Culinary arts, culinary history

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Leah Chase (center) with chefs Chris Montero, Haley Bittermann, Chip Flanagan and Steven Marsella.
  • Courtesy of NOMA
  • Leah Chase (center) with chefs Chris Montero, Haley Bittermann, Chip Flanagan and Steven Marsella.

There’s a lot of Creole cooking on display at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), at least as long as the exhibit “Leah Chase: Paintings by Gustave Blache III,” is on show. But there’s also Café NOMA, the eatery that restaurateur Ralph Brennan operates in the museum, and beginning this week the café will feature a series of cooking classes each Friday. In fact, Leah Chase herself will be part of the series for a few sessions in July and August.

The summer cooking series is called “Art You Can Eat,” and it will be held at 7 p.m. on Fridays from June 8 through Aug. 24. It’s free, once you’ve paid your admission to NOMA. The series is billed as interactive demonstrations of the tips and tricks behind classic and contemporary cooking, cocktails and food presentation, and it promises to show us how to easily replicate professional techniques.

They feature chefs from the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group properties, including Café B, Café NOMA, Ralph’s on the Park and the Red Fish Grill. Topics range from pickling (June 8) and crafting dessert cocktails (June 15) to “do-it-yourself molecular gastronomy” (July 20) and food photography (June 29). Leah Chase will be part of the events on July 13 (making Creole cream cheese, mozzarella and ricotta), Aug. 3 (making roux and gumbo), Aug. 10 (modern updates to New Orleans classics) and Aug. 24 (on lighter touches for Creole cooking).

For the complete schedule and more details, click here.


Talking Art, Food, Life

In a separate event, this Sunday, June 10, NOMA hosts a talk with Leah Chase and Jessica Harris, a prominent culinary historian, cookbook author and long-time friend of chef Chase. Billed as a “public conversation,” the two will discuss the chef’s art collection, food and her approach to life. The event begins at 3 p.m.

Tracing African American Food Culture

Harris will give a second talk later next week, June 14, at the Cabildo (701 Chartres St., 568-6968), one of the historic buildings run by the Louisiana State Museum on Jackson Square. This talk is based on work from her latest book, “High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America,” and will trace African influences on American cooking beginning with the 17th century slave trade to the present.

A professor at Queens College at the City University of New York, Harris also consults at Dillard University in New Orleans, where she founded the Institute for the Study of Culinary Cultures. This June 14 event is free, begins at 6 p.m. and is part of the state museum's "Second Thursdays" evening lecture series, sponsored by the Friends of the Cabildo.

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