BATON ROUGE, La. – Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board have begun the search for chefs to participate in the 15th Annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off, which will be held Tuesday, June 7, 2022, 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, May 6, 2022, deadline.
“Louisiana is a place where you can Feed Your Soul with great seafood found in our largest cities all the way to our smallest towns. As the largest seafood producer in the contiguous U.S., the quality of Louisiana seafood is unsurpassed,” 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 fifth year the event is being held in Lafayette, the city said to have more restaurants per capita than any other American city. Many of the restaurants that have helped earn that distinction will be serving samples to spectators as a part of the Taste of Eat Lafayette, which will take place in conjunction with the Louisiana Seafood 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, hosted by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and held in New Orleans during the Louisiana Restaurant Association Showcase on Saturday, August 6.
“Locals and visitors alike come to the Bayou State to indulge in beautiful and creative cuisine by our talented chefs which features Louisiana crab, shrimp, oysters, fin fish, alligator and crawfish at the center of the plate,” said Stan Harris, President and CEO, Louisiana Restaurant Association. “That’s why Louisiana restaurants and Louisiana seafood makes a perfect pair.”
Previous winners of the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off include:
2008: Brian Landry
2009 Tory McPhail
2010: Chris Lusk
2011: Cory Bahr
2012: Keith and Nealy Frentz
2013: Cody and Samantha Carroll
2014: Aaron Burgau
2015: Michael Brewer
2016: Blake Phillips
2017: Bonnie Breaux
2018: Ryan Trahan
2019: Nathan Richard
2020: Robert Vasquez
2021: Tory McPhail (King of Kings Edition)
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. Chefs interested in vying for the title 2022 King or Queen of Louisiana Seafood can fill out the online entry form. Information on previous cook-offs and updates on the event are at LouisianaSeafood.com.
“In Louisiana, good food is just part of what connects us to our diverse heritage and seafood is a big part of that. From recipes passed down through generations to the culinary creations of our state’s chefs, seafood has created a culinary identity for Louisiana unlike any other state,” Lt. Governor Nungesser said. “This is a chance for us to celebrate the great contribution chefs and our hard working seafood industry make to the state that truly Feed Your Soul.”
Follow @LaSeafoodBoard on Instagram and Twitter and keep up will all Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off (LASCO) events via the official hashtag, #LASCO22.
Metairie, LA—The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) Board of Directors, through its Scholarship Fund, awarded $46,000 in scholarships to 18 students. The LRAEF Scholars were honored at “Serving the Future—Celebrating Careers in Hospitality,” March 29, 2022 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 over $600,000 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 recipient of the Jim Funk Scholarship is Carmella Bosco, a third-year scholar and is a junior attending Nicholls State University John Folse Culinary Institute. Bosco attended Lakeshore High School and received her ProStart Certificate of Achievement in 2020, and has worked at Spahr’s Seafood Restaurant and her father’s restaurant – Bosco’s Italian Café in Mandeville.
The Louisiana Seafood Scholarship was established through a generous gift from the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board and is awarded to a qualified applicant who expresses an interest in cultivating, protecting and promoting Louisiana Seafood. This year’s Louisiana Seafood Scholar is Pierce Ziebarth, who is attending the Louisiana Culinary Institute. Ziebarth has a passion for the culinary arts and Louisiana seafood instilled in him by his grandmother, whom he credits with teaching him to cook at the early age of eight years old.
