The United Way's fifth annual Got Gumbo? Experience will held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, in the D. H. Holmes Ballroom at the Chateau Sonesta Hotel (800 Iberville St.). Fifteen area chefs and a panel of local celebrity judges will participate in the gumbo and dessert cook-off, all proceeds from which will benefit United Way's many community services. Leidenheimer Bakery and Dixie Produce will provide bread and a green salad to make the competition's gumbo and dessert samples a meal; beverages may be purchased from a cash bar. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Call 827-6894 or visit www.unitedwaynola.org.
Browse the annual holiday open house at Loubat Equipment Company (4141 Bienville St., 482-2554), a professional kitchen supply warehouse, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3, and enter into a drawing for a $500 shopping spree. Everyone is guaranteed a discount at the register. Martin Wine Cellar and Wines Unlimited will pour wine samples, and Bittersweet Confections will provide chocolates. Start your wish list by checking out www.loubat.com.
The Living Room (2800 Magazine St., 324-9550) -- not to be confused with the home decor and gift shop of the same name down the street -- usurped the inviting corner space previously occupied by an auto parts store at the corner of Magazine Street and Washington Avenue. Proprietor Tommy Sims describes the 120-seater restaurant as a steak and lobster house; a glance at the menu also revealed a few regional touches, like crabcakes. Chef Peter Ferroe formerly ran the kitchen at Court of Two Sisters (613 Royal St., 522-7261). The Living Room is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.
Last month Duke LoCicero began serving Friday lunches at Cafe Giovanni (117 Decatur St., 529-2154), his French Quarter house of New World Italian food and live opera performances. He also opened Belli Baci, a red-draped lounge located within the restaurant where guests may order appetizers while reclining on leather sofas, sip $5 10-oz. martinis, and view sporting events on a plasma television. Operations Manager Laura Colville describes Belli Baci as 'bordello-ish, something we don't have in the French Quarter,' and she recommends the Belli Baci Kiss martini made with pomegranate juice. Cafe Giovanni is open for lunch Friday and dinner nightly; Belli Baci is open until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and until at least 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.