Food, ambiance delight gourmets in the garden

Richard Bogren, Kuehny, Jeff S.

News Release Distributed 05/02/14

BATON ROUGE, La. – With food provided by 18 local chefs and drink from four Louisiana beverage companies, more than 350 individuals enjoyed perfect weather at Gourmet in the Garden in the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden on April 25.

“In addition to the local chefs, we featured local producers, who supplied such things as beef, Blahut Farms strawberries, vegetables, Louisiana rice and Louisiana seafood,” said Jeff Kuehny, director of the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden.

“We have a great partnership with the Louisiana Culinary Institute,” Kuehny said. “Half of the proceeds will support the gardens and the other half will provide scholarships for LCI students and their programs to feed homeless shelters.”

The event was held to benefit the Botanic Gardens and the not-for-profit LCI Foundation.

LCI provided each participating chef with a student chef to help, said Kat Rivera with Gastreaux Group, of Baton Rouge. Student chef Jordale Bergeron worked with chef Sean Rivera to prepare a special version of fish and grits.

Other students participated in a dessert contest, said LCI baking and pastry instructor Chris Nicosia.

Each of the four classes was given a fruit and a nut and instructed to prepare a dessert using them as basic ingredients.

“Overall we are extremely proud of our students and graduates,” said Charlie Ruffolo, director of public affairs for LCI. “They brought their ‘A’ game to this event and made some amazing food while using local Louisiana ingredients. We can’t wait to do it again next year.”

The guests acknowledged their favorite dish by voting for the People’s Choice Award. Jay Ducote from Bite and Booze and LCI student Aimee Tortorich won the award with a unique version of a Louisiana deconstructed bánh mì.

Kirk and Mary Beth Rollins, of Baton Rouge, said they enjoyed the event. Mary Beth works for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry in the agricultural chemistry lab on the LSU Campus, and Kirk is a chemical engineer with Rubicon in Geismer.

Mary Beth Rollins received her master’s degree in horticulture from LSU and learned about Gourmet in the Garden on the AgCenter website.

Angela Van Cleave made the trip from Macomb, Mississippi, to attend the event and said she enjoyed the menu and venue.

Perhaps the people who came farthest were 25 members of a tour group from Arizona.

Local artists Jody James and Kirk Holder provided music for the evening in the new pavilion, which also was the site for the dessert competition.

Rick Bogren

5/3/2014 12:11:40 AM
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