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La Provence Founder Dies

Chris Kerageorgiou, the original chef and owner of the NorthshoreÕs La Provence Restaurant (25020 Hwy. 190, Lacombe, 985-626-7662; www.laprovencerestaurant.com ), died Feb. 4. He was 79. Kerageorgiou was born in 1927 in Port Saint Louis, a small village in Provence, France, and moved to the Untied States soon after World War II. Over the next 25 years, he worked as a baker, cook, waiter and maitre dÕ at different restaurants before opening La Provence in Lacombe in 1972. He created the ambience of a French country inn and served a cuisine to match. In January, Kerageorgiou sold the restaurant to John Besh, who had once served as his chef de cuisine. Besh will close the restaurant for five weeks beginning Feb. 15.

Dondis Named Local Restaurateur of Year

Joel Dondis, owner of JoelÕs Grand Cuisine (www.joels.com) catering company and La Petite Grocery (4238 Magazine St., 891-3377) restaurant, won the Restaurateur of the Year Award from the New Orleans chapter of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. The group presents this honor each year to recognize outstanding contributions to the hospitality industry. A native of Lake Charles, Dondis worked in the kitchen at Mr. BÕs Bistro and was sous chef at EmerilÕs Restaurant before starting his catering company.

Curd Classes

St. James Cheese Company (5400 Prytania St., 899-4737; www.stjamescheese.com), the new cheese shop that opened Uptown in November, will host two classes at the Savvy Gourmet (4519 Magazine St., 895-2665; www.savvygourmet.com) on choosing and pairing cheeses. The classes, dubbed ÒCurd is the Word,Ó will be led by St. James proprietor Richard Sutton, who previously worked for LondonÕs oldest cheese monger. The first class is on Monday, Feb. 12, and will have a ValentineÕs Day theme. On March 12, the second class will focus on seasonal spring cheeses. Both classes begin at 6:30 p.m. and the cost is $35. Call Savvy Gourmet to sign up for a class.

It's the Reservations, Cupid

If you think youÕd like to dine out on ValentineÕs Day this Wednesday but havenÕt yet made reservations, it may be time to think up Plan B. Figures from the National Restaurant Association (www.restaurant.org) show why itÕs so hard to land that table for two at late notice. More than one-third of Americans visit a restaurant on Feb. 14, the association reports, and approximately 20 percent spend more than $100 on that meal. Only MotherÕs Day sees a higher percentage of people dining out each year. Ñ McNulty

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