by Ian McNulty
Madame Langlois, the housekeeper of New Orleans founder Jean Baptiste LeMoyne de Bienville, was said to have taught early French colonists how to adjust their continental cooking to New World staples, taking the first steps toward local Creole cuisine.
That’s why cookbook author Amy Cyrex-Sins thought the name would be fitting for her own new business, Langlois Culinary Crossroads, which straddles the line between restaurant dining and culinary instruction. Think “cooking class meets chef’s tasting table,” she says.
“We don’t call it a cooking school, because we don’t teach all the ins and outs, we’re not giving degrees,” says Cyrex-Sins. “What we are doing is creating an entertaining dining experience for people who love food and want to recreate the food they have in restaurants themselves.”
Langlois Culinary Crossroads opened this month in the Marigny. Housed in a former corner grocery, the interior now could pass for the set of a contemporary cooking show, with gleaming food prep and cooking demonstration areas, dining bars and large-screen monitors to show the action around the room.
Participants can sign up for specific classes, which are scheduled Fridays through Sunday with brunch, lunch and dinner options. Alternately, groups can book their own private classes.
In either case, participants get to take a hands-on role preparing the multi-course meal planned for the class, or they can simply watch the meal come together before digging in. Cyrex-Sins has recruited a team of chefs, all of whom work at other restaurants or food-related businesses. In teams of two chefs per class, they guide participants from meal prep to dessert.
“Our chefs teach you how to prepare what they’re cooking for you that night so you can make it yourself,” she says.
The menus for scheduled classes cover Creole and Cajun classics (one, for instance, runs through Creole onion soup, blackened catfish, maque choux, crepes with praline sauce and praline cakes). Private events are more customizable, and a vegan chef is available too. Classes are priced between $79 and $120 per person, and, at least for now, meals are BYOB. Langlois Culinary Crossroads also offers culinary-themed walking tours around the French Quarter, Marigny and Treme neighborhoods.
A Louisiana native, Cyrex-Sins is the author of the 2006 release “Ruby Slippers Cookbook: Life, Culture, Family and Food after Katrina” and earlier this year she was a winning contestant on “Beat the Chefs,” a reality show from the Game Show Network’s that pits home cooks against professional chefs.
Langlois Culinary Crossroads
1841 N. Rampart St., 504-934-1010