by Ian McNulty
It isn't easy to be an ambassador for your field when making a living in that field requires you to be up before dawn and out on the water, fishing with maybe one other guy for most of the day.
But while keeping up the demanding schedule of a working shrimper, Ray Brandhurst (pictured) also managed to help represent the interests of American shrimpers and their uphill battle to position local, wild-caught product as the superior choice to farmed shrimp shipped in by competitors in South America and Asia.
The New Orleans native and his wife Kay are familiar faces at the Crescent City Farmers Market, where they've sold their catch for years, and he is a charter member of the White Boot Brigade, the market's innovative effort to spread the word about wild-caught shrimp. He's hosted many journalists (including this one) on his boat to illustrate the traditions of local shrimping and the odds the Gulf Coast shrimpers face.
Now, Brandhurts's friends are rallying for him in his personal hour of need. He has been diagnosed with stage-three lung cancer and is confronting the prospects of treatment and providing for his family with minimal health insurance.
This Saturday, Aug. 15, the French Quarter restaurant Le Meritage and the local chapter of the Slow Food Movement will host the Louisiana Wild Caught Shrimp Dinner (click link for menu), with proceeds benefiting the Brandhurst family. The chef preparing that dinner, Michael Farrell, will spend Saturday morning at the farmers market conducting a cooking demonstration featuring Louisiana shrimp.
The four-course Le Meritage dinner with wine pairings is $75 per person, beginning at 7 p.m. The Maison Dupuy Hotel, in which the restaurant is located, has a $69 room offer for dinner guests interested in making a night of it.