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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Benefit offers one-stop tour of John Besh restaurants

Posted By on Thu, Dec 1, 2011 at 3:24 PM

Madonna Manor, home of Cafe Hope in Marrero.
  • Ian McNulty
  • Madonna Manor, home of Cafe Hope in Marrero.

Young people who graduate from the hospitality industry training program at Café Hope go on to work at restaurants across the area. This Friday, Dec. 9, six high-profile examples of those restaurants are coming to Café Hope for a special benefit for this nonprofit that’s shaping up as a one-night food festival.

The Besh Restaurant Group has partnered with the café for the event, where guests will find dishes from Restaurant August, Lüke, American Sector, La Provence and Domenica. Meanwhile, Borgne, the forthcoming restaurant chef John Besh plans to open in the new Hyatt Regency hotel with Galatoire’s alum chef Brian Landry, will provide a seafood spread for the event’s patron party.

Each restaurant will be serving a signature dish from its menu, and guests have the run of the tables (and open bar) for the night. Dinner begins at 7:30 p.m. and the $150 ticket includes a copy of Besh’s latest cookbook “My Family Table.” The patron party begins an hour earlier at 6:30 p.m. and tickets for this cost $250 each. For tickets call 310-6568 or get them online.

Guests at the Cafe Hope event get an autographed copy of Beshs new cookbook.
  • Guests at the Cafe Hope event get an autographed copy of Besh's new cookbook.

Proceeds from the night benefit Café Hope, an affiliated ministry of Catholic Charities. It uses the tried-and-true format of a full-service restaurant to deliver life-skills and career-building training to young adults who want to make a new start. The café uses weekday lunch service and catering to support its mission and deliver its programming to young people who are referred by sources including local churches, juvenile services, the sheriff’s office and youth advocates.

It’s a model similar to that used by Café Reconcile, the Central City-based nonprofit restaurant that pioneered the idea in New Orleans and that indirectly spawned Café Hope, which opened last year. The nonprofit’s founder and executive director is Don Boyd, a Belle Chasse native and veteran of corporate hotel kitchens who served as Café Reconcile’s chef early in the last decade.

“It’s a great model because it’s so personal,” says Boyd. “Food is personal and you get immediate feedback on it. You serve someone a great meal and they tell you if they liked it, they might compliment you on the service you provided, on the restaurant you’re representing, and that’s a great affirmation for young people trying to do something new and get themselves on a career track.”

Café Hope is inside the Hope Haven Center, a campus of ornate Spanish mission-style buildings first opened in the 1930s as an orphanage and later run by the Archdiocese as a treatment center for troubled youth. Early programs — now long-since discontinued — stressed self-support, so enterprises like an on-campus dairy and carpentry shop produced income for the center and taught its young residents potential job skills.

In a way that spirit has been rekindled at Café Hope too.

Café Hope
1101 Barataria Blvd., Marrero, 756-4673

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