The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) has announced that the 2024 Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award will be presented to chef and restaurateur Donald Link. The gala celebration will take place on January 25 at 7 p.m. at The Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans, with a VIP reception beginning at 6 p.m.
"Chef Link will be honored for his long-standing stewardship of our culinary culture and heritage, his celebration and cultivation of the remarkable bounty of growers, farmers, and fishermen in Southern Louisiana, and his guiding inspiration of future generations of chefs," said Aimee Brown, NOWFE Executive Director.
Inspired by the Cajun and Southern cooking of his grandparents, Louisiana native Chef Donald Link began his professional cooking career at 15 years old. Chef Link has peppered the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans with a collection of award-winning restaurants for the past two decades, including Herbsaint, Cochon, Cochon Butcher, Calcasieu, Pêche Seafood Grill, La Boulangerie, Gianna, and Chemin in the Four Seasons Hotel. Herbsaint earned Chef Link a James Beard award in 2007 for Best Chef South. The same year, Cochon was nominated for Best New Restaurant. The James Beard Foundation has also nominated Chef Link for the prestigious award of Outstanding Chef for multiple years. Pêche Seafood Grill was awarded Best New Restaurant at the 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards. Gianna was honored to be named a James Beard Award Nominee for Best New Restaurant 2019. Gourmet Magazine listed Herbsaint as one of the top 50 restaurants in America and was inducted into the Nation’s Restaurant News Hall of Fame. Cochon was listed in The New York Times as “one of the top 3 restaurants that count” and named one of the 20 most important restaurants in America by Bon Appétit. For his commitment to the industry, the Louisiana Restaurant Association honored Link by naming him Restaurateur of the Year in 2012.
The James Beard Foundation also honored Link’s first cookbook – Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana (Clarkson Potter) with its top award for Best American Cookbook. Released in 2009, Real Cajun is a collection of family recipes that Link has honed and perfected while honoring the authenticity of the Cajun people. In February 2014, Link celebrated the release of his second cookbook Down South: Bourbon, Pork, Gulf Shrimp & Second Helpings of Everything (Clarkson-Potter), which looks beyond New Orleans and Louisiana at dishes in nearby states.
The Ella Brennan Award recognizes one individual each year that has made a lifetime commitment to the hospitality industry through extraordinary leadership, personal and professional accomplishments, and philanthropic contributions to the community. The Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award is named for restaurateur legend Ella Brennan. Her deep passion and commitment have made a significant and longstanding impact on the New Orleans hospitality industry. The award's past recipients include Chef Paul Prudhomme, philanthropist Bill Goldring, Chef Leah Chase, restaurateurs Drago and Klara Cvitanovich, Audubon leader Ron Forman, local restaurateur Ralph Brennan, celebrity chef and philanthropist Emeril Lagasse, tourism industry icon Mark Romig, Chef Frank Brigtsen, and Chef Susan Spicer. In 2021, NOWFE presented the Ella Brennan “Stand Up for Your Hometown Award” to recipients who exhibited unwavering love and extended an extraordinary response to support the New Orleans community during the pandemic. Those recipients included Al Copeland, Jr., Phil Moseley and Ronnie Evans, Robert Peyton and Troy Gilbert, Zeid and Marv Ammari, Erich and Jennifer Weishaupt, Devin De Wulf, Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski, Jennifer Kelley Killian, Lauren Darnell, Melvin Rodrigue, Zach Strief, Charles Armstrong, and Isaac and Amanda Toups.
What happened: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued a proposed rule on “Unfair or Deceptive Fees” that would force U.S. businesses to eliminate the use of “hidden” and “misleading” fees. The proposed rule would instead require businesses to post total prices for a service or good, which reflects all costs except shipping and government charges.
Why it matters: If this proposed rule is adopted as written, restaurant operators will have to rewrite their compensation models, increase their menu prices, and overhaul established business practices. Projected compliance costs top $3.5B.
