Louisiana science activist Zack Kopplin — just out of high school — was a panelist on tonight's episode of HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher, discuss social issues that included climate change and same-sex marriage with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and others. Watch a segment of the show:
Kopplin, who's proven to be as media savvy as he is bright (exhibit A, B, C), will surely be embraced by Maher, and good on him. That said, it's worth remembering that Maher has been something of a dick when it comes to Louisiana issues. (He was more polite to Gambit when Noah Bonaparte Pais interviewed him in 2009.)
Once, this little patch between Mardi Gras and the big music festivals of April was a relatively quiet time. Then people figured out that also made it a good time to schedule other events, and now the March calendar is full of them too.
Hogs for the Cause is the biggest food event next weekend, but it’s not the only one. In fact, the weekend starts early, on Thursday, March 21, with the Edible Evening, a foodie-focused garden party at the Samuel J. Green Charter School (2319 Valence St.), and it continues at the French Market and other venues for a newly revamped event called FoodFest: America’s Hometown Eats.
For more than 12 years, Café Reconcile has offered young people a chance to transform their life prospects through its jobs skills training and mentoring programs. More recently, the Central City nonprofit restaurant has undergone its own transformation.
A major expansion and renovation has been underway here for some time, and today, March 11, the café part of the Café Reconcile operation reopens, resuming lunch service from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The dining room has been thoroughly redesigned, and it’s much larger than before. There’s also now a courtyard for outdoor meals. The menu of hearty and inexpensive New Orleans classics has stayed much the same (the long-running special of white beans and shrimp will be back on Thursdays, for instance) and more complex dishes will be worked in as the café gets rolling again.
Director of development David Emond says some of the biggest changes are behind the scenes, including “a state of the art kitchen that is finally worthy of our students.”
Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School hosts Treme Day from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. There is a 5K run/walk an a health and wellness fair. The events benefit the school's athletic and enrichment programs.
Registration for the 5K is $20 adults/$15 under 21 in advance, $25 adults/$20 under 21 on the day of the race, and the fee includes a T-shirt. The race starts at 9 a.m.
The school held its inaugural health fair last year, which offered screenings for blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, bone density and eye exams. There were seminars on women's health and childhood obesity. This year's fair is from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Clark is charter school operated by Firstline Schools.
The Lenten fish fry is a long-running tradition in New Orleans, but not all of these events follow a traditional script. For instance, one coming up next Friday, March 8, won’t be held at a church but rather at a nonprofit urban farm for local high school students, with music, art and a menu with lighter options alongside the fried fish.
The local/healthy food advocate Slow Food New Orleans is hosting this one-night fish fry at Grow Dat Youth Farm, a youth development program operated from City Park with acres of crops and a facility built from stacked, repurposed shipping containers.
The chef Don Boyd, founder of the nonprofit Café Hope, and local Slow Food chapter president Gary Granata are preparing the food along with Moscow 57, a New York entertainment company founded by Ellen Kaye, whose family ran the legendary Russian Tea Room in Manhattan for close to 50 years. Granata and Kaye have been collaborating on pop-up food, music and art events and decided to join forces for a one-of-a-kind fish fry at Grow Dat.
If you suddenly start seeing a certain lemongrass grilled shrimp dish with ribs and crab kimchee on more New Orleans menus, that’s not because it’s necessarily the trendy new dish. Rather, it’s because this recipe cooked up by local ninth grader Sierra Torres is the “Dish That Makes a Difference.”
That’s the name for an annual student culinary program at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), the high school-level arts school in the Faubourg Marigny. Begun in 2010 in conjunction with the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, the program challenges students in NOCCA’s culinary arts program with a recipe competition. In past years, winners saw their recipes prepared and served in Lagasse’s restaurants, with proceeds benefiting their school.
This year, however, the Dish That Makes a Difference has been expanded. From March 1-10, Torres’ recipe will be featured at more than a dozen local restaurants and even the food truck Taceaux Loceaux. Participating chefs have free rein to reinterpret Torres’ recipe for their own menus.
Big Class is a local organization that runs literacy programs in which children create books from writing content through publishing. The group's next project is to run a writing and tutoring center at 3718 St. Claude Avenue (below Antenna Gallery). There are two open houses (noon-3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, and 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28) at which parents and children can get information about the program and sign up. Participation is free, and volunteers also can sign up at the two open houses. There's more info here.
Upcoming after-school programs start March 12. Each program starts with homework help, and each has an eight week workshop followed by a four-week book-making project.
Tuesday features a jazz centered project for 10-14 year olds. The program incorporates music, poetry and visual art.
Wednesday features a food and memory theme for 10-14 year olds. Students write reviews and essays and take photographs.
Thursday's project is a newspaper for 6-14 year olds. Students will create all sections of a community newspaper.
Sundays are open to 6-18 year olds, and each week will feature a different workshop topic.
Zack Kopplin, the 19-year-old Rice University student and Louisiana native who's spent the last two years advocating for repeal of the Louisiana Science Education Act, was named the inaugural "Troublemaker of the Year" by a private foundation that seeks to honor people in their teens who stir up, well, trouble:
What kind of trouble? The good kind — when you are not afraid to speak your mind on important matters even when everyone around you disagrees, when you take a risk and bend social norms for a greater good, when you pick a direction and go for it, even if others tell you to turn around.
The troublemakers that the award seeks are young women and men from around the globe, who demonstrate inspiration, original thinking, leadership and outstanding commitment to their troublemaking cause. Their activism not only turns heads, but also delivers tangible positive impact on their local community, home town, country, or perhaps the entire planet Earth.
The organization, founded by self-described "angel investor and serial entrepreneur" Semyon Dukach, awarded Kopplin a $10,000 prize.
Zack’s bold campaign to repeal the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) has made waves in state politics and in public education. Kopplin has gathered the support of 78 Nobel Laureate scientists, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the New Orleans City Council, and other major organizations. His petition to repeal the law has 74,000 supporters across the US. Working with Louisiana State Senator Karen Carter Peterson, Zack has fought for two bills to repeal the LSEA. He has spoken out before the Louisiana legislature and State Board of Education, debated creationist politicians, held rallies, and had been covered in hundreds of interviews in national and international media. Kopplin is preparing to fight for a third repeal bill.
Read Gambit's 2011 profile of Kopplin here.
The Carnival season king cake tradition is more than just alive and well. These days, it seems to be positively surging, with bakeries and restaurants across the spectrum giving these cakes their own spins and sometimes turning heads with their new interpretations.
Cochon Butcher has been making specialty king cakes for the past few seasons. Rhonda Ruckman, pastry chef for the Link Restaurant Group, prepares both single-serving size and family-size cakes in flavors that are traditional, like cinnamon, or decidedly not, like the “Elvis,” with peanut butter, banana, bacon and marshmallow. Domenica is getting in on the action this year too, with pastry chef Lisa White making an elaborate version filled with salted caramel, sliced bananas, pecans and mascarpone and iced with a praline glaze sprinkled with gold leaf. You can order these a day in advance for pick-up at the restaurant, or place a day-of rush order for an extra fee.
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