA Wallet cellphone app for age verification.
While it’s free to download, it requires a $5.99 purchase to use the app for legal identification. The app enables cellphones to display an image of the physical driver’s license, the only form of electronic identification recognized and accepted in Louisiana.
Under the new ATC rule, retailers must train employees before they start accepting the digital driver’s license for alcohol and tobacco purchases. Retailers also still will have the right to ask for a physical form of identification.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) is pleased to name two new Restaurant Partnership Legends from PJ’s Coffee in New Orleans. Doralene Quinn and Brian K. Beck were recognized at a private ceremony at PJ’s Coffee Roasting Facility on Tuesday, January 29, 2019.
The Restaurant Partnership Legends Award recognizes the long-term dedication of employees of the restaurant industry, with 20 or more years of service at an establishment.
With over 55 years of combined service, these two employees exemplify what it means to have a rewarding career in our industry. Quinn has been with PJ’s since 1994.
Quinn is known for being a dedicated and committed employee of the brand, with her focus and attention to detail making her stand out among her peers for the last 25 years. She is an expert in her department of packaging coordination, quality control review and inventory allocation, and she enjoys educating others. In her free time, she spends time with family and gives back to the community by brewing PJ’s coffee at senior retirement homes.
“Since the beginning, Doralene has been a shining star and a bright light for all of our staff. She’s very committed to what she does,” said Steve Ballard, co-founder of Ballard Brands, a food service business that operates PJ’s Coffee. “She’s so excitable, and she and her entire family are very dedicated to PJ’s coffee and everything we represent. She truly is a legend to PJ’s.”
Beck has been with PJ’s since 1989. He has become the “Jack of All Trades” throughout his 30 years because of his curious and helpful nature. Back when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, he slept at the PJ’s Roasting Facility for weeks to ensure coffee was still being distributed to the highest level.
“Nothing says commitment more than Brian and his actions,” continued Steve Ballard. “While the city was being rebuilt, he was making sure coffee was getting put out at a high level with no sacrifice to the quality that we present because he truly is a legend around here.”
Quinn and Beck join the 262 individuals in our state recognized by the LRA through its Restaurant Legends program. Collectively, these industry professionals have nearly 5,000 years of service to Louisiana restaurants and suppliers.
The Louisiana Department of Health, Sanitarian Services is now offering free Food Safety Fundamentals Workshops led by Louisiana Health Inspectors.
To schedule your workshop or for more information contact any of the Quality Assurance Directors below:
Chasity Cheramie – (318) 294-1767 or Chasity.Cheramie@la.gov
Tenney Sibley – (225) 342-7547 or Tenney.Sibley@la.gov
Dane Thibodeaux – (337) 475-3146 or Dane.email@example.com