What we're saying: The rule is unworkable as written. The Association strongly opposes this proposed rule and will submit comments.
Learn more: Register for the Association's webinar on the FTC's proposal, happening Thurs., Dec. 7, at 1 p.m. Central.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently announced it would delay the adoption and enforcement of its new joint employer definition until Feb. 26, 2024.
Dive deeper: NLRB cited pending legal challenges, including the Restaurant Law Center’s lawsuit, as the cause of this delay.
Learn more: Check out the Association’s new joint employer policy brief.
2024 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast from the National Restaurant Association predicts top menu trends for next year
Swipe. Like. Crave. More and more, the line between restaurant menus and home cooking is blurring, thanks to social media like TikTok where restaurant dishes become viral sensations and in the right culinary hands popular social “food fads” are translating to menus and limited time offers. That’s according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2024 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast and insights pulled from a survey of 1,500 culinary professionals nationwide—its largest to-date—who identified incorporating social media as one of the top ten hottest trends in 2024.
The survey uncovered several broader menu trends to watch for next year as well as specific dishes, ingredients, flavors, and condiments that are set to become fast favorites among consumers. Topping the list of trends, world soups and stews check all the boxes for consumers and restaurant operators. They’re a safe way for customers to experience new ingredients, an economical way to diversify a menu, and they can be an easy way to integrate healthier options.
Top Trends for 2024
“This year’s trends are dominated by consumer craving for comfort and community with a healthy side of curiosity influenced by social media,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of Research for the Association. “Old favorites like BBQ are taking on new flavors and social sharing is influencing the spread of regional fares like Nashville Hot. Even the chicken competition is going global on local menus.”
Across all the food categories, comfort foods ruled the day, with respondents pointing to soups and stews, stuffed vegetables, and melty cheeses as next year’s hottest trends. In a sign of increasingly sophisticated preferences, natural flavors took center stage for alcohol drinks, including botanicals like spices and herbs, along with low-alcohol spirits, while drinks with perceived health and energy benefits led the way for non-alcohol offerings.
The National Restaurant Association surveyed over 1,500 culinary professionals in the United States from October 9, 2023 - October 23, 2023.
Restaurant operators have until Sunday, January 7 to submit comments on the federal ban for commonly used restaurant fees.
The FTC’s proposed rule contains severe flaws – such as recommending a sweeping menu price increase and mandating that credit card fees must be hidden – which are currently being scrutinized.
It is important that you review this information and submit your comments by January 7, 2024.
If you are interested in submitting feedback and need assistance, please contact Brennan Duckett and Aaron Frazier. The National Restaurant Association and Restaurant Law Center will submit joint comments.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) Greater Baton Rouge Chapter gathered November 15 at the elegant Ruffino’s De La Rhonde Hall for an evening of celebration, recognition, and honor. The 2023 Awards Night brought together esteemed members, industry professionals, and friends to acknowledge the exceptional contributions of individuals who exemplify excellence in the culinary and hospitality sectors.
The event commenced with an opening address by Chapter President Stephen Hightower, welcoming attendees to an evening dedicated to acknowledging the passion, dedication, and ingenuity that define the culinary community within the Greater Baton Rouge Chapter.
The night's highlights included the recognition of several outstanding individuals:
The evening concluded with heartfelt gratitude extended to all awardees, presenters, and attendees for their unwavering passion and dedication. Special recognition was given to Megan Klock and the team at Ruffino’s for an outstanding dinner.
Stephen Hightower emphasized the profound influence and friendship between Bruce Attinger and Mickey Freiberg, highlighting their shared dedication to the LRA's mission and their pivotal role in shaping the industry's future.
As the night drew to a close, Hightower encouraged fostering camaraderie and excellence within the industry, inspired by the exemplary dedication of the evening's honorees.
The LRA Greater Baton Rouge Chapter Awards Night 2023 was a testament to the relentless pursuit of excellence and the unbreakable bond within the culinary and hospitality community.
