TopChef: NOLA episode 1 – Swamp Party

I  watched all the Padma’s Picks episodes on demand and I’ve eaten at most of the New Orleans restaurants of the chefs involved, but really Bravo? You couldn’t find a single female chef in NOLA? But I’m glad to NOLA chefs ended up in the mix.

The real title of this episode is Soiree in the Swamp, but Swamp Party is better and who decided that filming in the swamps of south Louisiana was a good idea in late May? Clearly folks involved with production were not familiar with our weather. They should have been filming now since the weather is lovely now. And just so we’re clear, the water in the swamp is a bayou usually; swamp encompasses the land too…I think some of these chefs failed geography.

So I supported the use of the three unusual proteins, but really alligator is so not New Orleans. You never saw it on the menus in the city prior to the 1980s. Thanks to Paul Prudhomme and his introduction of Cajun food to the world.

But here’s the thing for the non New Orleanians who might be reading this Cajun food is from Southwest Louisiana. Creole food is from New Orleans. One is more country and one more city.  The bold, aggressive flavors are Cajun; Creole is more subtle and sophisticated.

With that lesson out of the way, some generalized thoughts:

  • When Michael starts going into auto-tour guide mode, that’s me. Or I should say many of us who frequently host guests to our fair city.
  • I immediately had to tweet regarding two statements made during the show; 1. When the pretty boy said Emeril put NOLA food on the map…umm, yeah, Paul Prudhomme and in the 19th century there was Madame Begue who was a celebrity chef even then. 2. The girl at the swamp party who tells Tom that she would love her Mom’s okra recipe. That is totally a south Louisiana thing to say.
  • I’ve read online that folks think you have to flash to catch beads…Wrong! At most parades all you have to catch beads is put your hands up. And the NOLA twitter community made fun of the beads used for voting at the party because they were chintzy beads (in the parlance of my family).
  • oh and by the way when I tweeted about the girl & Tom, he responded…ok all he said was “no doubt” but still…

For more information on the background of the episode, here’s an article from the local newspaper…oh wait, they don’t really publish in paper anymore so I guess it’s just a local news source.

Finally enjoy a little vintage Fats Domino…just because.

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