I’m always amazed when people express surprise that there are cooking demonstrations at the New Orleans Jazz Fest. It’s the Jazz and Heritage Festival, and “heritage” means there is much more than music. The food vendors are carefully vetted to represent the state’s traditions as well as tastes.

And so are the food demonstrations.

The demonstrations are held on two stages, both at the Grandstand. The Food Heritage Stage is indoors. Outdoors is the charming “Cajun Cabin,” and spectators sit under a tented area on bleacher seats. Insider tip: Zatarain’s does a big Louisiana crawfish boil at noon on both Fridays here, if you want to get your crawfish on.

Chefs, cooking teachers and other experienced cooks do the demonstrations. Longtime volunteers dole out samples and enforce an orderly sampling process.

Here are some considerations to help make attendance decisions, but be sure to check the entire list to see what floats your pirogue.

Full disclosure: I’ll be the Food Heritage stage emcee on Friday, May 1. Come by, say hi, and let’s take a selfie.

Friday, April 24

I became a big fan of chef Chris Montero (Café NOMA, Café b and, eventually, Napoleon House) watching him on this stage. Plus I love grilled romaine. At 11:30 a.m., Montero is putting crabmeat salad with it.

Chef Jim Richard, originally from Lafayette, runs Stinky’s Fish Camp in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. At 1:30 p.m. He’ll demonstrate sautéed frog legs, served two ways on the menu at Trenasse, his new rustic seafood restaurant in New Orleans.

Outdoors at the Cajun Cabin: At 1:30 p.m, chef Darrin Nesbit of Bourbon House is preparing a culinary tribute to Hank Williams Sr., as in “Jambalaya, crawfish pie, filé gumbo.”

Saturday, April 25

If you want to devote an entire day to cooking demonstrations instead of music, pick this one. Park yourself at 11:30 a.m. for the always-eubullient radio host Poppy Tooker and her take on Chicken Clemenceau. At 12:30 p.m. the Bayona chef de cuisine, Brett Duffee, demonstrates Boudin-Stuffed Rabbit.

At 1:30 p.m., you’ll already have a seat for the chef who draws standing-room-only crowds every year, Frank Brigtsen of Brigtsen’s Restaurant. This year, he’s making Crawfish Bisque. At 2:30 p.m., chef de cuisine of Herbsaint, Rebecca Wilcomb, concludes the demo day with gnocchi with crawfish and basil.

Outdoors at the Cajun Cabin: At 12 noon, Edgar Caro of Basin Seafood and Spirits and Baru Bistro and Tapas, will grill whole fish with jalapeno chimichurri.

Sunday, April 26

Chef Jason Goodenough of Carrollton Market demonstrates Fried Pig “Tail Tots” at 11:30 a.m. Jazz Fest food director Michelle Nugent supplied the description: “French braised pig tails, deboned, mixed with spices, trinity, sherry, Creole mustard. Shaped into ‘sausages,’ chilled, then cut into ‘tots,’ fried and served with pickled peppers.”

At 2:30 p.m., Christina Quackenbush, whose Filipino pop-up was so popular it became Milkfish on Carrollton Ave., will demonstrate a ceviche, Louisiana drum and shrimp kinilaw.

Outdoors at the Cajun Cabin: At 1:30 p.m., Lora Ann Chaisson of the United Houma Nation will make traditional file gumbo.

Thursday, April 30

Chef Donald Link has been a frequent presenter on the Food Heritage Stage, but this year four other Link Restaurant Group stars (Rebecca Wilcomb of Herbsaint, and Cochon’s Maggie Scales and Matt Woodall) take the stage instead. At 12:30 p.m. today, chef Ryan Prewitt of Peche Seafood Grill, the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant in America in 2014, will sear fresh tuna with chiles and citrus.

Friday, May 1

In 2014, Brazil was the featured country at Jazz Fest, and Café Carmo, the local tropical café, served Brazilian street snacks on the grounds. This year, visitors to the Food Heritage Stage at 2:30 p.m. can again taste the acaraje, the black-eyed pea fritter, made by chef/owners Dana and Christina Honn.

Outdoors at the Cajun Cabin: At 1:30 p.m., the newest Jazz Fest food vendors, the Young brothers of Squeal Barbecue, will demonstrate how they make the smoky bacon collard greens they’re selling in Food Area 1.

Saturday, May 2

I have a big thing for smoked fish and everything made from smoked fish. At 1:30 p.m., chef Anne Churchill of Bhava is making smoked catfish dip. Count me in.

Outdoors at the Cajun Cabin: Want to learn how to grill a pork shoulder? At 12 noon, Cochon chef de cuisine Matt Woodall grills one and serves it with garlic aioli and pickled cabbage.

Sunday, May 3

At 11:30 a.m., prepare to be astonished by Kid Chef Eliana, Eliana de Las Casas of Harvey, as she makes dirty rice. This young lady knows her way around the kitchen and the food stage, as you will see.

Outdoors at the Cajun Cabin: Juan Johnson and his Papa Ninety Catering have a couple of our favorite cold dishes (crawfish remoulade and crabmeat ravigote) at the festival over in their Food Area 1 booth. At 1:30 p.m., he demonstrates crawfish tamales.

