James Cullen, who recently ran the kitchen at Treo in Mid-City, has been hired as the executive chef at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) institute's Press Street Station (5 Press St., 504-249-5622; www.pressstreetstation.com). He also is in charge of operating the Boxcar food truck and overseeing the institute's cater- ing operations.
Cullen parted ways with the Treo team in January and was considering opening a restaurant when the NOCCA job became available.
"I was just very lucky and the timing was good," Cullen says. The new menu at Press Street Station is French-inspired and focuses on fresh ingredients, he says.
"We're trying to make everything 100 percent in house," he says. Vegetables are delivered fresh from the adjacent Press Street Garden, and sous chef and head baker Robert Barnard makes breads daily, including sourdough, focaccia, sweet potato brioche and stecca.
The breakfast menu is served all day and includes a sweet potato brioche French toast served with a blueberry compote and Steen's Cane Syrup butter. A take on eggs Benedict includes boudin and grilled summer squash topped with poached eggs and a sauce choron.
For lunch, there's pan-roasted drum served with a pecan beurre blanc and grilled vegetables, a mojo-braised pulled pork sandwich on sweet potato brioche and mussels served with a New Orleans-style barbecue sauce and home fries.
Cullen hopes to roll out dinner service soon.
The Boxcar usually parks on NOCCA's grounds, and Cullen says he would like to start weekly pop-ups and musical events showcasing the talents of NOCCA students.
"The cool thing about NOCCA is that it really brings in lot a different students from all over Louisiana," Cullen says. "Kids from all sorts of different backgrounds come here and get to share their artistic endeavors and energy. And I like the mentorship aspect of it. Programs like these are great because you don't really need to want to be in the culinary world for the rest of your life to be able to take away a lot of valuable experiences."
Press Street Station is BYOB and is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Proceeds from the restaurant and Boxcar support NOCCA.