Served January – March
On our current Centennial prix fixe menu, Chef Jimi pays tribute to coffee.
“New Orleans has a longstanding history with coffee, and its importance has made a significant impact on the city and her people. As the closest port to coffee bean growers across Central and South America, New Orleans stands as the leading coffee importer in the country, with some of the largest silos in the world. According to the 1928 book Fabulous New Orleans, the Crescent City is often credited with creating the coffee break, not just as a morning ritual, but enjoyed all day long. New Orleanians drink coffee for breakfast and lunch, as a pot of French-press at dinner, and even as an after-dinner drink in Café Brûlot. This New Orleans concoction embodies the idea of never slowing down—it takes rich, bitter coffee and pairs it with sweet brandy, citrus, and spicy clove. And, of course, chicory coffee is one of the flavor-profiles most closely associated with New Orleans.”—Chef Jimi Setchim
Served April – June
This spring and early summer, Chef Jimi Setchim will pay tribute to a key ingredient in all Louisiana cuisine—spices. The spices used today, from bay leaves and cinnamon to clove and cayenne peppers, are the same spices used 100 years ago, and will continue to enhance foods for the next century of dining.
“New Orleans, more than any other food city, is known for flavorful food—spicy, rich, bold, deep, and memorable are all common words used to describe the food we love, and live by, in New Orleans. As such, we want to highlight some of the spices that make Creole food what it is—hot peppers (tabasco and cayenne) from Central and South America, basil and anise from Europe, bay laurel from the Mediterranean, allspice from the
Caribbean, cinnamon and clove from India and Africa. Spices are the perfect metaphor for Creole cooking, a blending of flavors indigenous to the people that make up New Orleans.
“Think, for example, about a pot of gumbo—French roux, African okra, Indian spices, South American and Mexican peppers, German-style Cajun sausage made with scrap, trim and lagniappe of locally butchered meats. All of this combined with the meats and seafoods that Louisiana’s bounty provides—oysters, crab, shrimp, alligator, chicken, duck, pheasant—and served over Chinese rice and/or with French bread baked by a German baker, Leidenheimer.
“In 1972, local chef Tony Chachere debuted his famed Creole Seasoning. Over the years, other chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, and spice blenders followed suit. Most homes and restaurants across the country now have some sort of Creole or Cajun seasoning in them—Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning, Slap Ya Mama, and Zatarain’s, to name a few. Most incorporate salt, garlic, onions, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper.” —Chef Jimi Setchim
Served July – September
Rice is a staple in both Cajun and Creole cooking, and as such has myriad uses throughout our history. This summer and early fall, Chef Jimi Setchim will showcase this simple, yet perfect, grain in several menu items.
“As a filler in boudin, as an accompaniment with gumbo, as a featured part of étouffée and jambalaya, or as a dessert in calas—rice is engrained in our food culture. The ability to use the lagniappe available from dinner the night before (boudin, calas) speaks to the history of Creole food—use what you have, make it flavorful, and most importantly, enjoy it.
“Rice was grown in the overflowing banks of the Mississippi River, but its techniques and uses were really brought to light by the Africans. Today, it is one of the largest crops farmed in Louisiana. It typically has two growing seasons, with the second being incredibly weather dependent. Many rice farmers use that second season to raise crawfish, as the rice fields hold the perfect combination of water, nutrients, and safety for the crawfish. It’s the perfect example of the symbiotic relationship Louisiana has with its food and land.” —Chef Jimi Setchim
Served October – November
Pecans, Louisiana’s indigenous nut, have been utilized for hundreds of years in dishes ranging from savory to sweet. This fall, Chef Jimi Setchim will showcase the Louisiana pecan with several special menu items.
“Native to the Southeast, specifically Louisiana, pecans are a staple in Creole cuisine. The trees grow wild in yards and are commercially farmed throughout the state. Antoine, an enslaved person in the 1850s, is credited with propagating the pecans we know today. He grafted superior wild pecans to farm-grown seedling stock and won the award for Best Pecan Exhibit at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Expo. As such, he named his trees Centennial Pecans. His success led to more improved varieties and resulted in shaping the commercial pecan market. The Port of New Orleans helped the pecan become a viable export product, earning its reputation as America’s most desired nut, and serving as its international gateway to global destinations.
“Sweet, nutty, crunchy, and with a little fat from the residual oil, pecans are prolific in our Creole dishes. Salted and eaten as snacks, incorporated into salads, used as a coating on fish, and of course, enjoyed in desserts. We crust tart goat cheese with pecans. We pair the essence of toasted pecans with lamb in a rich sauce. We spice pecans to add contrast to sweet and floral ice cream, and we pair them with dark chocolate in a decadent cake.” —Chef Jimi Setchim
Served during December for Reveillon
Louisiana’s hot, humid summers and short, mild winters allow for a variety of sweet citrus to be grown and then harvested in late fall or early winter, just in time for Reveillon. Chef Jimi Setchim will showcase Louisiana citrus with several special menu items on the traditional Reveillon menu.
“Walk through any neighborhood in New Orleans and you’ll pass countless citrus trees. Some sprouted up on their own long ago. Some were planted by home gardeners because of how well they grow in Louisiana. All of them are stunning—the rich green leaves, beautiful white flowers, and then, the contrast of bright yellow and orange as the fruit ripens. The ability for the home cook or gardener to step into their yard, or to the sidewalk, and pluck fresh citrus is a beautiful thing.
“Satsumas and kumquats are often eaten as snacks. Oranges, grapefruits, and tangelos are juiced to drink. Lemons and limes are used to brighten-up beverages or cooked into desserts. Any Louisiana citrus can be made into jam, pepper jelly, or marmalade. In typical New Orleans fashion, citrus can also be made into a nice afternoon cocktail or version of limoncello. The fragrant leaves brighten up pastas, soups, or curries.
“Personally, my wife and I have five citrus trees in our backyard and one in the front, and we are constantly looking for ways to squeeze in more—blood orange, Meyer lemon, navel orange, satsuma, Persian lime, and kumquat. After a rain, the leaves team with fresh citrus scent. When in bloom, the garden is covered in pretty flowers. I love being able to walk outside and pick citrus. We routinely add them to salads, squeeze them into water, finish sauces with them, make some variation on lemon bars, and steep them in booze outside in the sun to make “citrus”-cello. The puppies will occasionally get some in their water bowls, too; they really like satsuma.” —Chef Jimi Setchim