The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) is pleased to announce this year’s Restaurateur of the Year, Hall of Fame Inductee, Associate Member of the Year and Advocate of the Year. The honorees will be recognized at the Five Star Futures Gala, Saturday, August 8, 2015, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom, Hilton New Orleans Riverside. This annual event benefits the LRA Education Foundation (LRAEF).
The 2015 Restaurateur of the Year is Melvin Rodrigue, President & CEO of Galatoire’s Restaurant and Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak in New Orleans and Galatoire’s Bistro in Baton Rouge. Rodrigue joined Galatoire’s as its chief operating officer in 1997, before assuming his current position in 2012. In that time, he has led Galatoire’s to the highest of culinary distinctions, being recognized in 2005 by the James Beard Foundation as the Most Outstanding Restaurant in the United States. He has overseen an extensive renovation of Galatoire’s and the expansion of its brand, opening Galatoire’s Bistro in 2005 and Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak in 2012. Rodrigue served as LRA Chair in 2012 and has been a member of its Board of Directors for the past 13 years. He serves on many other boards and commissions, including serving as president of the Ernest N. Morial Exhibition Hall Authority, the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation. In 2015, Rodrigue was elected to the board of directors of the National Restaurant Association.
The 2015 Hall of Fame Inductee is Chef John Folse, CEC, AAC, founder of the John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University and a partner in Restaurant R’evolution in New Orleans and Seafood Revolution in Ridgeland, Miss. Each year, the LRA recognizes a member who has committed their career to serving our industry and the LRA by induction into the LRA Hall of Fame. Folse has long been considered one of the most influential chefs in Louisiana, and has a worldwide reputation as one of the foremost experts on Cajun and Creole cuisines. Folse’s many awards are a tribute to his passion and willingness to share his talents with others. He opened his first restaurant, Lafitte’s Landing in Donaldsonville, in 1978 and White Oak Plantation in 1986. His body of work in our industry earned him the LRA Restaurateur of the Year award in 1987. He has traveled extensively across the country and internationally, educating the masses about Louisiana’s indigenous cuisine. In 1994, the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute opened at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux. Folse has written nine award-winning cookbooks, created a television series, “A Taste of Louisiana,” and opened a USDA manufacturing plant. To much fanfare in 2012, Folse partnered with Chef Rick Tramonto to open the fine dining restaurant, Restaurant R’evolution in the Royal Sonesta Hotel and added Seafood Revolution in 2014.
The 2015 Associate Member of the Year is Brian Girardot, Brand Support Manager of Community Coffee. The Associate Member of the Year award recognizes a restaurant industry supplier who exemplifies dedication to the LRA’s mission. Girardot is a member of the LRA Board of Directors and also serves on the LRA Northshore Chapter Board of Directors. Girardot has been employed with Community Coffee for the past 24 years. Through his LRA involvement, Community Coffee has exhibited in the LRA’s Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO for the past 29 years, supported the LRAEF ProStart® Program and numerous LRA Chapter philanthropic activities and events. Girardot has been a selfless and faithful volunteer leader for the LRA.
The 2015 Advocate of Year is The Honorable Cedric Richmond, Member of the United States House of Representatives and represents Louisiana’s Second Congressional District. The Advocate of the Year recognizes an individual who has supported the advocacy efforts of the LRA and its partner industries. Representative Richmond currently serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Committee on the Judiciary. As a member of the Committee of Homeland Security, he works to ensure New Orleans and surrounding communities are adequately prepared for any emergency through oversight of FEMA. Representative Richmond has always worked closely with the LRA Advocacy team to promote good public policy that benefits our industry when he was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and in the current position that he holds.
“On behalf of the LRA, I am honored to recognize these award winners and commend them for the work they do not only for their individual businesses, but also for the association and the restaurant and hospitality industries,” said LRA Chair Tony Abadie.
Also during the Five Star Futures Gala, $70,000 in scholarships will be awarded to 33 students to further their post-secondary education in order to pursue careers in the restaurant and hospitality industries. This is made possible through the LRAEF Scholarship Fund, which was established in 2009 to assist individuals pursuing their culinary arts and restaurant management college level education. To date, the LRAEF Scholarship Fund has awarded $270,000 in scholarships to deserving students. The LRAEF will also honor its ProStart Educator of the Year--Judy Achary of Lakeshore High School.
Special thanks to the Five Star Futures Gala sponsors: Ben E. Keith, Crescent Crown Distributing, Hilton New Orleans Riverside, MMI/Mr. Mudbug Catering, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group and Sysco Food Services of New Orleans.
Sponsorships and tickets for the Five Star Futures Gala are available at www.lraef.org/five-star-futures-gala or by calling Kalee Eason at (504) 636-6525.
The LRAEF is grateful to the nine LRA chapters and its LRAEF sponsors: 5 Diamond—Acme Oyster House, Auto-Chlor Services, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Louisiana Restaurant Association, Louisiana Seafood and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation; 4 Diamond—Performance Foodservice-Caro; 3 Diamond—Atmos Energy, Louisiana Culinary Institute, New Orleans Wine & Food Experience and Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers; 2 Diamond—Whole Foods Market.