The Emeril Lagasse Foundation's (www.emeril.org) gala, Carnivale du Vin, was relocated in its inaugural year from New Orleans to Las Vegas as a result of Katrina, but proceeds from the October event are nonetheless staying in the Crescent City. During a recent dinner held at Café Reconcile (1631 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 568-1157; www.cafereconcile.com) to honor 6th District police and firefighters, Lagasse made a surprise contribution of $25,000 to the Central City restaurant from money collected at the fundraiser. Café Reconcile is a nonprofit that functions as a hospitality school and job-training ground for at-risk youth. It also serves breakfast and amazing down-home New Orleans specials at lunch. "I'm the last guy who wants to get kicked, but you can kick us up a notch like that anytime," said Café Reconcile co-founder Craig Cucccia while accepting the check. Lagasse's foundation underwrote the costs of the dinner, which was attended by police, firefighters and their families. Lagasse and chefs from his local restaurants prepared food in the open kitchen, while waiters from Emeril's NOLA (534 St. Louis St., 522-6652) volunteered their night off to serve tables alongside Café Reconcile staff.
Since reopening its new Uptown culinary center in October, the Savvy Gourmet (4519 Magazine St., 895-2665; www.savvygourmet.com) has rapidly taken on new food-related business lines unplanned before the storm. Lunch service and gourmet meals to go were the first additions to the line-up. Most recently, the company boosted its ability to provide catering services through a merger with Palate of New Orlean s, a catering company owned by Glen Vatschell . Well before Katrina, Palate of New Orleans had itself acquired the local Willow Catering. Another project in the works is retail food products, including Savvy-branded sandwiches to distribute through stores and coffee shops. "We're trying to hurricane-proof our business model by being able to do anything," says Savvy co-founder Aaron Wolfson .
Same Steak, Different Kitchen
With repairs underway to the severely flooded subterranean rooms at Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse (716 Iberville St., 522-2467; www.dickiebrennanssteakhouse.com), the French Quarter restaurant has tentatively set its reopening date for April 1. Until then, however, the kitchens at owner Dickie Brennan's other restaurants — Palace Café (605 Canal St., 523-1661; www.palacecafe.com) and Bourbon House (144 Bourbon St., 522-0111; www.bourbonhouse.com) — are preparing some of the most requested dishes from the steakhouse menu, including the prime filet with creamed spinach, Pontalba potatoes and oysters. The two restaurants will also serve the Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse menu for parties of 16 or more when booked in advance. For private party reservations, call 521-8310.