There are plenty of reasons to buy a pie from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), but chef Dana D'Anzi Tuohy, who runs the school's culinary arts program, offers the simplest one: Everyone loves pie.
Students in the program bake seasonal pies, and this month they're selling peach crumb pies. October brings vinegar-raisin pie, and though Tuohy is not revealing future offerings, she promises they'll be "funky and fun."
Individual pies cost $25, and pie lovers can join the Pie of the Month Club. A subscription costs $200 and gets members 11 pies through May 2014, including a Thanksgiving pie. Subscriptions are available through Sept. 22 and proceeds support the culinary arts program. Pies can be ordered online at www.squareup.com/market/the-nocca-institute or by phone at (504) 840-2900.
Pies must be picked up at NOCCA between 9 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on the designated Thursday or Friday at the end of each month. Pie flavors are announced at the beginning of the month, and orders for individual pies are taken through Sunday prior to the pickup day.
Learning to keep up with demand is part of the curriculum. "It's an important skill, adapting the business and deciding how to schedule and prep," Tuohy says. "They are such great producers, they have no qualms about it."
Students use local ingredients when possible, and by next spring, produce will come from the Press Street garden that students will cultivate themselves.
Throughout the year, students get professional exposure. Students cook for the Emeril Lagasse Foundation's annual fundraiser Carnivale du Vin. Lagasse and chefs from his restaurants mentor students during a recipe contest requiring the use of Louisiana seafood. The winning dish is served at Lagasse's restaurants.
Tuohy worked at Lagasse's Las Vegas restaurants before returning to New Orleans two years ago to head the culinary arts section at NOCCA. — JEANIE RIESS