Chef Justin Devillier is a 2015 James Beard Award nominee and a competitor on season 11 of Top Chef, which was shot in New Orleans. On May 24, he'll be a fishing guide for a group organized through the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (www.nowfe.com). Guests will spend the morning casting lines with Devillier, and whatever bounty is brought back will be cooked by the chef and his team that evening at his restaurant Balise (640 Carondelet St., 504-459-4449; www.balisenola.com). Devillier spoke with Gambit about his love of fishing.
What do you have planned for the trip?
Devillier: It's going to be an all-day kind of thing. We'll have a group of about six or so and head to either Delacroix or Hopedale. We'll start early and fish from sunrise until 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. Everything's included, fishing tackle, bait.
After that we'll head back and the guests will get to go back to their hotel, take a little break ... before meeting up back at Balise. Then they'll get to drink really nice wine and we'll cook for them. And hopefully we'll be consuming the fruits of our labor — or eating something else, if not.
What kind of dishes are you planning to make?
D: It will all vary and it depends a lot on the sizes of the fish we catch. I'd love to get a mixed bag: some trout, some sheepshead, some redfish. I think there's a chance that a lot of people will be traveling from out of town, and it would be nice to get a couple of different species to show them a good variety.
I would love to bring a flounder or two that we could stuff whole — I think that's just a really great way to feed a large group of people. Or maybe we'd make a courtbouillon or something like that. I'm also a big, big fan of fried speckled trout.
How are you as a fisherman?
D: I like to fish as much as I can. I've been fishing since I can remember, growing up in California. Early on my dad taught me, but I grew up on the water and so I grew up kind of figuring it out as well. I got into the geeky side of it ... learning how to tie all the knots and tying flies. Now, I've been fishing here and I've been here for 14 years.
In California there's a lot more fishing, and in Louisiana there's a lot more catching. I don't want to say it's easier, but you don't get bored as easy here. It always seems like there's something going on.
I love to fish. It's one of the three things I'm good at. The other two are cooking and napping.