Louisiana Eats!

Saturdays at 1 p.m.
  • Hosted by Poppy Tooker

Louisiana Eats! is a radio show for people who cook and people who love to eat well—all with a Louisiana point of view and Poppy’s distinctive Louisiana voice.

In each program listeners join Poppy as she meets people who produce, cook, and eat the foods we enjoy and treasure—exploring kitchens and stores, farms and waterways where favorite foods are produced and prepared. And because Louisianans love all kinds of food, Poppy won’t limit herself to shrimp creole and hot sauce!

It's a common fact of life that there is more to people and things than meets the eye.

For example, many people know New Orleans artist Thomas Mann for his jewelry and metal sculptures, but may have been unfamiliar with his interest with food. An accomplished cook and self-styled ovo-lacto-piscean vegetarian, Thomas will get to show off his chops on Food Network's new competitive cooking show "All-Star Academy," which premieres Sunday, March 1 at 8 p.m. He gives us the scoop on his network debut and what audiences can expect to tune in to.

Louisiana Eats! roving reporter Jyl Benson is more than just a longtime contributor to our show. She's also a prolific food writer and, most recently, author of a new cookbook: "Fun, Funky and Fabulous: New Orleans' Casual Restaurant Recipes." Along with collaborator Sam Hanna, Jyl discusses how the book came together, both offering an in depth look at their approach to food photography.

Also, Chris Boucher, industrial hemp advocate, explains the benefits of Cannabis sativa, the plant often demonized as "The Devil's Weed." While hemp and marijuana are both derivatives of Cannabis sativa, hemp contains no THC, the active chemical that gets marijuana users high. Chris explains why attitudes toward hemp turned sour by the 1930s and why he believes, with new research and growing interest in the product, hemp cultivation will soon become a giant industry in the U.S.

We're taking a long look on both sides of the fence on this week's Louisiana Eats!

Vietnamese New Year was officially Thursday, but the festivities in New Orleans East have just started. The largest of these events is a three-day Tet festival hosted by Mary Queen of Vietnam Church (14001 Dwyer Blvd.) beginning Friday, February 20 at 6:30 p.m.

Drawing in thousands of locals and visitors from across the region, the neighborhood festival features live music, dancing, fireworks and, of course, exceptional Vietnamese cuisine. Food writer Ian McNulty gives Poppy the scoop on what dishes to sample this weekend and why you should arrive with an empty stomach.

Mardi Gras may be over, but festivities for the Lunar New Year have just begun! On this week's Louisiana Eats!, we celebrate the Year of the Goat the way they do in China, with a baijiu toast, courtesy of baijiu enthusiast Derek Sandhaus. Derek explains to us the story behind the ancient Chinese liquor and its recent emergence in the West.

Then we'll check in with our roving reporter Ian McNulty about this weekend's Tet Festival at Mary Queen of Vietnam in New Orleans East. Gabriella Gershonson of Every Day With Rachel Ray shows us how to host a dim sum brunch. Finally, John Georges, Master Distiller of Angostura Rum, gives us a look at how they ferment, distil and age their famous liquor.

It's Carnival time in Louisiana! We'll take you into the secret realm of some of New Orleans' oldest Mardi Gras krewes by visiting Antoine's and Tujague's Restaurants. Antoine's fifth-generation proprietor Rick Blount gives us a tour of the Rex Room, the Proteus Room, the Twelfth Night Room, and the Hermes Bar. Then, Mark Latter of Tujague's shows us the infamous Krewe d'Etat Room, a place of rollicking misbehavior.

In sharp contrast to elaborate parades and krewes of New Orleans, Mardi Gras in Cajun Country is altogether different. From Lafayette, Toby Rodriguez and Lucius Fontenot talk to us about the prairie Mardi Gras traditions that make Acadiana unique.

Also, Robin Young, host of NPR's Here & Now, turns the tables on Poppy with an interview about Mardi Gras food. There's more to it than just King Cake!

Allons au Mardi Gras!

Water conservation and ecology are at the utmost concern to beverage makers like Great Raft Brewery and Cakebread Cellars. Andrew Nations has gone to great lengths to figure out ways to change the taste profile of Shreveport's water, and Bruce Cakebread has helped organize a group of winemakers to ensure that their family businesses will survive the ongoing drought in California. We'll join each of them on site as they focus their attention towards these environmental issues.

And once you hear Molly Kimball's advice about the benefits of a daily glass of wine, you'll be glad these beverage makers are so disciplined. New research suggests that a little alcohol is great for a healthy heart: a perfect pairing, if you will. Should that not be enough for a perfect pairing, then turn to Scott Gold for his take on what makes a bowl of chili great, a great companion on a cold winter night. 

Plus food writer Jason Wilson joins the show and Poppy shares her recipe for Coq Au Vin.

For the past twenty years Dana Cowin has been Food & Wine's editor in chief, but has keep a secret from her readers. Despite being surrounded by food nearly every single day, she never learned how to cook. But with the help of her friends, many of them famous celebrity chefs, Dana has mastered her mistakes in the kitchen and learned some invaluable life skills along the way. 

We're also joined by Tony Abu-Ganim, one of the world's leading mixologists. He's seen the profession go from being a secondary job to a respected career during his 30 years behind the bar and joins us to talk about the hardships he's encountered along that journey.

And for a set of bakers with roughly five years of experience on their hands, the crew at Bellegarde Bakery is making quite a name for themselves. We'll join Graison Gill and Brett Guadagnino at their Broadmoor bakery for an early morning baking session.  

Plus Ian McNulty and Chris Jay both join us for reports from the road

There were so many different food stories that emerged this past year that we had a hard time narrowing them down to a single hour of programming. Whether it was the Gulotta brothers opening up their own restaurant in Mid-City or a national grocery store returning to the city, there seemed to be new food stories popping up everywhere. It wasn't just local either: one of our favorite chefs traveled to Russia and The New York Times stuck its foot in its mouth

Sadly, we also lost some very good friends of ours. Michael Mizell-Nelson and Rudy Lombard both championed Louisiana's foodways and worked hard to preserve many of our customs and traditions. We'll revisit them one as time before we turn the page to another calendar year.

With so much to do during the holidays and so little time to do it, they often don't feel like "the most wonderful time of the year." But if you pocket a word of wisdom from our guests, perhaps you'll be able to go about the next couple weeks breathing easier. 

Evan McCommon has been converting his family's timber ranch into a biodiverse farm. The changes have been slow, but his resolve steady as the 1,100 acres change from a dense forest to an open savannah. 

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