ALL DEMOS

Friday, April 24

Food Heritage Stage
11:30 a.m., Chris Montero, Café b and Café NOMA, Grilled romaine and crabmeat salad
12:30 p.m., Sara Toth, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, Crawfish deviled eggs
1:30 p.m., Jim Richard, Trenasse, Sautéed frogs legs
2:30 p.m., Michael Friedman and Greg Augarten, Pizza Delicious, Homemade meatball pizza

Cajun Cabin
12 noon, Dudley Passman, Zatarain’s, Louisiana crawfish boil
1:30 p.m., Darin Nesbit, Bourbon House, Culinary Tribute to Hank Williams
3 p.m., Justin Kennedy, Parkway Bakery, Original fried potato and gravy po-boy

Saturday, April 25

Food Heritage Stage
11:30 a.m., Poppy Tooker, Louisiana Eats! Host, chicken Clemenceau
12:30 p.m., Brett Duffee, Bayona, boudin-stuffed rabbit
1:30 p.m., Frank Brigtsen, Brightsen’s, Crawfish Bisque
2:30 p.m., Rebecca Wilcomb, Herbsaint, gnocchi with crawfish and basil

Cajun Cabin
12 noon, Edgar Caro, Basin, Whole grilled fish with jalapeno chimichurri
1:30 p.m., Greta Bourgeois, SOS, Chargrilled oysters and shrimp
3 p.m., Richard Heyd, St. Bernard Fire Department, Fried turkey

Sunday, April 26

Food Heritage Stage
11:30 a.m., Jason Goodenough, Carrollton Market, Fried Pig “Tail Tots”
12:30 p.m., Ryan Hughes, Purloo, Shrimp and tasso purloo
1:30 p.m., Maggie Scales, Cochon, Seasonal local fruit gallette
2:30 p.m., Christina Quackenbush, Milkfish, Louisiana drum and shrimp kinilaw (ceviche)

Cajun Cabin
12 noon, Steven Marsella, Ralph Brennan Catering, Grilled farm-raised chicken with blackeyed pea salad
1:30 p.m., Lora Ann Chaisson, United Houma Nation, Traditional file gumbo
3 p.m., Mike Gowland, Fireman Mike’s Kitchen, Alligator sauce piquant

Thursday, April 30

Food Heritage Page
11:30 a.m., Gregory Aycock, Gracious Bakery and Café, Pepper jelly
12:30 p.m., Ryan Prewitt, Peche Seafood Grill, Seared tuna with chiles and citrus
1:30 p.m., Jerry Amato, Mother’s Restaurant, Oyster and artichoke soup
2:30 p.m., Michael Goulotta, MoPho, Braised shrimp with fermented black beans and okra
(No Cajun Cabin demonstrations on Thursday)

Friday, May 1
Food Heritage Stage
11:30 a.m., Vincent Sciarrotta, Mr. B’s Bistro, Traditional barbecue shrimp
12:30 p.m., Cheryl Scripter, Bittersweet Confections, Pecan roca
1:30 p.m., Michael Sichel, Galatoire’s, Crawfish au vin
2:30 p.m., Dana and Christina Honn, Café Carmo, Acaraje (blackeyed pea fritters)

Cajun Cabin
12 p.m., Dudley Passman, Zatarain’s, Louisiana Seafood Boil
1:30 p.m., The Young Brothers, Squeal Barbecue, Smoky Bacon Collard Greens
3 p.m. John Silver, United Houma Nation, Sausage and shrimp maque choux

Saturday, May 2

Food Heritage Stage
11:30 a.m., Chip Flanagan, Ralph’s on the Park, Turtle Soup
12:30 p.m., Austin Kirzner, Red Fish Grill, Alligaror boudin
1:30 p.m., Anne Churchill, Bhava, Smoked catfish dip
2:30 p.m., Ausettua Amor Amenkum, Soul Sisters Vegetarian Cuisine, Tofu Fried rice

Cajun Cabin
12 noon: Matthew Woodall, Cochon, Grilled pork shoulder with garlic aioli and pickled cabbage
1:30 p.m., James Eaglin, Opelousas, Jambalaya
3 p.m., Bryan Gowland, Abita Springs, Chicken and Andouille gumbo

Sunday, May 3

Food Heritage Stage
11:30 a.m., Kid Chef Eliana, Dirty rice
12:30 a.m., Tenney Flynn, GW Fins, Sheepshead with greens and oyster dressing
1:30 p.m., Greg Sonnier, Alligator wings
2:30 p.m., Anne Lloyd, Nolavore Catering, Creamed kale and bacon with corn-fried oysters

Cajun Cabin
12 p.m., Eason Barksdale, MONDO, Curried Cauliflower with grilled naan
1:30 p.m., Juan Johnson, Papa Ninety Catering, Crawfish Tamales
3 p.m., Rob Bechtold, NOLA Smokehouse, Brunswick Stew a la Creole

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by Judy Walker

The Times Picayune - NOLA.com