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.

 

Saturday
Dec072013

Patois Oyster Stew With Pan Fried Grouper and Fried Parsnips

by Lolis Eric Elie

 

When we met Janette Desautel in Season 1, she was cooking at her eponymous restaurant, Desautel’s. Later, after moving to New York in Season 2, she passes by her former space: It’s become Patois, a new restaurant. In the first episode of Season 4, Janette sits down for meal and the bar and extends her compliments to the chef, Aaron Burgau.

Burgau is a real life New Orleans chef and his restaurant is one of the city’s best -- which means I had to get a recipe from him for “Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans.” He chose Oyster Stew with Pan-Fried Grouper and Fried Parsnips.

I got a chance to talk to Aaron recently about his experiences in front of the camera and behind the stove.

 

In the first season, when we were filming at your restaurant Patois, what was it like to be on set?

It was fun. Originally, they got me to be a site rep and I made friends all those guys. Then I started getting more involved because the props guy at the time didn't really know the kitchen that well. Susan Spicer was the main consulting person. She came up with the menus and I cooked the food. I got to learn a lot about how it works behind the scenes, and how they shoot one scene four different times from four different angles. I learned about the fake ice the use in the drinks on set so it never melts.

 

How did you get into professional cooking?

I went to Johnson & Wales in Vail, Colorado. I already had a college degree from LSU. I got a psychology degree from LSU and said the only thing I really know how to do well is cook -- I started working in restaurants in New Orleans when I was 14. I knew I had to go to culinary school. Every kitchen job I’ve ever had, waiter, bar back, bus boy, I’ve excelled at it. I never left a job on bad terms. I did all rudimentary things in high school and all during college. If I wasn’t reading school books, I was reading cookbooks and recipe books.

 

What was it like to work with Susan Spicer at Bayona?

It was rough. I came in and got the job as the grill person and I was the low man on the totem pole. After about four months of working there I was voted on by my sous chefs to become a tournant, or roundsman, which meant I worked all the stations, helping out anywhere someone was behind or absent. It was a great honor considering it was my first job out of culinary school. Susan was a great teacher. She taught me to have an eye for detail, to think like a cook. Most home cooks, people who learned to cook at home, they read a recipe and they follow a recipe, but a recipe doesn’t have all the answers all the time. Thinking like a cook means thinking about what you are doing, not just going through the motions. It’s OK to deviate from recipes unless you’re baking. You’re not really inventing the wheel.

I got to spend a lot of time Susan -- she even invited me to the Taste of the NFL with her which was a highlight of my young career. Since I was up and coming, I was scared to mess up. Some kids, they fuck up and they don’t care. Around her, I was afraid to fuck up! Ten years after I had worked with her, I was freelancing before I opened Patois and she asked if I could fill in because she was shorthanded. It was fun to see things kind of come full circle.

 

How would you describe your approach to food? How do you combine your New Orleans roots with your other influences at Patois?

I just like good flavors. Patois means being a mishmash of different things; when I read what the name meant, it made sense. I didn't want to pigeonhole myself into being just a French restaurant. I wanted to be able to have a wide range of food on the menu. I like when it’s hard to decide what to order. I could to a whole French menu and a whole Asian menu. But that’s not what I want to do.

 

Why did you open TruBurger? Why a burger shop?

There are so many of them now, but I had a couple of ideas. We opened that whole place for $120,000. It was a challenge to figure out how cheap we could open up for and still do great food. We serve the same beef that Danny Meyer serves at Shake Shack and what Michael White serves at Marea.

 

Tell us about the restaurants youre affiliated with now.

Oak’s really not mine. I helped out with the menu and helped hire some people. I’ve had people come to me to open a barbecue place or with ideas for an Asian place. The latest thing on my mind is opening a seafood restaurant -- anything’s possible.

 

Friday
Dec062013

The Legendary Cheeky Blakk

First, you pat your legs, then you wave your hands.  Hit them elbows two times, now you doing my dance.

"Twerk Something," Cheeky Blakk, 1994

For native New Orleanians, when we hear those words we know exactly what tune to sing along to, and more importantly we know exactly what to do – we twerk something.  In this week's season premiere episode, "A Change is Gonna Come,"  Davis McAlary (Steve Zahn) and his band Educated Fools play to a mostly empty house as he tries to hype what little crowd there is by giving it up for the "legendary Cheeky Blakk" performing on vocals.  Her legendary status as the First Lady of Bounce is lost on the crowd of four or five sitting in the audience but Davis has never uttered a truer word.

Since the Miley Cyrus controversy at the MTV Video Music Awards this year, "twerking" has become part of the national lexicon, with everyone from news anchors to grandmas getting in on the rump shaking action.  Like it or not, it's become part of the vernacular.  But for those of us from New Orleans who've been bouncing to songs like "Twerk Something" since the early 90's we failed to see the controversy when Miley brought it to the national stage, especially because we know who brought it first.  Cheeky Blakk is one of the originators, not to mention dominators of the New Orleans bounce music scene, with other bounce artists like Big Freedia, who was featured in Season 2 of "Treme," often giving credit where credit is due.  As bounce music gains popularity nationwide and twerking contests are held in the streets of New York City, all roads lead back to Cheeky Blakk and her notorious hit "Twerk Something," rightfully making her the original Queen of Bounce.

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Wednesday
Dec042013

Interview with Jon Seda

When you first meet Nelson Hidalgo (Jon Seda) you're not quite sure what side of the line to place him.  He's disarmingly charming with his Texas swagger down pat, and at first glance it might seem like his only allegiances are to himself and his only motivation making money.  But that's just at first glance.  In seasons past he has been either a participant or orchestrator of some questionable self-serving deals, and when we catch up with him at the start of this season he's already set his sights on the next city with big money potential.  But there is still something undeniably likable about Nelson Hidalgo, a genuineness that precludes him from bad guy status.  That's probably due in large part to the warmth and likability that actor Jon Seda brings to his alter ego.  Unlike Nelson, when you first meet Jon there's no mistaking his genuine niceness.

As we were nearing the end of production on our final season I shared a few email exchanges with Jon reflecting a bit on his character and what it was like working in New Orleans the past few years.

 

Here's what he had to say: 

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