Brigtsen’s Restaurant has called Dante Street home since 1986. The contemporary Louisiana restaurant in the Uptown Riverbend neighborhood recently celebrated its 36th anniversary, and this month they celebrate a 34-year membership with the Louisiana Restaurant Association. On top of these two milestones, Chef Brigtsen is adding a third by receiving the 2022 Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award, presented by the New Orleans Food & Wine Experience.
Chef Brigtsen recalls a fond memory of Ella Brennan that still inspires him today. Back when it was Brennan’s Vieux Carre Restaurant, she would knock door-to-door on neighboring restaurants and bars to foster a strong restaurant community.
“She felt that if they came together and marketed themselves as a group, good things would happen. It wasn’t about competition, but community,” Chef Brigtsen said. “The LRA is a prime example of how productive and powerful we can be when we stand together. Their representation in our State Legislature and the U.S. Congress has been instrumental in keeping our industry a vital part of our culture and economy.”
A membership with the LRA has many benefits for business owners, like the Workers’ Compensation Program. This program has served as the model for other restaurant association funds throughout the country. Their diligent claims administration, expert loss prevention, and conservative underwriting make the program successful.
“The LRA Workers’ Compensation Program has been an affordable way to protect our staff,” said Chef Brigtsen. “We receive dividends every year for maintaining safety in our workplace.”
The LRA Education Foundation promotes the restaurant industry as a career choice for young students seeking a rewarding career in culinary and hospitality. Chef Brigtsen has been involved with the Education Foundation for years, mentoring ProStart graduates who wish to follow in his footsteps. His passion is teaching and sharing through food. For 15 years, he taught public cooking classes at the New Orleans Cooking Experience, sharing his love for America’s greatest regional cuisine.
He also teaches Contemporary Creole/Acadian cuisine as Adjunct Professor at the John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University. He serves as the inaugural Chef-in-Residence for the Culinary Arts program at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA).
“The Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award is the pinnacle of my 50-year career,” said Chef Brigtsen. “The fact that I started out at Commander’s Palace as a young apprentice makes it all the more meaningful.”
All three of these significant life events have deepened Chef Brigtsen’s love for the state of Louisiana, and the hospitality industry that is so deeply rooted in New Orleans.
“Miss Ella and Chef Paul Prudhomme, who hired me there, have been the two major influences in my professional life,” Chef Brigtsen said. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world. To be a Chef in America’s greatest food city, and contribute to its evolving culture, has been a distinct privilege. I am deeply grateful.”
The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) was established in 1946 to advocate on behalf of the state’s foodservice and hospitality industries.