The LRAEF Scholars are individuals who intend to pursue a career in the restaurant, foodservice, tourism, or hospitality industry. ProStart students, who have or will receive the National ProStart Certificate of Achievement, were given priority. This year’s recipients are:
Morgan Bouquet, graduate of Lakeshore High School (ProStart); attending Nicholls State University – John Folse Culinary Institute; Third-year recipient
Rachel Cannata, attended Benjamin Franklin High School; attending Cornell University
Christina Chauffe, attended Lafayette High School; attending University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Julian Faust-McKinney, attended Caddo Parish Magnet High School (ProStart); attending Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts
Zoe Foster, attended Franklin Parish High School; attending Nicholls State University; Second-year recipient
Sarah Gassenberger, attended Academy of Our Lady (ProStart); University of Holy Cross; Second-year recipient
Isabelle Giangrosso, attended Ursuline Academy; attending University of Holy Cross
Rebecca Gilson, attended Fontainebleau High School (ProStart); attending Nicholls State University John Folse Culinary Institute; Second-year recipient
Kayla Gremillion, attended Northshore High School (ProStart); attending Nicholls State University John Folse Culinary Institute
Jeremy McElveen, attending University of Holy Cross; Second-year recipient
Alayna Moore, attended Buckeye High School; attending University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Emery Prokasy, attended Mandeville High School; attending University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Nishanth Sathyanarayan, attending Delgado Community College
Emma Sedgebeer, attended Fontainebleau High School (ProStart); Nicholls State University John Folse Culinary Institute; Second-year recipient
Deante Skidmore, attended East St. John High School (ProStart); attending Louisiana Culinary Institute
“Recognizing these students for their hard work and dedication is the most rewarding part of my role as Chair of the LRA Education Foundation,” said Craig Dennison, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots and 2022 LRAEF Chair. “These scholarships will help these and future recipients become leaders and innovators in the restaurant and hospitality industry.”
The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF), in conjunction with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), hosted the Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers Louisiana ProStart® Invitational, March 29-30 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. Blue Runner Foods sponsored the Culinary Competition which showcased the culinary and creative abilities of ProStart students from 13 high schools, while BRG Hospitality sponsored the Management Competition, which featured the conceptual restaurant development and marketing ingenuity of ProStart students from eight high schools.
During the Blue Runner Foods Culinary Competition, teams demonstrated their teamwork, communication, sanitation, knife skills and culinary techniques throughout the 60 minutes timeframe to prepare a three-course, gourmet meal.
The winner of the Blue Runner Foods Culinary Competition:
Chalmette High School
Instructor: Elena Hodges
Students: Aiden Duhe, Kyle Thomas, Rosebud Knight, Tony Nguyen and Brandon Jackson
Chef Mentors: Anastasia Joyner and Ruth Varisco
Winning menu: Appetizer- Butter Seared Lobster Tail; Entrée- Blackberry Hoisin Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Hannah White Sweet Potato Mash and Garlicky Sugar Snap Peas; and Dessert- Apple Crisp Dome.
Second Place – Culinary Competition:
Pearl River High School
Instructor: Allison Armand
Students: Rebecca Adams, Isabella Smith, Addison Colgin, Alana Gandy and Skye Jones
Third Place – Culinary Competition:
Sulphur High School
Instructor: Jacob Gillett
Students: Carson Brakeen, Avery Gorum, Nina Johns, Marrie Racca and Kip White
Teams participating in the BRG Hospitality Management Competition demonstrated their knowledge of the restaurant and foodservice industry by developing a restaurant concept, including the menu, design, budget and marketing strategies, which they presented to a panel of judges as an entrepreneur would pitch to a group of investors.
The winner of the BRG Hospitality Management Competition:
Chalmette High School
Instructor: Elena Hodges
Students: An Tra, Amya Farrell, Razan Alkurd, Emma Oliver and Aiden Duhe
Winning restaurant concept: Al-Medina, a Mediterranean/New Orleans fusion restaurant
Second Place – Management Competition:
Hammond High Magnet School
Instructor: Angelina Drago
Students: Inashia Cousain, Dallas Griffitt and Kaylee Stewart
Third Place – Management Competition:
Plaquemine High School
Instructor: Stephanie White
Students: Ashton Becker, Makenzie Anderson and McKenzie Justillian
Chalmette High School will represent Louisiana at the National ProStart Invitational in Washington, D.C. May 6-8, 2022 where they will compete for more than $1 million in additional scholarship dollars.
The 2022 LRAEF ProStart Student Invitational Sponsors are: Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Blue Runner Foods, BRG Hospitality, B&G Food Enterprises, Republic National Distributing Company, Centerplate, QED Hospitality, NATCO, Coca-Cola Bottling Company-United, Auto-Chlor System, PJ’s Coffee, Ecolab, Freeman Decorating, Community Coffee, and the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.
