And the Winners Are ...
Two New Orleans restaurants, Galatoire's (209 Bourbon St., 525-2021; www.galatoires.com) and Willie Mae's Scotch House (2401 St. Anne St., 822-9503), received James Beard Foundation awards, the most prestigious honors in the culinary world. Galatoire's, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, was named the San Peligrino Outstanding Restaurant. Accepting the award, the restaurant's president Simone Nugent called it 'the best birthday present we have ever received.' The Outstanding Restaurant Award honors a restaurant in operation for at least 10 years that 'serves as the standard bearer of consistence of quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service.' Willie Mae's Scotch House was also honored with the America's Classics Award. The award recognizes restaurants that are 'honest, true and beloved by their community,' according to James Beard Awards Director Melanie Young . Willie Mae Seaton, who opened the Scotch House in the mid-1950s, has gained a national reputation for her near-perfect fried chicken. At the ceremony in New York, a statement by Mayor C. Ray Nagin was read by presenter John T. Edge : 'I am delighted that Willie Mae Seaton is finally getting the recognition she deserves. I can assure you that she does, in fact, cook the best fried chicken in America.' The James Beard Foundation Web site (www.jamesbeard.org) has a full list of winners and video clips of their acceptance speeches.
Hold the Mercury
Mercury in Louisiana's waters threatens both recreational and commercial fishing, according to the Gulf Restoration Network , or GRN (www.healthygulf.org). Susan Spicer of Bayona (430 Dauphine St., 525-4455; www.bayona.com) and Ti Martin of Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave., 899-8221; www.commanderspalace.com) have joined forces with GRN and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (uspirg.org), a nonprofit and non-partisan environmental and consumer organization, to raise awareness about mercury in Louisiana's waterways. Thirteen New Orleans restaurants will participate in Save Our Seafood (saveourseafood.org) on Thursday, May 19, when brochures will be distributed with information about mercury and recommendations on how individuals can limit mercury emissions. The restaurants will also donate a portion of that day's profits to GRN and USPIRG. A full list of participating restaurants can be found on the Save Our Seafood Web site.
Extra Sparkling Wine
Order a glass of bubbly, or any other cocktail, on Saturday, May 21, at Loa Bar in the International House (221 Camp St., 553-9550; www.ihhotel.com) from 5 p.m. to midnight, and you might go home with some extra sparkle. Loa has teamed with jeweler Robert Norman to give away a one-half carat loose-cut diamond. The bartenders will also mix up original May-themed drinks, such as the Mamma Mia and the Very Berry.