Funding Supports Youth from Diverse Backgrounds to Further Life Skills
Emeril Lagasse Foundation awarded nearly $200,000 in grants to non-profit organizations that support its mission to inspire, mentor, and enable youth to reach their full potential.
“We support programs that provide mentorship to the most vulnerable youth in our communities. We help them to achieve life skills necessary to gain and sustain employment,” said Emeril Lagasse. “Teaching through food is at the core of what we do.”
Four local entities were awarded Community Grants based on the shared mission to support youth through culinary, nutrition, and arts education with a focus on life skills development: Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation ProStart (LRAEF), New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute (NOCHI), Reconcile New Orleans (RNO),Youth Empowerment Project (YEP).
Also, the Aarón Sánchez Impact Fund (ASIF), a program of Emeril Lagasse Foundation, will enable four Latino youth to receive culinary education in New Orleans through the Aarón Sánchez Scholarship. The students will gain hands-on industry experience, as the program works to diversify future kitchen leadership. Established in 2016, the Aaron Sanchez Scholarship is the signature education program of ASIF.
Unlocking tax advantages for businesses in the food and beverage industry involves understanding Form 8846. This form allows eligible employers to claim crucial credits for social security and Medicare taxes paid on employees' tips.
Here's a breakdown of its key aspects and how to leverage it for maximum benefit.
Purpose of Form 8846
Who Should File
How the Credit Is Figured
The form should be filed by partnerships and S corporations, while other taxpayers can report the credit directly on Form 3800 if they solely receive the credit through a partnership or S corporation. Remember, you can go back up to three years to amend returns if necessary.
Click here to download the form.
In 1983, Ema Haq embarked on a remarkable journey from his homeland of Bangladesh to the heart of Cajun Country in Lafayette, Louisiana. The differences between these two worlds couldn't be more striking – from the sounds of accordions and the presence of alligators to the unique culture of Louisiana. For Haq, this move marked the beginning of an incredible life journey that eventually led him to become a restaurateur with a heart of gold.
Haq's family, despite their good fortune, always remained deeply aware of the pervasive poverty surrounding them in Bangladesh. They were committed to using their abundance to provide nourishment and encouragement to those in need. Haq remembers, "If you talked to my father for more than five minutes, the conversation would turn to helping others. If you gave him five dollars or a million dollars, he'd take what he needed, and I guarantee he’d give the rest away to charity."
His mother shared the same spirit of generosity, even dedicating her life to charity work until her passing. The Haq family's philosophy was not just about feeding the hungry but also teaching people how to improve their lives and escape poverty. "Teaching people to fish, not only helping them eat, was my father's lifelong goal," Haq explains. "He constantly encouraged everyone, not just his children, to strive for higher education, especially in helping underprivileged people rise from poverty."
The Haq family's strong emphasis on education led them to send their youngest child to an American high school in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, where they resided. However, when it was time for college, Haq felt drawn to the United States, following his instinct and choosing to pursue his education there. His determination brought him to Lafayette, Louisiana, almost exactly 180 degrees around the globe from Dhaka.
At the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (then USL), Haq found himself dancing between two careers – mechanical engineering and foodservice. He recalls his humble beginnings in the restaurant industry, saying, "I couldn't even cook rice when I came from Bangladesh. To pay for school, my first job was washing dishes in the cafeteria. Then I worked as a busboy, a cook, and a waiter. Later, I managed the restaurant Shangri-La. After graduation, I worked in the oil fields as a full-time mechanical engineer. I opened Bailey's in 1993."
One of the most heartwarming stories about Ema Haq centers around his first Thanksgiving in the United States. Alone and facing a foodless weekend, a friend's mother, Barbara Jardell, extended an invitation for him to join her family's Thanksgiving celebration. This act of kindness left an indelible mark on Haq. He recalls the moment vividly, saying, "I didn't know what the holiday really was, and I was just a college student happy to have a few days off when my friend Jeff Jardell called with the invitation from his mother Barbara. Jeff picked me up, and I still remember walking into that house with everyone seated around the table, smiling at me, waiting for me. So, I ate! It was wonderful."