The 2021 LRAEF Annual Partners are: Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Auto-Chlor System, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Acme Oyster House, Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Louisiana Restaurant Association, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation; Sysco, ForeKids Foundation, Coca-Cola Bottling Company-United; Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots; Katie’s Restaurant, Crescent Crown, Authentic Title, Tammy Smitherman, Octavio Mantilla; and the LRA Staff. In addition, the LRAEF would also like to thank the nine chapters of the LRA for their support throughout the year.
ProStart is a nationwide, two-year culinary arts and restaurant management program 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 are required to complete a 400-hour work internship, thus providing hands-on training. ProStart is important because it provides a pathway to a student’s future success, providing a foundation for a variety of career choices—from management and culinary operations, to supply chain positions and marketing support. The possibilities are endless in an industry with many facets. Many LRA members serve as mentors to ProStart students and also hire them.
In their ongoing efforts to promote equal access to information, on March 18th the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division released new guidance on website accessibility and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As more and more services move online, people are increasingly reliant on websites. These basic guidelines help to ensure that websites are accessible to people with disabilities as required by the law.
The Americans with Disabilities Act Today
The ADA, enacted by Congress in 1990, was intended to keep pace with advances in technology. Today this means that the ADA applies to all state and local government websites, as well as all businesses open to the public. The DOJ reaffirmed in their guidance that website accessibility remains a priority.
Remove Unnecessary Barriers
The DOJ stresses that websites not designed with assistive technology in mind create unnecessary barriers for people with disabilities. Assistive technologies include screen readers for the blind, captioning for the deaf or hard of hearing, and voice recognition for people whose disabilities make using a mouse and keyboard difficult. Equal access means designing websites with people with disabilities in mind.
Read the new guidance here.
The Essential Workers for Economic Advancement program broadens job opportunities in the restaurant industry
Washington, D.C. – If you ask any restaurant owner or operator, they will tell you that their employees are their greatest asset. In an industry built on hospitality, from the front of the house to the back of the house, a restaurant can only run well when it’s fully staffed. However, current recruitment challenges in the industry are forcing restaurants to limit their service and close additional days. The Essential Workers for Economic Advancement (EWEA) program would help address some of these challenges.
The program, created by the Essential Workers for Economic Advancement Act introduced in the House last night, creates a pathway for workers to come to the U.S. on market-driven, non-immigrant, three-year visas. The program is intended for small businesses in industries with comparatively low sales per employee and would be available for non-agricultural jobs with lower education thresholds that have been unfilled for extended periods of time.
“There is no silver bullet to solving the industry’s recruitment challenge, but this program creates one opportunity to address the issue,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “The overlapping blows of the pandemic and now an inflationary economy are limiting industry operations. For restaurants to fully recover and grow, we have to be open at full capacity — and to do that we have to continue to grow our workforce. This program is a win-win for employers in desperate need of employees and individuals seeking training and opportunity.”
The EWEA will initially be available for up to 65,000 workers, but after the first year, the total number of workers is determined by market-based need. The number of workers in the program cannot exceed 85,000.
“The Essential Workers for Economic Advancement Act addresses a pressing problem for a host of industries that is stalling economic growth – a chronic worker shortage. Restaurants are vital drivers in every community, so I appreciate the on-going input and support of the National Restaurant Association in bringing this legislation to introduction,” said Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA).
“We appreciate Rep. Smucker’s willingness to work with us for the last few months to ensure this bill will meet some of the unique needs of the restaurant industry, and his leadership getting it introduced in the House. We look forward to working with Congress to pass this essential tool to help the industry address its workforce shortage,” said Kennedy.
The foodservice industry is the nation’s second-largest private sector employer, with a workforce of more than 14 million people in nearly one million eating and drinking establishments. According to the National Restaurant Association 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report, roughly half of operators expect recruiting and retention of employees will be their top challenge in 2022. This challenge is not new for the industry. Prior to the pandemic in 2019, more than a third of operators rated recruitment and retention of employees as their top challenge.
Learn more about the Essential Workers for Economic Advancement (EWEA) program here.