3-course interview: barbecue master Rodney Beals

On Hogs for the Cause and popping up
Local barbecue legend Rodney Beals has been smoking for his friends and family for years. A longtime member of the Pork Funk All Stars, which participates in the barbecue fundraising festival Hogs for the Cause (www.hogsforthecause.org), Beals launching his own barbecue pop-up, Big Boyz BBQ, in April.

3-course interview: Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam

Thiam hosts a dinner March 25 at SoFAB
Senegalese chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Pierre Thiam (www.pierrethiam.com) has been touted as a West African culinary icon. He is the executive chef at acclaimed restaurant NOK by Alara in Lagos, Nigeria, and runs the catering company Pierre Thiam Catering in New York City.

3-course interview: Shane Finkelstein on Top Taco

Taco and tequila festival to benefit foster care
Shane Finkelstein owns the Mexican restaurant Nacho Mama's (1000 S. Clearview Parkway, Suite 1016, 504-255-6201; www.nachomamasmexicangrill.com) in Elmwood and organized the inaugural Top Taco New Orleans (www.toptaconola.com) festival. The taco and tequila event at Spanish Plaza March 23 is modeled on a similar festival in Denver, Colorado.

3-course interview: Christina Balzebre of Levee Baking Company

On baking workshops and the benefits of fermented bread
Christina Balzebre served as the bread manager for Link Restaurant Group for several years. Now, she runs the weekend baking pop-up Levee Baking Company (www.leveebakingcompany.tumblr.com) and works in the bread department at Willa Jean.

3-course interview: Chef Michael Nelson of GW Fins

On cutting down waste and eating "trash" fish
GW Fins executive chef Michael Nelson has been tapped to participate in the James Beard Foundation's annual Boot Camp program, where chefs from around the U.S. discuss and learn food policy and advocacy skills. This year's event focused on waste reduction.

3-course interview: Amy Chan with Pythian Market

The market opens in a historic building on Loyola Avenue
Amy Chan grew up in restaurants. Her parents founded the first Chinese restaurant on the West Bank in the 1970s.

3-course interview: Chaya Conrad of Bywater Bakery

On the business of baking (and king cakes)
Chaya Conrad opened Bywater Bakery (3624 Dauphine St., 504-336-3336; www.bywaterbakery.com) last month and has been selling creative king cakes. The bakery will add breakfast and lunch service this month.

3-course interview: Charles Poirier, sugarcane farmer and syrup distiller

On making (and drinking) cane syrup
A mechanic by trade, Charles Poirier began making cane syrup for friends and family 14 years ago using his great-great-grandfather's method at his farm in Youngsville, Louisiana. Now, he sells his Poirier's Pure Cane Syrup (www.realcanesyrup.com) to chefs and specialty grocers all over the state.

3-course interview: Isaiah “Ike” Jackson Jr., server and actor

The actor has worked at Red Fish Grill over the last decade
You might recognize Isaiah "Ike" Jackson Jr. from the HBO series Treme and True Detective, American Horror Story or the movies 12 Years a Slave and Burnt. It's also possible you'll recognize him from Red Fish Grill, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this month, and where Jackson has worked for the past decade as a server, charming customers with his laughter and jovial attitude.

3-course interview: Kate Heller of Leo’s Bread

The self-taught baker opens Echo’s, a pizza place in Mid-City
Kate Heller runs Leo's Bread (www.leosbread.com), a small-batch wholesale and pop-up bakery operation. This summer, Heller and the owners of 1000 Figs will open Echo's, a bakery and pizzeria at 3200 Banks St. Heller spoke to Gambit about dough and the new Mid-City spot.

3-course interview: Ghost Tequila’s Richard Alexander Pomes

The New Orleans native on getting into the tequila game
Local entrepreneur Richard Alexander Pomes is co-owner and chief marketing officer of Ghost Tequila (www.ghosttequila.com), but before that he was a brand ambassador for Fireball Cinnamon Whisky. Pomes, a New Orleans native and longtime member of local theater company The NOLA Project, spoke with Gambit about what he learned about liquor and why he got into the tequila game.

3-course interview: Simone Reggie of Simone’s Market

On the recently opened local market
Simone Reggie opened the neighborhood grocery Simone's Market (8201 Oak St.; www.simonesmarket.com) on Dec. 23. Reggie previously worked with the John Besh Foundation, where she helped farmers obtain microloans.

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