Lyndsey Beaulieu was born and raised in New Orleans but moved away to attend the University of Virginia. After college she lived in Los Angeles where she became part of the HBO family as an assistant at the HBO offices, then as a Writers' Assistant on ‘Big Love.’ She has been with ‘Treme’ since the pilot and currently works as the Writers' Office Coordinator.

 

Thursday
Dec192013

Twelfth Night in New Orleans – A Tradition Explained

By Lyndsey Beaulieu

ln this week’s episode, “Dippermouth Blues,” Annie (Lucia Micarelli) and pianist Tom McDermott play a gig that seems like just another uptown social gathering. There, she happens to run into Davis’ (Steve Zahn) parents, Roger and Ramona McAlary (Marco St. John and Ann McKenzie), and his Aunt Mimi (Elizabeth Ashley). But this particular party has its roots in religious observances; this party is a Twelfth Night party. For the rest of the Christian world, January 6th, or the Feast of the Epiphany, celebrates the visitation of the Three Wise Men to the Christ Child. It marks the end of the Christmas holiday when folks are finally getting back to some sense of normalcy, putting away decorations and throwing out Christmas trees. But for New Orleanians, red and green ornaments are replaced with purple, green, and gold ones (yes, on the same tree that was once for Christmas). That’s because the end of Christmas is actually the beginning of our Mardi Gras -- and Twelfth Night is how we usher it in. 

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Monday
Dec162013

Behind the ‘Bone with Stafford Agee, Off-Camera Trombone Double

by Lyndsey Beaulieu

‘Treme’, like its neighborhood namesake, is a lot about music. I’ve never actually counted but if I had to do the math, I’d guess we average between three and four musical performances an episode. The typical practice for music scenes in film and television is to use a pre-recorded track for the artist to sing or perform to while filming. That is not how we do it on ‘Treme’; the music in the performance scenes is not pre-recorded. When viewers watch those scenes, they are listening to musicians actually play -- even though at times, the actors are only pretending. Spoiler alert: Wendell Pierce, the actor behind our trombone player extraordinaire Antoine Batiste, doesn’t actually play the trombone. No doubt he is a damn fine actor who can pretend like no other, but in reality, the off-camera job belongs to Wendell’s trombone double, Stafford Agee.

New Orleanians know Stafford Agee as the trombonist in the renowned Grammy-winning group Rebirth Brass Band. Rebirth has long been considered an institution in New Orleans music and Stafford has been blowing with them since 1986 and is still going strong. He first started playing music as a kid in 1981 when he began working a drum, but that was only a slight detour until his height caught up with his ambition and he was big enough to reach the positions on a trombone. Music has been a part of Stafford’s life ever since.

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Saturday
Dec142013

Desautel’s Bacon-Wrapped Pork Loin With Smothered Greens, Butternut Squash, and Cane Syrup Jus

by Lolis Eric Elie

In this season’s premiere episode, Nelson Hidalgo (Jon Seda) knew something was wrong at Desautel’s on the Avenue as soon as he tasted the bacon-wrapped pork. In the absence of Chef Janette Desautel (Kim Dickens) and her sous chef Jacques (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine), the execution of the dishes suffers. It’s not an uncommon issue -- I asked some of our chef friends about their experiences in this regard.

 

Adolfo Garcia, chef owner

La Boca, High Hat, Ancora, Gusto 

 

Interesting question. I think there is a fine line when a new chef comes in a kitchen that has a history. Some guys see it as a way to appease the loyal guests and buy some peace while he shows off his stuff. Others won't rock the boat and latch on to that ride for job security. I think the personality and age of the chef have a lot to do with it. Young guys tend to want to show off what they can do; older guys don't wear their ego as closely to the surface and tend to respect the past. 

 

I worked at the Russian Tea Room in my early years. Chicken Kiev, buckwheat blini and borscht was our job security. These dishes are antiquated, heavy, and fairly boring -- and they had to be exactly the same every day. Then we could cook artichoke-crusted striped bass with zucchini salad and Georgian spiced rack of lamb with barley risotto and pomegranate glaze.

 

Soa Davies

Salt Hospitality

 

Most often it’s the execution that is off... like seasoning or plating. Sometimes even the ingredients themselves are not the same quality.

 

Alon Shaya

Domenica Restaurant

 

From my experience, the new chef is keen on removing the former chef’s dishes from the menu so they can create their own identity. Sometimes that can be impossible -- if the dish has become so synonymous with a restaurant that the restaurant may fail or lose business if it were to come off, i.e. soufflé potatoes at Galatoire’s. Some dishes that are very labor intensive and take great attention to detail do suffer when the creator has left. The key is in how well the former chef has taught his employees, and if they share the same passion for that particular dish to WANT to recreate it without flaw. Every situation is different, but with good training and a passionate staff, all food can be done right at all times. It may even get better with a set of fresh eyes.

 

Fortunately for us, we have the Janette Desautel’s own recipe. You can check it below or, better still, get that one and a whole lot of ‘Treme’ recipes in our new cookbook, “Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans.”