Barbara Jardell's generosity, which included transportation to her home, serves as the model for Haq's annual Thanksgiving feasts for those without access to a traditional holiday meal. For the past 31 years, Ema Haq, along with Barbara, and a team of dedicated volunteers have been serving 300 guests in the dining room of his restaurant, Bailey's, on real China and silverware, providing a special experience for the most underserved in Lafayette.
In addition to the in-restaurant meals, an additional 1,500 Thanksgiving meals are delivered to elderly and veteran residents of Lafayette who may receive meals on wheels, but often face disruptions during the holiday season. Ema Haq fills this gap, ensuring that no one goes hungry on Thanksgiving.
Now, Haq's circle includes that of his three grown children, all of which return to Lafayette to join friends and staff to support this heartwarming tradition. This labor of love reflects on the spirit of giving back instilled in him by his parents.
Ema Haq's journey from Bangladesh to Lafayette is a testament to the power of education and the incredible impact of generosity and kindness. His annual Thanksgiving feast is a living embodiment of the values instilled in him by his family and the love and support he has found in his community.
As we gather around our own Thanksgiving tables, we can all draw inspiration from Ema Haq's story and the warmth of his Thanksgiving tradition.
Louisiana, renowned for its rich culinary heritage blending diverse ethnicities, stands as a testament to the vibrant tapestry of flavors woven from bountiful seafood, exquisite produce, and exceptional meats like cattle and pork.
On National Philanthropy Day, November 15, the LRA Education Foundation (LRAEF) takes a momentous opportunity to acknowledge and extend gratitude to its annual partners. These partners stand as pillars, enabling the Foundation to serve the restaurant industry and nurture the culinary passion of aspiring talents.
The LRAEF has propelled initiatives that have significantly impacted high school culinary and restaurant management education across 58 schools. The ProStart program, engaging over 2,200 students, is a cornerstone endeavor, fostering skills, and expertise within the industry's future leaders.
"These activities are only possible with the support of the industry we serve," said Jonathan Baynham, LRAEF Executive Director. “This steadfast commitment has fostered the ProStart School Support Fund, empowering instructors to access grants twice a year. These grants cater to essential needs such as small wares, cooking lab ingredients, competition readiness, and invaluable field trips.”
Moreover, the LRAEF Scholars Program, fueled by the generosity of industry contributions, has made higher education in culinary and hospitality accessible to aspiring individuals. Since its inception in 2009, the Foundation has dispersed an awe-inspiring $750,000 to support individuals pursuing or continuing their college education in these fields.
In 2023, the LRAEF is honored to recognize the unwavering support of partners: In 2023, those partners are: Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers; Baton Rouge Epicurean Society, Auto-Chlor System, Acme Oyster House, Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Ecolab, BRG Hospitality, Louisiana Restaurant Association, Tabasco, NRA Educational Foundation, Atmos Energy, Louisiana Seafood, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Coca-Cola Bottling - UNITED, Zea Rotisserie & Bar, PJ's Coffee, Fore! Kids Foundation, B&G Foods (Taco Bell), Sysco, Brechtel Hospitality, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, University of New Orleans - School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism, Natco Food Service, Republic National Distributing Company, QED Hospitality, MMI Culinary, Octavio Mantilla Family Trust and Entergy Louisiana.
The LRA Education Foundation proudly stands as the industry's charity, an institution fervently dedicated to preparing and empowering the next generation of culinary maestros and managerial prodigies. With the support and benevolence of these partners, the Foundation forges ahead, ensuring the legacy of Louisiana's culinary excellence endures through the hands and hearts of future generations.
Interested in the LRAEF Annual Partner program and how you can support the future of our industry, contant Jonathan Baynham at email@example.com.