Big Easy pickings
Chef Michael Sichel of the 107 year old James Beard award winning restaurant, Galatoire’s, is dishing up a taste of New Orleans for US Olympians, their families and visitors to the London 2012 Olympic Games. Here Chef Sichel reveals why nothing – not even a hurricane or BP oil spill – will stop the music in New Orleans
Are you a local guy?
I was born in New York but have lived in New Orleans for approximately 10 years, and definitely think of myself as a local. Anyone that had to endure Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and then stayed to rebuild the city, should be considered a local.
What’s it like to live in New Orleans?
Exciting: there is so much going on. New Orleans is a celebration of life, and I am proud to have contributed towards the city’s success.
What is your favourite thing about New Orleans?
The festivals from the Oyster Festival to the Jazz & Heritage Festival and French Quarter Festival. You can find a festival in New Orleans, on almost any weekend of the year.
Why should we visit New Orleans?
Because you can be guaranteed a warm welcome: everyone works hard to please you.
How long do we, ideally need?
I recommend visiting for five days, including a weekend.
How can you tell locals from our readers?
New Orleanians move to the music, any music. We celebrate life and do not need an excuse to have a good time. By contrast, visitors can initially be more conservative.
Sorry, but I’m biased toward Galatoire’s. Our restaurant is where tradition meets celebration: it’s a grand experience. Another great New Orleans experience is taking the ferry across the Mississippi River to Algiers and back. It has the best views of the city and it is free. And then there’s City Park which has been enjoying a revival since Hurricane Katrina.
Anything you try at JazzFest will wow. I’m serious: we take our food at festivals very serious.
Try the antique stores, art galleries, craft shops and cute boutiques along Magazine Street.
Where should we stay?
I like the Central Business District (CBD). It’s close to French quarter, but not actually in it. You’ll find a number of special hotels there, including the rockstar worthy Loft523 and the quirky International House.
Any insider tips for our readers?
New Orleans is a food town. Make friends with a few locals who can recommend some secret gems.
Anything else you want to add?
The cuisine and culture in New Orleans, is like no other place in the world.
Thanks Michel! For more information on Galatoire’s, the grand dame of New Orleans’old line restaurants, please visit: www.galatoires.com
For more information on New Orleans, check out www.neworleansonine.co.uk