Eight Louisiana and Gulf Coast chefs — including John Folse and Galatoire's executive chef Michael Sichel — are on their way to London. BP will send them to the 2012 Olympic Games host city to fill it with a "dash of spice."
BP announced today via local public relations firm The Ehrhardt Group (of which BP is a client) that the "Spirit of the Gulf" events at the games will target "more than 1,000 people each day" to encourage them to visit the Gulf Coast, and "sample the world’s freshest and best-tasting seafood and experience the Gulf’s unique culture and distinctive attractions."
... the Gulf Coast’s finest are gearing up for a trip across the pond to deliver the ultimate good luck charm — Gulf Coast tastes and tunes. For four days during the 2012 Olympic Games, the ‘Spirit of the Gulf’ will introduce Team USA to a showcase of the Gulf Coast presented by BP.
BP's presence at the 2012 games has already set off a wave of protests — several of the company's massive billboards were smeared with "oil" and a campaign wants to remove BP as an Olympics sponsor.
BP vice president of government and public affairs Crystal Ashby said the company is "proud to use the power of the London 2012 Olympic Games" to promote the Gulf and show the company's "ongoing commitment to the community."
Folse and Michael Sichel — the former a culinary legend (and most recently a partner in Restaurant R'evolution) and the latter the new executive chef at New Orleans institution Galatoire's — and the other six chefs will prepare Gulf seafood for U.S. Olympians, their families and visitors, according to BP.
BP also will bring Mississippi chefs Chris Poplin (Biloxi's IP Casino Resort Spa) and Calvin Coleman (Gulfport's Naomi's Catering), and Alabama chefs Chris Sherrill (from Orange Beach's Eat! and catering company Staycations) and Alec Naman (from Mobile's Naman's Catering). (Naman said he was asked to make shrimp pasta but would rather make crab cakes with a corn and tomato relish.)
Florida chefs Justin Timineri (from Florida's Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services) and Paul Stellato (of Panama City's Firefly) also join BP's travel party.
BP also will send three bands from the Gulf to perform in London.
But this week, and a little closer to home, BP will announce its co-sponsoring of a "musical tribute" at the Old U.S. Mint (400 Esplanade Ave.) with Harry Connick Jr.
Under the announcement "LT. GOVERNOR DARDENNE AND HARRY CONNICK JR. ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP," details of that partnership include a "musical tribute" underwritten by BP to "salute Louisiana's rich musical history." The event also is sponsored by Louisiana Public Broadcasting.
The announcement is 10 a.m. Friday, July 13.