"We went to New York City to learn," says Louisiana native Alison Vines-Rushing , who along with her husband, Slade Rushing , will open Longbranch Restaurant (21516 Hwy. 36, Abita Springs, 985-871-8171) next week. "We really just went up there to cook. We didn't think we would be chefs." Vines-Rushing not only became the co-chef with her husband at Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar , but in 2004 was named James Beard's Rising Star Chef of the Year. Despite their success in New York, the couple, which met while working under Gerard Maras , was eager to return to New Orleans. "We were more inspired by what was happening in New Orleans than in New York," she says. In May when they learned that Artesia in Abita Springs was up for sale, they jumped on the opportunity. "It felt like fate," Vines-Rushing says. The menu at Longbranch includes the inventive Southern dishes the couple perfected at Jack's, such as "deconstructed" oysters Rockefeller, tenderloin of veal with creamed collards and crispy skinned redfish in a pig feet sauce.
See Chefs Cook
See the five chefs that Louisiana Cookin' (www.louisianacookin.com) named the "2005 Chefs to Watch" at a dinner benefiting the nonprofit Cafe Reconcile (1631 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 568-1157; www.cafereconcile.com) at 7 p.m. on Aug. 29. Louisiana Cookin' , a bimonthly magazine dedicated to the state's cuisine, collected nominations from area chefs, restaurateurs and culinary instructors. The top contenders were evaluated anonymously by the magazine's editors and publisher. This year's winners are Kristen Essig of Savvy Gourmet (4519 Magazine St., 895-2665; www.savvygourmet.com), Bob Iacavone of Cuvee (322 Magazine St., 587-9001; www.restaurantcuvee.com), Anton Schulte of La Petite Grocery (4238 Magazine St., 891-3377; www.lapetitegrocery.com), Holly Goetting of Charley G's (3809 Ambassador Caffery Parkway, Lafayette, 337-981-0108) and Chuck Subra of La Cote Brasserie (700 Tchoupitoulas St., 613-2350; www.lacotebrasserie.com). At Cafe Reconcile, the chefs will collaborate on a five-course meal that includes Goetting's pear and basil pesto goat cheese salad, Iacavone's two tomato gazpacho with avocado ice cream and Essig's honey and Creole mustard-glazed Cornish hens. The tax-deductible tickets are $100. Call 482-3914 for reservations.
Zea Rotisserie and Grill is a favorite around the New Orleans area, but until now the local chain had no location actually in Orleans Parish. The new restaurant in the Lower Garden District (1525 St. Charles Ave., 520-8100; www.zearestaurants.com) features Zea's unique menu of roasted meats and wood-grilled seafood. To the disappointment of many, the new location will not have Zea's popular beers brewed at the Metairie location. State liquor laws, unfortunately, only allow brewpubs to sell their beer on their own premises.