We knew all this talk about food would make inquisitive minds hungry for an update on our local restaurant industry. As a matter of fact we planned for it.
SB Magazine served up some questions to five prominent culinary professionals: David Alvis, owner Silver Star, Inc.; Agatha Fertitta, owner Fertitta’s Delicatessen; Chef Darrell Johnson, owner Crescent City Bistro; Chef Julie Dupont, Norwegian pastry chef and director of Bossier Parish Community College Culinary Arts; John Psalmonds, owner Rotolo’s Shreveport and Bossier City and Bistro Byronz. The discussion turned out tender, hearty and full of juicy quotes.
You can watch the full interview below.
The following is what appeared in our print product.
SB: Have customer expectations changed over the years?
CDJ: “What you have now with do-it-yourself and Food Network — people’s food education has grown so much … everybody (!) is a cook or a chef.”
SB: As we’ve become more health conscious as a society, what challenges have been presented to you and how have you altered the approach you take to cooking and managing a restaurant? Or has it changed?
AF: “If my daddy were alive today he’d probably kill me for serving turkey on The Muffy™!”
SB: For locals who do own a franchise restaurant — do they sometimes have to combat the idea of supporting local in the sense that they’re sometimes not considered to be under that umbrella, even though they are?
JP: “They are all Baton Rouge and New Orleans based … but I own them. The money that’s spent there from local people … gets spread out among the community when we go out and shop local.”
SB: How does owning a restaurant in Shreveport vs. owning one in Bossier City differ?
DA: “I’ve always fed Shreveport-Bossier City together. It’s just one big community. I’m very lucky we can serve both.
CDJ: “For me, their palate is a bit different. In Bossier, the chicken and waffles have gone over tremendously!”
SB: Are we producing enough culinary professionals to sustain the restaurant industry? Do we have enough local cooks?
CJD: “My answering machine is full of restaurants calling. They say to me, ‘Chef, we need good people.’ And I reply saying, ‘I’m going to make more. I promise. Just give me another semester.’ This is why I’m pushing the standards and adding five associate programs.”
SB: How do you broaden the palate of residents of Shreveport and Bossier City? Does that put a damper on your creativity as a chef?
CJD: “I’m a master pastry chef and I can make the most beautiful, elegant European pastries, but y’all don’t want that. Y’all want apple pies. Y’all want brownies and cookies, and I’m over here like please eat my Napoleon’s Cake!”
CDJ: “A large part of it is us getting out to the tables and being vocal. Offer the chef’s special. People being able to see and try something different — that’s on us as restaurateurs.”
SB: How on trend are we compared to a national food trends?
JP: “Craft beer is a big movement. When I first opened, Shreveport-Bossier City didn’t have enough craft beers to fill 15 taps. Now, I can put on 60.”