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Eye on Iris

Local chef Ian Schnoebelen thought his New Orleans days were over in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but during a trip back to his Bywater home to gather some belongings a few weeks after the disaster, he had a swift change of heart. By January 2006, he and his partner Laurie Casebonne reopened the former Mango House restaurant as Iris (8115 Jeannette St., 862-5848), their first business. The intimate Carrollton restaurant quickly earned a local following, and Schnoebelen's cooking has also caught the attention of the editors at Food & Wine magazine. In its July issue, the magazine will honor Schnoebelen as one of its 10 best new chefs in the nation. Before opening Iris, Schnoebelen was sous chef at Lilette (3637 Magazine St., 895-1636; www.liletterestaurant.com), the Uptown restaurant whose chef/owner John Harris was named a top new chef by Food & Wine in 2002. At Iris, Schnoebelen's cuisine blends French and Italian styles with local seafood and an eclectic blend of Asian vegetables. Iris is open for dinner Monday through Saturday.

Madeira in Port

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum will debut a New Orleans-inspired Madeira with a wine dinner to benefit the nonprofit museum on Monday, April 23, at Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave., 899-8221; www.commanderspalace.com). The evening includes a champagne reception and a four-course dinner paired with a wine from Rare Wine Co., a Sonoma-based importer specializing in hard-to-find wines. The event will showcase the company's new New Orleans Special Reserve Madeira, which is based on a nearly extinct variety of grape grown on the island of Madeira. Only 900 bottles of the wine were produced and bottled in 2006. Founded in 2004, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum hosts exhibits and other activities related to the food culture of the South. The museum plans to open a permanent home in the Contemporary Arts Center. The Madeira event begins at Commander's Palace at 6:30 p.m. and the price is $185 per person. Information about reservations and the dinner's complete menu are online at www.southernfood.org.

Pita from Teachers' Pets

Leaving an apple on your teacher's desk is the traditional way to make a good impression, but an updated version with hummus and pita bread will be delivered to one area school on National Teacher Appreciation Day, May 8, courtesy of Byblos Mediterranean Cuisine. The local chain of Middle Eastern restaurants will provide a free catered lunch to the teachers of one local school and is inviting its customers to make nominations at its two full-service restaurants (3218 Magazine St., 894-1233; 1501 Metairie Road., Metairie, 834-9773). The school with the most nominations at the end of April will win a catered lunch for teachers.

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